‘Silo’ Star Rebecca Ferguson On Doing An Apocalyptic Drama During The Pandemic And Working On Those Gigantic Sets


The sci-fi thriller series Silo has wrapped its first season on Apple TV, where it debuted as the No. 1 drama in the history of streamer. And boy, do we have questions.

Based on Hugh Howey’s trilogy of dystopian novels, Silo is the story of the last 10,000 people on Earth, whose mile-deep home protects them from the toxic and deadly world outside. However, no one knows when or why the silo was built, and any who try to find out face fatal consequences. Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible franchise) stars as Juliette, an engineer who seeks answers about a loved one’s murder and tumbles onto a mystery that goes far deeper than she could have ever imagined, leading her to discover that if the lies don’t kill you, the truth will. 

Ahead of the season finale, Deadline was granted an all-too-brief interview with Ferguson, who addressed the show’s arrival during the pandemic and what it was like to constantly run up and down those stairs.

And no, she didn’t reveal how many other silos are truly out there.

DEADLINE An apocalyptic drama coming out during a pandemic. Did you wonder whether people would want want to watch a drama like this because of the hell they’ve already been through?

REBECCA FERGUSON It was so odd. Obviously I see the relationship to Covid. This might sound really weird. I love shooting this show so much. It is the biggest joy in my life. Just being able to go onto set, even if we were behind masks. I didn’t even make the parallel in my head until doing interviews. And I was like, ‘oh my God. Yeah, of course.’ How claustrophobic and weird, but no, in my head I was pushing forward with our story and just so happy we were able to shoot it. I wasn’t even thinking about the pandemic. And I also think it is quite important for us actors to not make the parallel to the world of the lockdown. The world that you are watching is our true reality, right? So there shouldn’t be a shock effect or a feeling of claustrophobia. It’s our world. It’s all we have seen for the last 200 something years.

When you began this project, did you want to know, or did you feel you needed to know what was on the outside of the silo before you began shooting?

FERGUSON If you’ve read the books by Hugh Howey, who is a very intelligent human being, it’s not just one answer. It’s a grander picture that gradually unravels. So yeah, of course I knew about it. I did all the research I could and read all the books. What I found interesting was how I loved the world in the silo. I love the world of not knowing and then gradually opening up the possibility of getting out. What does that do to our psyche? Not over why we’re locked in, but more about what’s out there?

What do you think about Showrunner/EP Graham Yost’s work, adapting these books for the small screen? It seems like a behemoth task.

FERGUSON I’m in awe. It is very tricky. I was a part of the process with the script. Graham has shared this story. It wasn’t anything I wanted to go out with, but it kind of falls into the category of your question. I didn’t love the first draft of one of the episodes when they offered the role to me. So I turned it down. We had an ongoing conversation about it. And I said, ‘no, thank you. I’m gonna move on, but these are my notes.’ And then I went, but I kept on coming back to the story. I kept on asking my agents, ‘have they cast it? Who have they offered it to? And, I dunno, I was so drawn to it. Then they came back and they had done a change. They had adapted all of my thoughts. And I realized how good they were at understanding narrative from my perspective as a female actress, as the lead of the show and what I was after. But also the drama, the tension, the things that it lacked from a visual point of view that I had felt in the book. I did nothing other than basically complain [she laughs] and said,’ I’m not feeling it.’ They went back to the drawing board and presented something else. I saw within one change how quickly they could adapt something into a visual spectacle. That is so difficult when you read a book because you think, how do we process this? How do we get all of this in? Do we make this guy a woman? How do we make it equal? And I got all the answers from just asking and hearing and seeing the changes they could do, just like that. Graham is phenomenal, along with the people he works with.

I feel like you burned a ton of calories on this show because you were always running. What was that set like?

FERGUSON I am so proud of this set. Number one, it’s a family. Everyone knows each other. There’s no hierarchy. Everyone loves each other and everyone wants to come back. And we’re acting on sets that are some of the biggest I’ve ever worked on. I mean, the silo, for various reasons is not a hundred and something floors like the silo is [in the show], but it’s enough for me to get really fucking tired running up and down.

Did it feel as claustrophobic making this show?

FERGUSON To be honest, and I don’t know if I should say this, but the sets are so huge that you can’t feel claustrophobic. The studio isn’t locked. It’s not a reality. We are outside. But what I did feel a couple of times was exhaustion. We worked so hard, all of us. And I remember being on set once, and I just felt tears coming. Like, I started choking up. I was in the helmet. It was one of the last sequences, and I was tired. I was really, really tired. And the focus puller looked at me and just went, ‘do you need to go out?’ I thought, no, no, I’m fine. I need to push through. Come on, let’s do this. And he looked at me and went, ‘no, we’re not running. We’re not doing anymore. Go out.’ And I walked out, took the helmet off, and I burst out crying. I think maybe it was a lack of sunlight or something, or I was tired or emotional. I don’t know what it was. But that’s the first time I realized, actually, what it does to a lot to us. We just forget when we’re inside because we love it. We love what we do. We’re all there. And it’s so nice to have someone who has your back and looks at you and goes, ‘you need air. You need some real air right now.’ Get outside, grab a coffee and come back.

Silo has already been picked up for a second season and is currently in production in the U.K. It is produced for Apple TV+ by AMC Studios. The series is executive produced by Yost, Howey and Ferguson, alongside Morten Tyldum (Defending Jacob, The Imitation Game) who also directed the first three episodes, Nina Jack, Fred Golan, Rémi Aubuchon and Ingrid Escajeda.

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