You don’t want to miss the new season of PURE, it’s an intense ride and you will keep watching. We had a chance to chat with stars Ryan Robbins, Alex Paxton-Beesley, and Creator/Writer/Executive Producer Michael Amo and watch the first two episodes of Season 2.
Season two picks up with Anna Funk (Paxton-Beesley) going it alone after Noah (Robbins) disappeared for a year. In an attempt to shield her children from the family’s involvement with the drug cartel, Anna finds herself in the very center of the drug ring she and Noah attempted to take down.
WGN America Pure Event, Photographer Michael Becker
RG: How did you achieve the Mennonite accent?
Ryan: It came up late in the game. There was a farmers market with some Mennonite produce sellers and I would go there and would buy a bunch of products that I didn’t need, and I would try to ask questions about what I was buying, and I was asking ridiculous questions to get them to talk to me so I would ask: What is that? They would answer “a potato.” So I would be hoping they would say more. We also had a dialogue coach that helped us with the natural progression of the accent based on the language. We had a phenomenal Mennonite adviser named Laura; she helped us with the dialect; she did the translation and was on the set with us; she was terrific.
RG: Was there a discussion about using subtitles for the audience to understand some of the dialects?
Ryan: When we speak a little German there are subtitles, but with the accents we weren’t sure we tried to toe the line, we made the accents quite subtle because they did surround themselves with outside communities, so the accents were not meant to be too thick.
The language itself was tricky because the German or Plautdietsch as it is called is a Dutch/East Low German hybrid language. The speech didn’t exist on the record you couldn’t just Google it and hear it, so we had to have our amazing Mennonite advisor help us. And sometimes she would call her mother and make sure we got it right. By the end in Season two, there are some scenes ( and she is in one as well) which were very emotional, and we had to do it the language, and we did it to the best of our ability, don’t ask me to do it now though(laugh)
RG: Tell us what was it like to play a very complex yet simple man?
Ryan: You hit the nail on the head, for it was honoring that and remembering that his whole basis for existence was quite simple, he wants a simple life so to take everything away and start there from his simplicity and his faith. I love the idea of being off the grid living with no technology; there is something quite romantic about that for me. I live in a small community in the mountains, so I was already in love with that idea. But when it gets tricky for him is believing that he could get through anything with his faith alone, but then he was utterly unprepared for what he got into, but he is just determined willing to walk through the gates of hell to protect his family and his community. And once those gates closed behind him, it’s hard to get back out.
RG: How did you set the tone so firmly about Noah’s character from the very first opening scene of PURE? For we get such a strong sense of his commitment without him saying much.
Ryan: I remember during those times doing as little as possible and feeling my feet planted firmly and putting on the glasses. Every day I would get on the set put on my wardrobe, and before I before leave my trailer, I would stand solid on my feet, and the last act of putting those glasses on was the transformation. It was reverse Superman Clark Kent took his off and found his superpower and I put mine on to harness Noah’s strong commitment. Season 2 got even more tricky he had to be darker, his posture was different, his voice was different, and that was fun to see where Noah would go having seen the horror that exists in the world, so it was an exciting challenge.
RG: Can you share one thing you learned about your self doing PURE?
Ryan: The word that comes to mind is integrity and sincerity. Noah is such a sincere man even when he is making mistakes he is doing them so sincerely. And we are losing that; we are losing those qualities. It is so much easier to connect with a sincere individual than with someone who is putting on an act. And I love that about him, and I try to do that more often.
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WGN America Pure Event, Photographer Michael Becker
RG-When you got the script, what intrigued about the story and the role of Anna?
Alex- It felt like an uphill climb like a mountain, culturally, it was so outside of my element, and that was an ongoing continuing research process. But I was also so excited she is such a strong woman and so believable therefore that was so attractive to me as an actor.
RG: Anna is so silent and yet exudes such inner resilience, and in the opening scene, we see that right way. Can you share how you were able to convey that strength without uttering one word?
Alex: Absolutely, that was something I loved about the writing on the show, these characters are not very robust they are not very demonstrative, but that means that what they do say carries so much more weight because they express themselves as clearly as possible. And that means their inner light has such a chance to shine because all of these words are not overriding it. So it’s a pleasure because I get to sit in the center of this woman’s life and go through these moments that she has never anticipated and genuinely feel all her responsibilities.
RG: Going into Season two, what traits do you think the audience will see in Anna that was not present in Season one?
Alex: I think very early on they are going to see how committed she is in protecting her family, and I don’t think they will expect it in the way they may have anticipated.
RG: Is there one thing you learned about yourself playing Anna?
Alex: For me, it was tapping into this feminine rage, and that is not something I have a lot of access to in my everyday life and working towards having to express that has been enriching not just as a person let alone as an actor. To be able to find that space in me and use it has been extremely satisfying.
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RG: Your Grandparents were Mennonites, so what has it like bringing PURE to the screen?
Michael: It was an exercise in the imagination because my grandparents died in the eighties so I don’t know how they would feel about this. But I wanted to do justice to the characters and their struggles because knowing my own grandparent’s story and the difficulty they had getting from Russia to Canada and all they suffered I felt like all these immigration stories can be told which so many families are experiencing every day.
RG: The cinematography of PURE is fantastic. So how did you decide on the tone of the film?
Michael: I worked with our director Ken Girotti to create a look for the show which had a sense of Mennonite restraint, so we didn’t have a lot of close-ups, we had a lot of wide shots. We kept as quiet as we could and as respectful as we could. We tried to get people inside the mindset of what it was like to live on a farm and not to be surrounded by technology all the time, so that was the marching orders for the crew.
RG: The opening scene of Season one was so intense and set a great tone, how would that influence Season two?
Michael: Well that is the scene we go back too, and at the beginning of Season two and you will see that tone throughout to Season three?
RG: What are you hoping audiences will take away when they watch the series?
Michael: I hope that people would contemplate their way of life and maybe not attach to the idea of technology as the end all and think about other ways of living.
RG: What have you learned about yourself doing PURE?
Michael: That when you stick with a show for ten years to get it made, it better be a show that you love.
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“Pure” is produced by Two East Productions and Cineflix in association with WGN America, Super Channel, Hulu and the CBC. The series is created by Michael Amo (“The Listener”) with Amo and director Ken Girotti (“Orphan Black,” “Vikings”) serving as executive producers for the second season, along with Brett Burlock, Peter Emerson and David MacLeod (“Call Me Fitz,” “Haven”). Cineflix Rights has the exclusive worldwide distribution rights to “Pure.”