‘Mare of Easttown’s Angourie Rice on How Siobhan Processes Grief & Mother-Daughter Drama
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Mare of Easttown, Season 1, Episode 4, “Poor Sisyphus.”]
Mare of Easttown continues to draw viewers in with its mysteries and cases, but at its heart is a family torn apart by grief stemming from the suicide of Kevin Sheehan (Cody Kostro).
On two different spectrums, you have detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) and her daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice), the latter of which has been piecing together a documentary about her brother Kevin. As her grieving process plays out, Siobhan’s also discovering what she wants out of life and her relationships, leading to some chaotic scenarios involving her new love interest and her ex.
Below, Rice is opening up about the little love triangle playing out in the show, how Siobhan’s actions are influenced by her grief, and what it was like to learn the much-talked-about Delco accent among other things.
Episode 4 focuses on Siobhan’s personal relationships. Would you agree with Anne (Kiah McKirnan) that Siobhan’s decisions are influenced by her home and family life? Is that a good or bad thing?
Angourie Rice: This is something we talked a lot about in pre-production in developing the character and the family dynamics, how I think from a very young age Siobhan’s had a lot of responsibility placed on her. She’s a part-time carer for her nephew and she is the go-between with her parents and her mom and grandmother sometimes. She’s the peacemaker, the one who’s making sure that everyone’s okay all the time, and it’s always taken for granted that she’s okay because everyone else is dealing with stuff.
So, what I really like about Siobhan’s relationship with Anne [is] how it encourages her to change and reconsider her decisions. I think there’s a point in every teenager’s life when that happens. I think that’s what Siobhan’s really worried about. “Is everyone going to be okay if I leave? Will everyone fall apart?” I think she’s worried about that.
This show is irrefutably dark at times, but the little basement mix-up in which Siobhan’s ex, Becca (Madeline Weinstein), catches her hooking up with Anne, is pretty funny. What was it like putting that scene together? Were there laughs on set?
I thought it was hilarious. I think [Madeline]’s really funny in the show and it’s bizarre because it’s like, “should you be this funny in a show that’s so dark?” But I think she really pulls it off and makes that balance work. It’s kind of bizarre, funny, and awful all at the same time because everyone’s in this weird situation where it’s really awkward. When she showed us her scream, I was giggling hysterically.
We’ve heard some little things here and there about Siobhan’s brother Kevin and his suicide. How is that impacting Siobhan emotionally and will we dig more into that as the season continues?
Yeah. I think it’s very much at the root of her disconnect with her mother. Siobhan has found a healthy outlet in a way to understand and process the grief surrounding her brother, whereas her mom hasn’t and it’s something they don’t talk about. I think that disconnect is really hard for Siobhan and that’s something that I really wanted to make sure was at the forefront of her character and who she is as a person, how she’s dealt with this grief and how her relationship with it is contrasted to Mare’s because Mare’s relationship and understanding of grief is so different to Siobhan’s.
Mare is definitely caught up in her work, so that makes sense. Do you think Mare’s focus on the cases she pursues is a way to avoid the grief she needs to face?
I feel like, at its heart, this show is about everyone trying to deal with their problems and figuring out how to deal with them individually, but also on a community level, because it’s so much about the community and how everyone is connected. So yeah, I guess you could say that.
Apart from the shock of even having a family meeting, Siobhan lies to her mom and grandmother about her relationship status. Will that result in any blowback for Siobhan, considering she was caught with Anne?
You’ll have to wait and see. I will say that I really loved working with Kiah who plays Anne. I really loved their scenes together and I think that’s where you see the softer side of Siobhan. That’s what really drew me to her character as well, is that she’s going through a love story in the middle of all this chaos.
This show has shined a light on the Delco accent, what was it like preparing for this role?
We all worked with a dialect coach and that was really helpful because I’m Australian and it’s even a tricky accent for Americans. It’s so specific and I think the more specific an accent is the harder it is. Also, there’s a lot of inconsistencies in the accent because it’s developed so regionally and it differs from person to person. It’s a hard accent to pin down to one specific sound or person. So I worked a lot on it with the dialect coach. I was very fortunate that Siobhan’s accent is one of the lightest in the show. But in some ways that was harder because I didn’t want it to be too light. There were still some words that we really wanted to hit that would have carried over from generations with Siobhan.
Anything you can tease about the mystery unfolding this season and why you think it’s drawing viewers in?
What I really loved about the script was that it draws you in with the mystery. I find it really difficult to read scripts, but with Mare of Easttown‘s first two episodes, I read 20 pages and I was instantly hooked by the mystery. But then I wanted to stay for the characters and I think that’s what makes this show so engaging and compelling is that you’re in it for the mystery, but you really care about the people.
That’s really important to me in reading any script, but I think in Mare of Easttown, Brad [Ingelsby] did such a great job of making these characters so vivid and engaging that you want to see them succeed. You want to see them find happiness. But you also really, really want to know what happens in the end.
Mare of Easttown, Sundays, 10/9c, HBO