Melia Kreiling plays Amandine Buckingham on the Prime Video original series Mammals, premiering today (November 11) around the globe.
TV Fanatic got the chance to speak with Melia about working on the series.
Check out the full interview below.
TV Fanatic: Could you speak a bit about how you got involved with Mammals?
Melia Kreiling: I was looking for something different from what I’ve done before, and my agent sent me this project, and he said I could audition for it even though it was primarily for a French accent girl.
We weren’t sure they would even consider me, but I sent in an audition and completely fell in love with the character. Just from the three scenes I had available, I could tell Jez Butterworth’s writing is so spectacular.
Yeah, that’s kind of how it started, and then, I waited for a while, kept hoping, and then suddenly, they were asking me to do a call with the director on Zoom, Stephanie Laing, and then I went in, and did a screen test with James and very luckily for me, I was in.
When we’re introduced to Amandine and Jamie, they seem like a regular couple, but things quickly go south when Jamie starts unraveling Amandine’s secrets. What was it like to take on the role of someone who harbors many secrets?
When I started reading it and working on it, I started with the same question you’re asking me. And then, I realized I needed to shift my question a little and recognize that we all have our own secret or inner lives.
Sometimes it can sound a little more nefarious, but we all have these inner lives and issues that we’re dealing with.
And so I started looking at it from that perspective. And then it kind of makes you approach the character with a little more control and power, in a sense.
That worked well for the story because Amandine starts throwing out these little breadcrumbs here and there.
Jamie’s search for answers about Amandine is pretty serious, but the series manages to tackle it comedically. Did you expect that when you signed up?
It’s not that I expected it exactly, but I was thrilled about it because oftentimes, when I’ve looked back on situations in my life that at the time had felt so incredibly dramatic and often find the ridiculousness or the tragic comedy aspect to it where something is so serious that it becomes funny.
It crosses over to the other side because you cannot quite believe the toll it took on you. I had in the past been to the funeral of a very close loved one, and I randomly, inappropriately, got the giggles. I was trying so hard to suppress it because I realized I would look crazy and rude. I couldn’t compute it.
I couldn’t comprehend it. So it became funny in a way, like I couldn’t believe that I was in that position of saying goodbye to somebody so tragically. So I was thinking about those situations where something can be so incredibly serious that you can’t quite handle it, and so you start finding it funny.
And I realized that in the show, the way Jez has written it, there’s an element of that, actually, a lot of times, things are just really funny. You can’t compute how, you can’t quite process how serious they are.
It’s tricky to describe Amandine because we’re seeing pretty much everything from Jamie’s perspective. How would you describe her?
I would say that Amandine is very knowingly moving around a chessboard. She’s after something. And what she’s after is love and magic. I’m trying to say this without giving away the show!
She’s after love and magic, and she’s figuring out a way to get it and hold onto it. That’s what I would say at this point without spoiling it.
I have to imagine there were a lot of laughs on set with James Corden. Could you speak a bit about what it was like working with him?
It was incredible. I have to start with the fact that he’s a total pro. He was the first one there and the last one out and knew his lines inside and out.
When you have as many scenes and lines as James has in the show, it’s remarkable, considering that he was also under a huge amount of time pressure to get back to his Late Late Show.
It was inspiring and motivating for all of us to be at our best. He’s a real joy to be around. He’s always finding solutions really quickly and calmly, and every time, I would be like, “Oh my God, I don’t know what to do here.” I would panic, and he would like, “Calm down, it’s going to be fine. You’re going to do great, love. You’re going to do great.”
And he’s very soothing that way, especially in moments you’re panicking and, as you can imagine, he’s a huge music lover.
So there was a lot of sing-along going on. He loves music so much to fill those gaps between takes where you’re waiting around patiently to do another take of a scene, and yeah, he’s just wonderful. Hopefully, I get to work with him again on this show.
Amandine is a very different role for you compared to your previous work. Could you speak a bit about what you look for in a character or project when you’re choosing roles?
It’s funny, similar to Amandine. I’m looking for them for what I perceive as that magical element when I’m reading something.
A lot of the time, something just clicks, and you think, “Oh wait, I have a perspective on this. I can feel it,” you know?
And it happens almost like magic, and I mean, that’s something that you really hope for as an actor to have a reaction like that to a character you’re reading.
I think for me, ever since I started working as an actor, I always thought in the back of my head that I don’t want to keep repeating myself. I don’t want to do the same project twice. Not that it’s ever the same project, but sometimes someone will see you in a — let’s just as an example, hypothetically, someone will see you in an action film, and they’ll think, “Oh, she’d be great in this action film too.”
So then you do another one. I would love to do multiple of the same thing, but not right after the other. So yeah, I generally have this tendency to try and find something different to the thing I just did, just to shake myself up and not fall into habits, if possible,
You’ve been a part of really great shows. I thoroughly enjoyed Filthy Rich. I wish we got more of that. Are there any roles you’ve played that you’d like to revisit?
They all kind of sit with you, you sort of put them in a corner. It’s like you have a little treasure box and when they’re done, you put them in there, and you look at them with fondness and love.
I think for me, the healthy thing to do is say goodbye when their time is up. I’ve loved so many of the characters I’ve gotten to play over the years, and I feel really grateful, and I really do look at them with fondness, but I don’t know that I think in that way of, “Oh, I wish I could do that one again.”
I think I just let it be where it is and allow those characters to have the time they had.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Mammals Season 1 is available to stream on Prime Video now.
Check out the official trailer.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.