Finishing up my overview of our wonderful cast, we finally come to the character of TWO.
Here’s the breakdown that went out for the role:
“AKA Boss Lady, AKA Portia Lin. NIKITA-ESQUE, BEAUTIFUL, SOFT- FEATURED. THE GROUP’S DE FACTO LEADER, SHE IS A MASTER FIGHTER and an unbelievably quick learner when it comes to any sort of weaponry. DETERMINED, TOUGH, AND MORE THAN A LITTLE HEADSTRONG, SHE IS NOT THE TYPE YOU WANT TO MESS WITH – OR DISAPPOINT. She can be cool and inscrutable. LOOKING FOR SOMEONE FIT, PREFERABLY WITH FIGHTING EXPERIENCE. ALL ETHNICITIES.”
By far, this was the role that saw the most auditions. When all was said and done, over 250 candidates had read for the part. We had a lot of interesting possibilities but one, for me, stood out amongst the rest. I received her audition, a rare self-tape, from New York where she’d been on Broadway appearing in Les Miserables.
Her name was Melissa O’Neil and she was everything I was looking for in the character – someone with obvious strength and a commanding presence and yet, at the same time, sympathetic and possessed of an underlying warmth. Too much of the former and one risked making the character unlikable. Too much of the latter and one risked making her seem weak. It was a very, very tough balancing act that most were unable to pull off, but one that Melissa managed to deliver with ease. She also had MMA and martial arts experience which was a huge plus because, next to the character of FOUR, TWO was our most technically proficient fighter. The rest of the crew were brawlers but she needed to be an expert in the use of weapons and hand to hand combat.
One of the things that impressed me about Melissa early on was her positive outlook and commitment to her craft and character. She was a stunt coordinator’s (not to mention a director’s and show runner’s) dream, training like crazy, rehearsing complex action sequences on weekends so that she could nail them on the day. The editors loved her because she was so good at fight choreography that we could actually stay on her in the wide shots rather than having to cut around to her stunt double. Like the character she played, Melissa was an incredibly quick learner who picked up enough moves to give me pause whenever I debated story points with her.
When all is said and done, however, I’ll forever remember the enthusiastic emails exchanged shortly after we received her audition. Some of the highlights: “I’m so excited about her”, “That second scene was near perfection”, “Top of my list”, “I think she’s really special and fresh”, and “She’s ready to break!”
We all knew we had a star in the making. And, in about a month, I believe we’ll be proven right.