The many shades of Alice Hart

Alycia Debnam-Carey talks about adapting characters from books to the screen and working on her role for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Updated - August 19, 2023 12:21 pm IST

Published - August 02, 2023 11:27 am IST

A still from ‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart’

A still from ‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart’ | Photo Credit: Prime Video

In 2016, fans of The 100 rose up in arms against the creators of the show. The executive producer of the show was forced to issue an apology to the fans in an open letter. The reason? The death of a much beloved lesbian character called Lexa. It turned out to be Alycia Debnam-Carey’s breakout role and to this day, allies and members of the LGBT+ community rally behind the character urging showrunners to bury the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope

Recently, she featured in the crime drama Saint X and is all set to bring Alice Hart to the screen to narrate a tale of female rage, trauma, lies and betrayal in the show The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

What challenges does an actor face while adapting a book to the screen?

I first heard about the adaptation through buzzwords from my team: Australian landscape, female-driven, drama series, flowers and I immediately wanted to read it. I read the book in two days and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of the show. I was attracted to Alice’s rage and all the emotions that come in tandem with it.

Sometimes adapting a book to the screen is hard but in the case of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, the scripts were intimately connected to the book. Having access to both, author Holly Ringland and the showrunner Sarah Lambert and talking to them about the portrayal of characters and their evolution on the show helped. It was exciting.

Did you have a clear picture of Alice Hart going into the show or did you figure her out as you kept shooting?

Definitely both as there are a lot of layers to peel with Alice. I also discovered a lot with the wardrobe while also connecting to the hair and makeup of the character. But going in, when I first read the book itself, I felt that the language was sensory and visually descriptive, helping me form a clear picture of the character. 

Did the director or cast play any role in pushing you to explore Alice as a character and yourself as an actor?

I would not use the word ‘push,’ per se. It was more of an embrace in a safe and connected set. When actors are in a safe environment while dealing with dark and difficult material, they feel like they can trust the people around them. It helps them tap into the hard spaces.

Being surrounded by a host of talented female actors felt amazing! I learnt a lot by just observing them navigate the set and their characters.

Alycia Debnam-Carey

Alycia Debnam-Carey | Photo Credit: Instagram/alyciajasmin

You mentioned that there is something ‘very Australian’ about the show. What emotions does the Australian landscape bring to the story?

I feel like the Australian landscape has a tinge of wildness to it — a quiet power if you may. It is a beautiful landscape no doubt, but it is also tough and everything that grows there has adapted to be tough. I see that resonate on the screen for actors.

And despite the rural Australian setting, there is a sort of universality to the show…

Yes! Firstly, it is so beautifully shot. I think it is a visual delight for the audience. It is also this extraordinary female-driven story that follows generations of women working through years of trauma.

Do you consciously pick female-driven projects?

I mean, it’s definitely something I am conscious of and care about but it’s not always the first thing that comes to my mind. My connection to the story is what really drives me. But yes, if the stories have a female-oriented storyline, it is an added bonus.

The show deals with tough themes that demand a lot from actors essaying its characters. Did working with such heavy material get to you?

Dealing with heavy material is difficult and everyone processes it differently; I tried to limit all the emotions of Alice to the set. I had something resembling a religious ritual to get out of that headspace — I would take a shower immediately after getting home and call someone close to me to remove myself from the character of Alice Hart and pour myself a glass of wine.

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