At long last, Red Dwarf returns to public television stations in America this month (Saturdays at 11p beginning July 21 on KERA in North Texas). For the remaining individual that has lived under a rock for the past few years, the series returns with twelve new episodes which make up Red Dwarf XI and XII. Returning to the Starbug are Craig Charles (Dave Lister), Robert Llewellyn as everyone’s favorite Series 4000 service Mechanoid, Kryten 2X4B – 523P, Chris Barrie (Arnold Rimmer) and Danny John-Jules as Cat.
Joining the boys from ‘the small rouge one’ for a guest starring role in episode one of series XI, “Twentica”, is Lucie Pohl (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the voice of Mercy in Overwatch, Homeland). Lucie portrays Harmony de Gauthier, ½ brilliant scientist, ½ showgirl in 1920s America. Harmony, a.k.a. Professor Baldwin, holds court at the ‘Lady Be Good Club’ where she finds herself in hiding from a world where technological progress and scientific discovery has been outlawed. As leader of the ‘Resistance Bunnies’, her simple task is to merely bring about the downfall of the Expanoid overlords of Twentica resulting in the liberation of humankind and its progress. Certainly no pressure there….
Recently, Tellyspotting had the great good fortune to be able to sit down with the brilliant Lucie Pohl to try and gain some insight as to what it’s actually like on the set of Red Dwarf.
Tellyspotting: From stand-up to a role in Fantastic Beasts to an episode of Homeland to being the voice of Mercy in the Overwatch video game, can anything remotely prepare you for a guest role on Red Dwarf and all the greatness that one can only imagine goes on during filming?
Lucie Pohl: No. There is truly nothing that can prepare you. Except may be an acid trip (not condoning this). On the day we filmed the show I had food poisoning which surprisingly ended up being very helpful, actually. Instead of freaking out about the fact that I was shooting an episode of Red Dwarf I just focused on not projectile vomiting all over Chris Barrie (not condoning this either).
TS: Were you a fan of the series before you appeared in the premiere episode of series XI?
LP: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t know Red Dwarf before I got the audition. I blame it on American ignorance and the fact that I was a Baywatch fan as a kid which probably lost me a few brain cells. When I got the audition I thought it was a show about dwarfs, all red apparently, in an enchanted forest. I remember calling my Scottish friend:
- Me: “I got an audition for this show called Red Dwarf. Do you know it?“
- Him: (freaks out)
- Me: “Is it fantasy? Like in a forest? With dwarfs?“
- Him: (freaks out more, hangs up)
TS: Red Dwarf just celebrated its 30th anniversary. What’s the secret of its longevity to where it’s actually attracting a completely new generation of viewers while keeping those that have been there from the beginning?
LP: Great writing. Great acting. Heart.
TS: Your character, Harmony du Gauthier, is ½ scientist, ½ showgirl in 1920s America and has, perhaps, the best line in the episode with “Hey, I don’t do the big bang”. Did you find it easy or difficult coming to an established show like Red Dwarf that is built so much around the four main characters?
LP: Because of Doug Naylor’s incredible writing on the character and the episode, it felt like I was ushered into the Red Dwarf universe on a diamond encrusted, gilded coach with birds chirping on Nutella clouds. Honestly, Doug wrote such an amazing character in Harmony, all I had to do was learn the lines really damn well and say them! I worked hard on getting those lines down because I knew I’d be nervous around these four amazing actors who the entire show is built around. I didn’t know what to expect but assumed the worst, as any good Jew would. Danny, Craig, Robert and Chris were some of the most generous, fun, funny, talented, inspiring, inventive, easy going and professional people I’ve ever worked with anywhere. They’re amazing guys and working with them was an absolute gift.
TS: Did you have input as to your specific character and, perhaps, suggesting things or in a guest role do you pretty much perform the lines as written by Doug?
LP: I didn’t dare give any input on the writing to the genius that is Doug Naylor, but I think after the first read through Doug saw that I had the character down and could handle more dialogue, so he added a few things here and there. It’s nothing out of the ordinary though that the writer goes back and tweaks the dialogue after hearing it out loud for the first time.
TS: One might assume that stand-up is harder given you are at the mercy of a live audience but you can also gain instant feedback from an audience that might give you a sense of direction as to where to take the show that night. Does the experience gained from doing stand-up help you with television and/or film roles or vice versa?
LP: Doing stand up and live comedy is a great way to learn how to connect with and feel your audience. Stand up is also a great exercise in learning to get to the point very fast. You can’t lose your audience or you’re dead. I think that skill does help for TV and Film and it makes you think about writing differently. My scenes in Red Dwarf were all shot in front of a live studio audience, so it was the best of both worlds. My experience doing live work gave me a really strong foundation to stand on for this show. I’m a live performer at heart. I love performing in front of a live audience and feeding off that energy. Getting that instant feedback is an exhilarating, addictive experience second to none.
TS: After the fact, what’s one thing you can share about Craig Charles, Robert Llewellyn, Chris Barrie or Danny John-Jules that no one knows about?
LP: All four of them wear women’s underwear!!! Ok, that’s not true. But if it were, that would be pretty juicy gossip to spill, don’t you think?
TS: There are so many British comedy or drama series that excel in the selection of guest starring roles. What is one series, past or present, that you would love to or would have loved to be a part of?
LP: There is only one answer to this this question: FAWLTY TOWERS.
TS: What makes you laugh today? What made you laugh growing up?
LP: I still laugh about anything Monty Python, I laugh at silly people, I laugh at misunderstandings, I laugh at myself a lot, at my parents and at people who take themselves too seriously. Also penis, fart and poop jokes never cease to make me laugh. I’m a classy broad!
Red Dwarf XI transmits Saturdays at 11p beginning this Saturday on KERA in North Texas with other public television stations airing at various dates and times throughout the remainder of 2018.