The actress who thinks she was born in the wrong era explains why she fits in so well in this alternate-history period piece.
Alexa Davalos speaks quietly, and with a not-quite-placeable accent that hints at a childhood spent in Paris and Italy. She feels like someone from another time entirely, so it is no wonder that she is so often cast as a woman from the past—in the World War II film Defiance, in the noir series Mob City, and now in Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, a bit of a speculative history set in an America where Germany and Japan won World War II.
“I love to time travel,” Davalos says. “So I’m really drawn to those kinds of pieces and to be as many different women as possible in as many different eras as possible that I won’t get to experience myself. I just feel like I was born in the wrong era.”
Her character on The Man in the High Castle might identify with that feeling of being out of step. Davalos plays Juliana Crain, a woman born after World War II in San Francisco, which is now part of the Japanese Pacific States. As a young adult in the early 60s, Juliana finds herself on a mission intended for her sister: delivering a mysterious roll of film to a city in the Neutral Zone, the Rocky Mountain area that divides Japanese and German-controlled America. There she meets Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank), a young idealist with secrets of his own.
The Man in the High Castle has the bones of a spy drama, which means nearly everyone has a secret to keep, but Juliana is one of few people driven purely by her own instinct, not an agenda. “She’s being led in various directions, and therefore has a serious domino effect on everyone around her,” Davalos teases about upcoming episodes, all of which will debut simultaneously on Amazon, November 20. “Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s not. I would say the emotional roller coaster is pretty serious and she takes us all over the place.”
Davalos calls show-runner Frank Spotnitz an “expert at serialized television,” which means that he has stretched the Philip K. Dick book that the series is based on far, far beyond what we see in the first season. “It’s not the longest book in the world so he had to create a lot of things,” Davalos says. So when Season 1 ends nowhere close to the finale of the book, don’t fret; “Frank has plans,” Davalos promises, “but he won’t tell us any of them. He tells us he doesn’t want to spoil it for us.”
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