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Alexandra Daddario Opens Up About How She Approached Rowan’s Complexity (Exclusive)

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Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches debuted last week on AMC and AMC+ with the latest series in the network’s Immortal Universe introducing fans to Rowan Fielding, a young neurosurgeon who, unbeknownst to her, is actually a powerful witch and the latest in the line of a family of New Orleans witches whose lives are entangled with a dark entity known as Lasher. The first episode of the series starts the unravelling of life as Rowan knows it with the death of her adoptive mother and as the series progresses, viewers will go deeper and deeper with Rowan in to this new world of witchcraft. But for all of her power, Rowan is just a human and being and for star Alexandra Daddario, that’s how she approached the character. Daddario told that her humanity is what she found fascinating about Rowan from the start.

“She is very complex. I think the fascinating thing about her is you have a human being who is just that, a human. And when you meet her, she’s just a person. And she has all of this stuff thrown at her immediately. And then she’s dealing with grieving the loss of her mother, so she’s in mourning, and she’s also finding out that people were lying to her, including her mother. She is part of a different family. She has these powers. She doesn’t know what to do with them or how to harness them. So, I tried to equate it to something real. And I do think that Anne Rice was very metaphorical. So, there are these big ideas that are very complex, but you’re actually dealing with things that are very human,” Daddario said. “So, if you think about when you’re growing up and you’re a teenager and you’re discovering your sexuality or what you’re attracted to, or people are attracted to you, and what do you do with that? That’s a power in and of itself. Or what you’re good at. You don’t even know what you’re good at. You’re still learning how to do math and you’re learning words and you’re learning all of… You have all these powers that you’re afraid of because you don’t really know who you are and you don’t know what the world is around you, and you don’t know what to do with all of this stuff.

She continued, “So I really tried to simplify things when things became so complex, so that it’s not so daunting. Because these are stories about human beings, at the end of the day. Even the Marvel movies, DC movies, all these superheroes, it’s essentially about who you are when you step into your power, who you are when you’re going through adversity. So, I just tried to simplify it to that. And of course, it’s quite challenging to deal with as much as she’s dealing with and to play a character who is going through that much darkness and pain and grief. But I really tried to humanize it at every point, including the relationship she has with Lasher and with Ciprien. These are all able to be simplified when you really look at it from a human perspective.”

Why does Mayfair Witches center around Rowan?

While the book Mayfair Witches is based on, The Witching Hour, encompasses centuries Mayfair witches with Rowan’s story being just one — albeit significant — part, centering the series around Rowan’s story more directly was a decision that series co-creators Esta Spalding and Michelle Johns credit to executive producer Mark Johnson, who told that he felt it was the obvious choice, especially with the story examining the idea of women, power, and men who struggle to deal with the idea of powerful women.

“I think it’s just so obvious. We are all constantly, hopefully in some form of auto examination,” he said. “‘Who am I and where do I come from?’ And this woman who begins to realize that she was not adopted in the circumstances she thought and digs and digs and starts to find out things about herself that both scares her and fascinates her. And you’re right; we’re fascinated by witches. I can’t help but feel that witches are created by men who are having trouble dealing with powerful women and the only way they can explain it is they’re something other than just human beings. And Michelle and Esta, I know, embrace this because of how strongly they feel about telling women’s stories.”

What is Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches about?

The series synopsis is as follows: “Based on Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair WitchesMayfair Witches is an exploration of female power and the mortal implications of our decisions.  Mayfair Witches focuses on an intuitive young neurosurgeon (Alexandra Daddario) who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations.”

Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches airs Sundays on AMC and AMC+.

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