She might be known for her days as Catelyn Stark on ‘Game of Thrones’ and playing Ava Hessington on USA’s ‘Suits,’ but currently Michelle Fairley can be seen on FOX’s ‘24: Live Another Day’ 12-episode event series.
Fairley plays terrorist Margot Al-Harazi, and she’s definitely not afraid to let her villainous side show. Not only did she orchestrate an attack on the U.S. military by overriding a drone, but she’s also in the midst of carrying out her plan to assassinate James Heller, the U.S. president. If that isn’t enough, she’s the widow of a terrorist and even has her son and daughter helping in the next big attack on London and the United States. Talk about family bonding.
For those concerned, Fairley, obviously, is nothing like her character, which TVRage found out last Friday during a conference call. Originally, Judy Davis (‘The Starter Wife’) was set to play the role of Margot, but after dropping out due to “personal reasons,” the part was handed over to Fairley.
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As she told TVRage, “Basically what happened was I was offered the part. … The next thing to do is talk to the writers and find out who this person is, who they have based it on and what is her story. And, because they write the scripts as they go along on ‘24,’ the writers made it very clear to me they knew exactly what they wanted this woman to be like.
“Also, once you start inhabiting a role like that and it goes on film and they’re watching it and seeing what your strengths are, or your weaknesses, and then they can write, accordingly, for the person playing the role. And, also, it makes it very interesting watching her character interact. But, they knew exactly how she was going to turn out. But, it makes it more exciting to them to write with a particular person in mind, as well.”
Before even taking on the role of Margot, Fairley was “absolutely” a fan of ‘24,’ which she revealed to TVRage. She went on to profess her love for the series and the cast and then added, "I actually went back and rewatched some of the seasons, as well, which was fantastic.” Not only does she find the actors to be remarkable, but she enjoys how every episode ends on a cliffhanger.
Back to taking on the role of Margot, Fairley explained to reporters that playing a character who is extremely violent can actually be less of a challenge, because they don’t ask questions. “They don’t question, because they are totally driven. The problem with them is that most people label them as ‘mad’ and ‘crazy,’ but actually to them they’re not. … They are passionate and they’re driven and they’re totally committed.”
Margot, and other villains, have tunnel vision, which they use to their advantage in ensuring their goals are delivered and completed. “The thing with Margot is she is not asking anybody to do anything that she herself has not done in the past. She knows what it takes to do these things and that’s why she’s very conscientious and she’s very watchful of the people around her, because she’s been in that position herself,” Fairley said.
With Margot being quite the experienced terrorist, that means she can bring her son and daughter into the mix and teach them her terroristic ways. As we’ve seen, her daughter Simone has been the foot soldier and doing Margot’s dirty work out in the field. She’s doing what Margot used to do, Fairley explained.
Despite being villains, this family loves one another and Fairley even compared them to a “Shakespearean tragedy,” and then added, “They’re completely driven by their mission, basically. … She’s expecting total commitment from her family. There’s no question about that at all. She’s never ever had to call this into question -- ever. They are a very close family and love comes into play in this heavily -- very, very heavily.”
Fairley described the family relationship as a “real power struggle,” especially since the children are constantly seeking attention. Speaking of attention, Simone’s husband better watch his back, because the attention Margot’s giving him might just turn deadly.
As we saw in last week’s episode, his wavering ways might land him six feet under. “He isn’t committed,” Fairley said. “You know, this marriage is incredibly important to her daughter, and it’s a very fine line that Margot has to tread here. … She expects that loyalty from her children, and she would give them 100 percent loyalty. As far as she’s concerned, there would actually be no side to take if push came to shove where her son-in-law was concerned.”
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Margot’s plan has taken many years to form, so Fairley ensures no one will get in her way, as she’s constantly checking that there are no “weak links” around her. This is a cause she believes in, especially since her husband fought for it as well, before he died. Margot’s pain, grief and political stance lead her in one direction -- kill the president and push people to start questioning their government.
“What I think that’s interesting about Margot is as the season progresses you start to see more of her own story, of her backstory, of what actually drives this woman. And, you know, her emotional journey as well. Her commitment has come through pain and loss, actually. And, it’s about revenge. And, it’s about questioning what governments do, as well, and the power that they have over their own people. She’s not just a villain, though it is an emotional sort of conflict within herself, as well.”
A brand new episode of ‘24: Live Another Day’ airs tonight at 9/8c on FOX.