Based on the cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, betrayal and technology. More than 300 years in the future, society has been transformed by new advancements, leading human bodies to become interchangeable and death no longer being permanent. Takeshi Kovacs is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned – on ice – for centuries until Laurens Bancroft, an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder … that of Bancroft himself.
We caught with three of the show’s stars Dichen Lachman, Will Yun Lee & Renée Goldsberry for an in-depth chat about the show.
OJ Williams: I love the show. What was your first reaction when you got the script? It’s pretty trippy.
Renee Goldberry: My first reaction when I got the script was just excitement because I love the character, Quellcrist Falconer. I love the fact that there’s this woman of color who’s very powerful and fearless with such resolve.
OJ Williams: I’m scared of her.
Renee Goldberry: I was scared to try to be her. I also love the fact that she is a part of this destiny couple because I didn’t think that I would get to see that. I feel like people of color are so often in these worlds, making other people interesting. You know what I mean? I think in this world, we are here to just be people and to do really hugely important things, good or bad, that’s really powerful.
Dichen Lachman: I was extremely excited, and for me, I was like, “Wow, how are they going to do this? This is going to be amazing.” And to see it all unfold and all the detailed work that every single member of the crew put into the show, it was remarkable. It was really an incredible journey.
OJ Williams: A lot of the scenes are a bit racy. Were any of the scenes for you guys a bit intimating to do?
Dichen Lachman: Yeah, it is. And it’s staying true to the book, it’s there to examine and look at our humanity very closely. In terms of intimidating, I don’t know about you guys, but I was nervous about learning how to use the sword and just thinking like, “Am I going to look good doing this?” But they were very kind, and they trained me for three months, I worked really hard, and now I love it. It’s like I think people should start sword workout routines or something.
OJ Williams: What about for you, what was the most challenging part about you in the show?
Will Yun Lee: When I first saw the script, I was excited and then I was scared, and I was like, “This is a lot of work.”
Dichen Lachman: You look amazing, and you had your Taekwondo background.
Will Yun Lee: Yeah. I think it was … I had just finished another show where I had to gain a lot of weight for and Laeta [Kalogridis, the creator] called me and said, “How fast can you lose the weight?” And that was what terrified me because I knew how much work that takes, and how grumpy I’d be for seven weeks.
Dichen Lachman: He was amazing.
Renee Goldberry: He was so grumpy, and he looked fantastic, but it was fun to watch a man with that pressure.
Renee Goldberry: Probably the scariest thing for me was having to be the weapon, having to become strong enough. Even if I didn’t have to become strong enough really, I definitely had to believe that I was strong enough, to war and battle with these two. That was scary, that was a scary thing to do but a fun challenge.
Will Yun Lee: What’s amazing is that, you don’t usually see as a centerpiece that two women are going to kick some ass. It’s always handed off in so many movies where it’s the main superhero male, and then you have the woman who does the little one sidekick. They [Dichen and Renee] are front and center, in the middle of the screen doing their things and it is … I’ve done martial arts for a long time, they’re amazing.
OJ Williams: The whole show has a lot of strong female characters, thankfully. Your characters are all so different, where do you draw from in terms of character inspiration because these characters are characters that I’ve never seen before?
Dichen Lachman: The scripts, and the world, and the book, I feel like when I read the script I immediately responded and knew where they wanted her to be, and that’s in the writing. It tells you who you are, who they imagine this character to be, so then you just dive in and you do your work.
OJ Williams: You just have fun.
Will Yun Lee: But it’s also I think, being someone of color, it’s refreshing that we were allowed a playground work, even though it’s sci-fi. We were actually allowed to talk to each other as human beings. And that in my career has not happened a ton.
Dichen Lachman: It’s rare.
Will Yun Lee: That was the nice part.