If you've been watching Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams on Channel 4 you'll be familiar with Ruth Bradley's character, Yaro. She stars alongside Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston in the latest episode: Human Is. But, what you probably wouldn't have been aware of, while watching her take on the part, is that the role was originally written for a man.
Ruth's now using this experience to advocate for more gender-neutral roles. Here she talks to InStyle UK about subverting society’s expectations of gender...
“Electric Dreams is a must-watch because it’s both satisfying and scary at the same time. It’s about human nature, relationships, what it means to be human, the nature of love and the universal themes that surround that. Even though it’s set in the future and it’s sci-fi, it’s really about us and no matter what happens in the future we will still be human beings. No matter what happens, these themes will still be the same, we will still wake up and think silly things like, ‘do I look fat today?’”
“My part was initially male. I met the casting director and the director, I read the script and the character was male. All the stage directions said ‘he walked here,’ for instance, so I thought it was a mistake when they called me in. We chatted about how with the best characters it really shouldn’t matter what gender they are - a role can and should be played by a man or a woman. There is nothing that defines ‘her’ as a woman; we didn’t change any of the dialogue or anything in the script. In an ideal world you wouldn’t ever have to change a character due to gender.”
“There is so much room for gender neutral characters. In life, with my friends, I don’t see them as male or female, I just see them as people. That’s not really how any one really lives their life, by defining everyone by their gender when we interact with them, so I don’t think we should be doing that in the arts either. In an ideal world we would be able to just swap character’s genders around because I don’t ever wake up in the morning and think to myself, ‘oh I am such a woman today,’ because that is just so ridiculous. So with this job, which is all about human psychology and what makes them tick, gender doesn’t come into the equation.”
“I was massive fan of Bryan Cranston’s. I knew he was producing it but I didn’t know he was going to be in it until after I was cast. The first time I met him was in pre production, in make-up when we were having our fittings. We were sitting up against this mirror and the costume people were doing their thing and he just turned to me and said, ‘it’s great to have you on board.’ I just fell apart, lost my words and the only thing I could say was, ‘my face is shining!’ I reigned it in after that!"
“Bryan taught me that there’s never any need for egotistical behavior on a set. He’s never rude, he knows everyone - it’s just like he’s one of the crew and one of the cast. I think when you work with older actors, who are so good, it’s rare that they are egotistical. Whereas when you work with actors my age or younger, they can be – there is just no need for it – the really talented people just act like Bryan, without any sense of an ego.”
“I was such a massive fan of The Fall before I joined it, so when we started I just kept thinking, ‘oh my god I am sat across from Paul Spector!’ Which was interesting and really dark but Jamie is a really amazing man and so handsome, do you know what I mean? I saw Fifty Shades after I was cast though…”
“Nobody ever says, ‘oh he played a really strong man,’ because everyone always assumes that men are strong which is nuts. I think there is definitely more room for women across the board, as long as they are not black and white, not just girlfriends and wives and instead women with ambition and a story of their own. We all know in real life these women exist. Hopefully it’s changing now to reflect our society and the way we live our lives more. It would be a really poor reflection of our society if, in the future, someone came across material from our time where women were subjectified. Instead I want to see more material which reflects my life because in reality there are strong women and strong men.”
“The third series of Humans is bigger - it tackles more themes and will be more thought-provoking. What’s good about the show so far is that it makes us look at ourselves even though it’s set in this parallel present. The show still makes social commentary that is relevant now, to our lives. It does that all over again in the third series but with more punch."
“Filming Humans is really exhausting because so much energy goes into doing nothing but feeling everything. The taxing thing about playing my character, DI Karen Voss, is the physicality of it because she’s a human sometimes but in the second series you saw her mostly as robot so you can’t physically use any ticks to express how you are feeling. You are feeling everything in your stomach and your heart but you can’t show it in your face, so you just hope those feelings and emotions come through and the audience gets it.”
‘Electric Dreams: Human Is’ airs on Channel 4 on Sunday 29th of October. Catch up on the series on All 4 now.