Amara Karan has had a distinguished career. She’s played everyone from a detective on the BBC’s Hope Street, to Rita on Doctor Who, to her recent role of Indira Mare on AMC+’s Moonhaven. The 6-episode science-fiction suspense series was recently renewed for a second season.
The actress sat down with us via Zoom for this exciting interview – where we talked about how she prepared for the role of the Envoy, where and how she found out about the second season, her thoughts on the message of Moonhaven, and more.
[Warning for some Moonhaven spoilers in the interview with Amara Karan below. Interview has been edited for extra/filler words and clarity.]
All right. So first, congratulations on the second season. You know, that’s big news. And you’ve all worked so hard.
Amara Karan: We have, and it is big news. Thank you.
Where were you when you found out the news? Were you – was it a little bit of a surprise? Or were you kind of expecting it?
AK: I was on set filming a film, which hasn’t been announced yet. So it was my last scene on that film. And I’m looking at my phone, and suddenly I get a message. And I was just like, Ahhh! Yeah, it was a really exciting moment.
Oh, that’s the best news. So on Moonhaven, you play Indira [Mare], Earth’s Envoy to the Moon. Can you talk a little bit about the character? Can you describe her and then talk about what attracted you to her because she’s so complex and so amazing. And just there’s so much to talk about with her.
AK: I was so excited to play someone who I felt like was this kind of mega politician, quite a character, and someone who had to juggle quite a delicate diplomatic issue between the Earth and the Moon 150 years in the future. So I was like, Yeah, tick, tick, tick. So yeah, what is there not to like?
And but the character is described as the Envoy to a company. She’s a bit like a Richard Branson, Elon Musk character. She is the face and the chairman of this company that’s piloting artificial intelligence technology on the Moon. Her job is to make sure that the moon colony that has been tasked with developing it… brings it back to Earth. There’s a little bit of suspicion between people on the Earth and people on the Moon and a suspicion about the culture on the Moon. Because the deal is you can have the technology, but you also have to have the culture.
And one of the most cool things about the culture is, I think, the fact that you don’t raise your own children. Everyone raises everyone else’s children. And so people on Earth are, well, some people on Earth think this is great, and we need the technology, and Earth is absolutely apocalyptic. So we need anything to save us. But some people are very suspicious about this whole new culture of not raising your own children. It feels very unnatural.
I’m so glad you mentioned that because episodes five and six, you know, are pretty huge for your character. My jaw was on the floor, and I loved it. It’s just like, I don’t know, I was totally Team Envoy before. And now, I don’t know. I can’t wait to see what happens in the second season. Can you talk about that? Because that’s really, that’s really unique.
AK: Yes, it is. And I can’t talk about that. And it would be a spoiler to also talk too much about that. So yeah, I can’t talk about that so that you are where your jaw hit the floor. That’s what we want. And what’s really nice, as you know, more is unraveled about her slowly through the season. And there’s more to come. And I’m, you know, so excited to go back and develop that and continue with the story.
Do think we’ll learn a lot more about what led her to the events of five and six in season two because there was something in [episode] six about her in the flashbacks that we learned. You know, and if you’d seen the flashbacks in prior episodes, you weren’t thinking that was going to lead that way.
AK: Yeah, you weren’t? No, absolutely. And I think yes, I think we’ll maybe understand a little bit more, but it’s nice that the story, her story is told with some flashbacks to her past and her life. And also, it’s the life of a kid, you know, 100 years 120 odd years in the future. Like what one of the kids think was happening.
It’s also just, again, part of this world-building because it seems like Indira was trained, and there was a school for this kind of technology. It would be like if Google or Amazon (could) develop their own school where they got the brightest kids to learn their technology and to work in the company eventually and develop new ideas for the company and maybe even become CEO of the company or chairperson of the company. So that was a really interesting kind of a part of the world building.
You’ve got all this world-building of the Moon and the culture and the technology on the Moon, but I loved that, you know. It’s nice to sort of see the mechanics of this whole idea this whole in our show, you know of what, what, how do you get to Indira? What are the steps and stages to get you to an Indira? I was researching for the character. I mean, I was preparing a little bit, but you know, this wasn’t helpful; it was something that I got to do as an excuse. I read Obama’s biography.
I’m sorry, what was that?
AK: Barack Obama’s biography.
Oh, gotcha. Yeah.
AK: You know, and that was the other thing about appealed about the role, but that, you know, playing a politician, playing people, you know, people like Barack Obama, like, where did this guy come from? Like, what were the steps and stages to that point? So, it’s just really interesting, you know, people don’t just drop out of the sky. And suddenly, they’re the President of the United States, right?
AK: So I, when I did find all of that, and I find all of that interesting, I find all of that, you know, how people get to be where they are, whether they’re a sports person or an actor, or whatever, they, you know, how they get there is amazing, really.
So you have, from what I’ve read, you have a politics and economics degree. Right? You have that background, so is that something that’s always been appealing? How that stuff works?
AK: Yes, it is appealing, and who doesn’t, who’s not interested in – I mean, studying about how the world works, and also just about power and politics. It’s for nosy people, and I guess I’m that person, and so that, yeah, it was really, it was really fun. And that’s part of what’s joyful about the role because I haven’t been a politician, diplomat, person before. And you know, you have to sound like you know what you’re talking about. And we have to hold status. You have to sometimes dominate, but sometimes you have to have a quiet, powerful elegance. And so this is just interesting to kind of find yourself playing a completely different role we haven’t played before.
And I know we’re running out of time a little bit. Can you talk about any favorite moments from Season One that you really enjoyed filming and all of that?
AK: So I just loved the spaceship, but the kind of the trip from Earth to the Moon. That was like a very cinematic special scene. You know, it was a bit clumsy. When we first started shooting this, it was a bit mad and crazy. And I mean, the first episode, the second episode on our first set of directors, Bridget [Bridget Savage Cole] and Krudy. And Danielle Krudy… I mean that our directors, they were so; it was so fun. What was exciting was they shot it like an indie movie. They were very creative; very collaborative. And we got to try lots of different things, crazy ideas. And it didn’t feel like we were making production line television. So that was really exciting.
And that’s that scene that you see, of us traveling from the Earth to the Moon; it sort of sets up a lot. I think there’s something innately exciting about the spaceship, kind of in the science fiction genre. And the scene, I don’t know something about the way it was written. But I really felt like the rhythms of the scene. And the characters talking to each other and meeting each other; learning about each other. For the first time, I just felt like that was kind of magical, I think. Pretty much cool. Yeah.
So you’ve had a bunch of interviews? Is there one question about Moonhaven that you haven’t been asked yet, that you really want to talk about? Is there something you really want to get out there or say about the show?
It’s kind of a tricky one.
AK: A tricky one. I guess I haven’t been interrogated; thank God too much about the IO technology, which is the artificial intelligence technology. And not that I necessarily want to get this out there. But it’s kind of stunning… what artificial intelligence – AI. And I think this show gives you a very vivid idea of a mind-blowing idea of what, because basically, that technology, the idea in this show is that it creates gravity on the Moon. And it could control the climate. And if you can, and also that it can create soil, it can help to create soil, on the Moon so you can grow plants and trees and food. So the fact that it can do that, I mean, it’s amazingly incredible.
I just shot a film, actually, where AI was sort of like the enemy and evil and interesting. And in this science fiction, Moonhaven is that you kind of see you can solve a lot of problems with this technology.
AK: We, I just because I can’t even imagine, like this level of advanced technology that what the technology can do so, yeah. I’m, I’m always kind of amazed. You know, they put a transcription of an AI robot having an interview, I think was it for Google something – one of these big companies and it was just mind-blowing how empathetic the robot was able to learn empathy through AI. It was able to teach itself empathy. And I guess that’s from reading all this data on the internet that’s available, but that that freaked me out.
I can understand that.
AK: So yeah, it’s just, I guess it’s kind of exciting that a show’s looking at the technology, what it can do in the future, and also considering what we might, how we could live in a different way, which hopefully wouldn’t lead to war and crimes and starvation and hatred and pain. It’s a thesis; it’s an idea. So it’s kind of hopeful. And, and yeah, I hope audiences just kind of really love to kind of explore what we could be in our future through the show.
It’s so exciting. Again, I’m so happy that there’s a second season. I’m looking forward to hearing more about Moonhaven and hearing more about the Envoy. I think we might be out of time. But yes, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
You can catch Amara Karan as Indira Mare in Season 1 of Moonhaven, now fully streaming on AMC+. What did you think of the interview? Are you excited about Season 2 of Moonhaven? Please share your thoughts with us on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus or @TulinWrites.