Terror star Tobias Menzies: Our TV show needed strong woman to be shipshape

Interview by Emma Powell for the Evening Standard, 28th March 2018

The original book had one female character who is a “silent native”.

Tobias Menzies says it was vital that the plot of his horror series The Terror was adapted to make sure there was a strong female role.

In the 2007 Dan Simmons novel about the crew of HMS Terror, who were lost in the Canadian Arctic in the 19th century, the only woman is a “silent native”.

But Menzies, who plays Edmure Tully on Game Of Thrones, said having a lone, mute female character in the TV adaptation could have been controversial. In the series Lady Silence, played by Greenlander Nive Nielsen, can speak.

Menzies, who stars as Captain James Fitzjames, said: “In the novel she is mute from the beginning, but [the creators] felt it was important that if there would be the lone female voice in the show it was important that it was one that could speak and be eloquent. They have her as a character that is very much able to communicate. That idea of the silent native was not really one that would float very well in our times.”

HMS Terror set off from England in 1845 to forge a trading route through the Northwest Passage. The crew’s mysterious fate inspired Simmons’ story of them being stalked by a monster. The wreck was found in Terror Bay in 2016.

Menzies said he’s not a huge fan of horror but feels the series is “one of the finest things” he has ever worked on.

He said: “The honest truth is most of the time one often doesn’t love what ones made and has various gripes with it but this is an exception. I think it’s really one of the finest things I’ve been involved with. I’m proud of it.”

The series, which also stars Jared Harris and Ciarán Hinds, was shot on location for seven months in Budapest, Hungary and the Croatian island of Pag. Menzies joked that filming with a huge cast and crew in confined sets tested his patience and took “plenty of good will”.

This interview was originally published by the Evening Standard. It has been reposted here for posterity.