“I got to go from being a maternal mamma bear to being an assassin almost. I love it!”
Melissa George gets the role of a lifetime in Margot Fox, a former professor on the run with her husband, played by a glinty-eyed Justin Theroux. In Apple TV+’s engrossing new drama series, The Mosquito Coast, Margot and Allie have lived a seemingly quiet life off the grid but something dangerous is lurking behind every corner. Their kids, played by Logan Polish and Gabriel Bateman, are getting older and asking more questions about how their lives aren’t like those of other teenagers. Freedom is always a mirage just out of reach.
On the surface, George’s Margot could appear timid and less assured than her husband, but there is a hidden strength to George’s performance. There are moments where George’s eye dart around like a sly cat and she takes control like a ferocious beast trapped in a cage. It’s an unpredictable element to her performance that makes watching her so worthwhile.
“She’s always had [that strength] in her. The goal was to show a little bit more every episode without revealing too much to her husband or her children. At the beginning, she’s strong because she’s a mother. Since I know where the character is going, I have the fortune and the ability to show sides of her discreetly. The moments where she is put in situations she can pull out the fierce mother that she knows she can be. She is well-equipped but she doesn’t act alone. There are looks between her and Allie and there are no secrets between them. I love that between these characters. He lets her be–which I love–and when she takes charge, doesn’t object to it. She is biding her time.”
The chemistry between George and Theroux crackles. We constantly assume that Allie will never give up control or the leadership of his brood, but their marriage is a partnership through and through. Margot can shoot Allie a lot across a crowded room, and he will understand exactly what she needs from him and what they need to do. We never question that unspoken bond.
“Towards the end, she realizes she’s better on her own and she wants to be caught. Each episode was an opportunity to show another side of Margot. By the end of the season, she’s beaten down and doesn’t want to live this double life anymore. She feels defeated but it gives her more venom and ammunition. We rehearsed the hell out of it to find the moments where she is observing and thinking and planning. My goal was that if I was thinking it, hopefully the camera was capturing it. To me, it was an exercise in thought hoping that my face will read enough that the camera will pick it up which was so much fun to do Sometimes dialogue can get in the way of a good moment. You can do nothing and it means more than a scene with a lot of dialogue.”
In the first episode, Margot tearfully calls her mom to wish her a happy birthday and she breaks down at the payphone. Is Margot about to run? When she returns home, Allie shares his escape plan with his wife, and her face lights up with so much glee that we wonder how much power Allie has over his wife. Is she brainwashed or merely going along with it? Is she too a victim?
“She’s transfixed. The Margot I’m closest to is the one who calls her mom on the phone. That’s not pretending. There are no children around her and she doesn’t have to worry about Allie looking over her shoulder. She’s able to really express how scared she is, and then there is that brainwash moment when she tells Allie she thinks it’s a good idea. There is a moment where it’s not her being brainwashed because if she doesn’t go along with it, she’s dead in the water. Margot is manipulated completely. I know the ending, so I was able to switch around from being brainwashed to being transfixed to getting off on the high of it all. It’s very Bonnie and Clyde and it’s a vicious circle.”
When we spoke about the courtship between Allie and Margot, George kept it cryptic. I could hear in her voice that she didn’t want to reveal too much and that their history plays into what we might see in season two.
“She was a professor and from a wealthy family, but she was seduced by Allie. Nine years later, she had to change her identity. She can’t get out of it. I can’t give too much away, but there is a very specific reason why she’s not leaving Allie.”
At the end of the first season, Margot and Allie’s son, Charlie, commits an unspeakable crime, and it makes the family’s situation more dire. In the heart-stopping finale, we can’t help but wonder if the parents regret their actions because of how that behavior has bled into their children. Their kids don’t know any other life, and that is one of Margot’s biggest fears.
“She’s terrified of that mostly because he is a lot like her. He find that pistol in the desert and he keeps it to himself. What happens in episode, we see where he is learning these things. She wants to get caught and is just hoping that the kids can go back to safety with her mom. She is afraid of many things and she is terrified of what is coming to her as well. Margot is tired. It’s nine years in hiding. If she can use her children as a sort of pawn piece, she will do it. They utilize their children to get to what they need sometimes. What will be, will be.”
As a viewer, you wonder why the Foxes don’t just turn themselves into the police, but you also want to see if they can get away with it. “It’s exhausting,” George laughs at the end of our chat. “I could never do it.”