The launch for AppleTV+ is looming and they’ve announced a bevy of new programming that will be headed our way with its release, but there is one in particular that has captured the attention of genre fans. It’s called See, and not only does it boast one of the more interesting and innovative ideas we’ve heard in a long time, it has a killer cast list to boot.
Set 600 years in the future, the series creates a world where a plague not only wiped out most of the population but also stripped the sight of those who remained. For generations no one has been able to see and sight has become equated with dark magic.
In a small village led by Boba Voss (Jason Momoa), however, a pair of twins have been born who have this very gift and it will challenge and change everything they have ever known.
The series creators brought together both sighted and low-vision actors to create an ensemble that learned to rely upon each other as they set about creating this incredible, high tension series.
One of those actors is Bree Klauser, and I had the opportunity to speak with her about the role and her experiences while helping bring See to life.
Klauser holds a BFA from Brooklyn College and while she’s worked on stage before as an actor, musician, and comedian, this would be her first time working in front of a camera beginning with a taped audition which she sent to the series’ casting crew after learning about the project.
“I sent out the tape in March and then just tried to put the audition out of my mind,” she explained. “You’ll drive yourself insane waiting if you don’t learn to do that.”
In June, she heard back from the series asking for another tape reading for the role of Matal. One month later, she found out she’d booked the part and soon found herself ensconced in the lush green landscapes of British Columbia working with Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, and more.
She’s quick to point out, however, that despite their status, none of the “stars” in the cast were unapproachable.
“There was really no division on set between stars and recurring actors or anything like that,” Klauser said. “It was a bonding experience for all of us in the mud and the rain working together. It was amazing to go to the premiere because it felt like a family reunion.”
One of the scenes in the first episode, though, was particularly powerful in building this ensemble’s bond. It came when Momoa as Boba Voss led them in a variation on the New Zealand Haka, a traditional Maori ceremonial, posturing display that can serve as both a welcome or a challenge depending upon the circumstances.
Klauser admits that performing the scene brought out a side of herself that even she was unaware existed.
“As an actor doing it with this group, you start hearing sounds come out of your body and you have no idea where they came from,” she said. “We’re all screaming and there’s this incredible energy that just takes over. It’s cathartic to feel that kind of fury.”
Furthermore, the show’s producers and directors worked a great deal with both the sighted and low vision actors bridging the gap between the two and drawing upon the experiences of those actors with impaired vision to create a foundation for the world of See.
Klauser happens to be one of those low-sighted actors and she said her fellow actors would come to her to ask her questions or talk to her about how she would handle a given situation, though even she would not be able to advise them completely.
“I have some vision, but there are gaps,” Klauser explained. “I have a condition called achromatopsia so I have no color vision. I’m photophobic which Vancouver was great for because it was always overcast so I was never squinting. I have poor depth perception. I see things with one eye at a time. I’m very near-sighted. I still have enough vision, though, so that when I’m speaking to someone I make eye contact. I look at their face.”
Still, there were times when her experiences and the different ways in which she approaches the world were useful on set and she felt not only able but encouraged to offer opinions from time to time.
In one particular scene, the villagers are being chased and they had to make their way down the side of a mountain with rather steep incline. With her lack of depth perception, this was a particularly treacherous scene, though she was thankful that everyone in the series uses a walking stick while traveling to help feel for obstructions in their path.
“Jason and the other guys were hauling ass down this incline and I got the direction to pick up the pace,” Klauser said. “I said to the director that if you had no sight at all, even if you were running for your life, there would be more caution. You don’t know what’s in front of you, and especially on a steep incline like that. Because I spoke up, the director listened and adjusted how the scene was approached. It was like that throughout filming.”
There was one more aspect that was particularly fascinating to Klauser about the world of See, however.
With the population low and living in isolated villages, society has created “festivals” wherein the different villages can meet and mingle in the hopes of staving off the effects of incest.
“I really didn’t know what I was getting into that day,” she said laughing. “If you watch, you’ll see the characters sort of sniffing each other, that kind of thing, but I knew that my character, Matal, as a presage would approach that differently.”
She drew upon a somewhat unlikely source for her character deciding that Counselor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation would be a sort of guide for her. Matal would feel for something that couldn’t be detected by the physical senses, she decided, and when she found it, she would know.
“I end up with a guy and a girl in that scene so we know Matal is bisexual and being bisexual myself it was really cool to represent that,” she said. “It’s the future. If you don’t have sight, you don’t have the same self-consciousness about your own body or about someone else’s body. You lose a lot of those hangups and it’s great that they included that.”
See is set to premiere on AppleTV+ on the streaming service’s launch date, November 1, 2019 and Klauser is excited for audiences to see the culmination of the work that went into the series.
“It’s a visceral experience,” she said. “Even I had chills watching the first episode and I’m in it!”
Mark your calendars and get ready for something completely different with See!