Harry Lloyd’s got an argument ready for why you should watch Peacock’s risky new sci-fi series, Brave New World. It has something to do with the nightmarish possibility of a “utopia” based on author Aldous Huxley 86-year-old classic. He’s got even better reasoning for why you should get invested in his character, Bernard Marx — a high ranking member of a society, which is doped up on happy pills and countless orgies, who translated as a minor villain in Huxley’s original tale. Because, like the rest of us, Bernard is just trying to figure his sh*t out.
Born an Alpha Plus, an elite designation in a place called New London where test tube babies are coded as Alphas, Betas, Gammas, and so on, Bernard belongs to the upper echelon of society. He should be respected, worshipped, and desired because of his ranking. Instead, he’s ignored, gossiped about, and his authority is constantly questioned. This is where we’ll let Lloyd take over:
Lloyd: He’s an Alpha Plus. What’s his problem?
Lloyd: Well, he doesn’t really know.
Lloyd: Okay, why should we spend time with him?
Lloyd: Because he’s willing to find out.
Fair enough. We chatted with the actor about how the show eventually goes off-book, its comparisons to George Orwell’s 1984, and how he’d fare in this utopian future.
As long as Huxley’s book has been around there’s been comparisons to Orwell’s 1984. Which is more terrifying in your opinion?
I think Huxley’s [world] is a bit more sinister because we recognize it. We’ve given up some [things] without perhaps noticing rather than in 1984 when freedoms are taken away and you’re denied access and knowledge. Here, you’re distracted. No one needs to read a book. Why would you want to? That’s more terrifying than burning a book because there’s something horribly feasible about it.
Bernard might not be the hero of this story, but he is a compelling character. What interested you about his journey?
I was very interested in Bernard particularly from the start because he’s contradictory. I didn’t know where to place him. He’s representing this Bureau of Stability, he’s an Alpha Plus, but he himself is conflicted. And he’s brave enough actually to explore that doubt even though he’s so desperate to be an Alpha Plus. I think that’s why I was initially sympathetic towards him. He’s actually a quite cowardly individual, a puppy at times.
He does come across as more vulnerable than in the book.
I am responsible for some bit of puppyishness about him. I didn’t want him to be cold, which he could’ve come across as in this world where everything’s happy and perky. You get bored with those guys pretty quickly. He had to be vulnerable. There had to be something wrong with him, something he was trying to hide, if we were to be bothered to spend any time with him, frankly.
He’s malfunctioning, essentially. How does that fuel his journey in season one?
He’s got this same itch that CJack has, that Lenina has. The big question of the whole series is how that all connects to the one big character that we eventually introduce who’s not in the book: Indra. How do you embody that society and personify that in a character that has even more control than someone like Mustafa Mond? That’s a really interesting thing that I think will take us beyond the book.
Is that a season two hint?
[laughs] I know basically nothing about season two. I have my theoriesm which is where I think you’re led as an audience. Without any spoilers, just keep your eye on Indra from the start.
If you had to choose between a chill life in New London or life in the Savage Lands, which would you pick?
Is it for the rest of my life? Is it forever? Or do I get a weekend away? If it was a weekend, I’d definitely take a weekend in New London. That be a nice place to hang out on holiday. But yeah, forever? I don’t know, because you’d have to give up your privacy which is impossible, and also, your family. I have a little girl who’s about to be two. When I was filming this, she was actually one. It’s a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t give that up.
‘Brave New World’ premieres on Peacock’s July 15 launch day.