'The Romanoffs' Star Jack Huston on His Episode's Connection to the #MeToo Movement
In the third episode of Amazon Prime Video's The Romanoffs, Jack Huston tackles a character that hits very close to home for the actor.
"House of Special Purpose" features Huston as an actor starring in a miniseries about the Russian royal family — see what we mean? His character is named Samuel but he's playing Rasputin, the mystic and holy man who was friends with Tsar Nicholas II.
Over the course of shooting the miniseries, the extremely method actor begins to unravel.
"I'm playing Samuel and Rasputin. I was speaking to Matt [Weiner, the creator, writer, and director of the series] and he was like, 'Let's go full Rasputin. Let's make him out there,'" Huston told reporters at a press event in New York City. "We had the wig and the beard and these blue contacts."
Samuel is so enmeshed with the character that he makes a shrine to Rasputin in his hotel room and Christina Hendricks' character, Olivia, is slightly freaked out by his commitment to the part.
"Of course, [Weiner's] doing a heightened version of what could happen because he wants to entertain and for dramatic effect but speaking to Isabelle [Huppert, who plays the director of the miniseries], Christina, and just being [an actor] myself, you're awkwardly like, 'That's almost too close to home,'" Huston explained. "I've never gone so deep. It's an exaggeration but there is a truth to every exaggeration."
When Huston first read the script, he interpreted it as a horror-comedy. "You almost feel uncomfortable," he said. "You want to laugh but you can't quite laugh because it's a bit too weird. This is like a heightened reality."
One very unfunny scene that will stand out in the audience's mind in the midst of the #MeToo movement is when Samuel (as Rasputin) touches Olivia inappropriately while filming, giving the excuse that he was lost in the moment as the character.
"I've seen [inappropriate on-set moments] happen, like relationships and manipulations. This [episode] is a perfect example of how bad it could get [on set]," he said. Ironically, Weiner wrote the episode before the movement began.
Regardless, Huston revealed the scene was "very clearly written and we rehearsed it and knew exactly what were going to do" thanks to Weiner's leadership on set — "Matt's so insightful and brilliant."
Huston also personally identified with the overarching "Romanoff theme" of being part of a family with an impressive legacy: His aunt is Angelica Huston, his uncle is Danny Huston, and his grandfather is Oscar-winning director and screenwriter John Huston.
"Having a name... people look at you in a different way," he said. "They want to meet you but don't necessarily want to give you a shot. Maybe you're treated differently and that's not always a positive. You don't want the name to define you, but at the same time the name defines you."
The Romanoffs, Episodes 1-3, Available, Amazon Prime Video