INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM

Acting seemed like a natural choice for Sylvia Hoeks, star of the Apple TV+ series See, where she plays the tyrannical and murderous Queen Kane in a world where everyone is blind. The Holland native grew up in a town with a population of about 3,000, managing to be the only member of her family glued to the TV set.

Working as a model prior to attending drama school, Sylvia is more than just a pretty face, and intends to bring depth and nuance to each character she portrays just the same. So perfect in her villainous roles with her willingness to unhinge, she also taps into the psyches of these antagonists in a way that only the best performers are able to do. Also starring in one of the biggest films in recent years, Blade Runner 2049, the actress has made quite a name for herself in the fandom world.

Able to get incredibly deep while also showcasing her genuine joy of life, Sylvia is truly on another level. She’s one of the few celebrities who doesn’t shy away from her own authenticity, and yet still has such a jovial spirit that simultaneously embraces and defies modern cynicism. The conversation with the actress ranges from delightfully unpredictable to incisively insightful as she talks to Galaxy about all things, including See, which just finished wrapping its third season, and the importance of maintaining your identity in a modern world of subconscious emulation.

SPOILER: You started modeling at 14. Was acting on your mind at that point?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Yes! I actually never really wanted to be a model. I was always a little shy, so the modeling did help me with presenting myself outwardly to people. I think if I hadn’t done the modeling, I would have never gotten into theater school, which I auditioned for when I was about 18. And I did four years of that. 19 was my first film experience. I really fell in love with the camera and the idea that you don’t have to do a lot for people to really understand what you’re feeling or sensing or thinking.

I always wanted to act. I was the only one in my family who was watching TV all the time [laughs]. It made me feel like I understood myself and the world better.

SPOILER: For fans out there, what is See about?

SYLVIA HOEKS: See is about a world 600 years in the future that has become blind because of a virus. And it’s been blind for hundreds of years until now, when twins are born who can see, and that changes the whole scenario.

SPOILER: Is it hard playing a character who’s blind?

SYLVIA HOEKS: In the beginning, there was a little bit of adjusting, but I actually really like it right now. When I do movies in between filming See, it’s actually pretty weird to look at the other actors [laughs]. It is interesting what other things come to you when you’re playing somebody who can’t see. The other senses become much more important, so it was actually really fun to learn.

SPOILER: What is it like playing Queen Kane? How’d you come up with that voice?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I have a lot of fun with Queen Kane. She’s so much fun to play. She’s just ridiculous. I don’t know how the voice happened [laughs]. I was watching an interview with Lou Reed from back in the day and he was just kinda f**king around with journalists, and I kind of just took his voice and the way he was pronouncing stuff, and I sort of ran with it and that became the voice of Queen Kane.

SPOILER: How much of yourself is in Queen Kane?

SYLVIA HOEKS: [laughs] I think anything you can’t really sort out in real life because there’s too many consequences, you just do it on set. I think in real life I’m maybe too nice of a person. Setting boundaries is hard, so I think just messing around with this character on set is just so much fun for me. It’s always fun to play a character that’s a long way away from you.

SPOILER: Do you think your character, Luv, in Blade Runner 2049 is a precursor to Queen Kane?

SYLVIA HOEKS: [laughs] I never thought of that, but I guess they both like to f**k around with people a little bit. Even though Luv is a robot, there are things that are a little bit f**ked up with her; there are some errors there. And with Queen Kane, I think there’s definitely some errors there, though they’re human. I just love to define how far I can go with that. With Luv, there were some opportunities to touch on that a little bit. And then with Queen Kane, who’s much more vocal, it has gone much further with the craziness. It’s a different way of portraying that. It definitely has been a study in mental illness I think.

SPOILER: Do you ever get exhausted at times?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Oh yeah, definitely. But it’s always so much fun. And I’m genuinely interested in the psychology of the characters. I think if I weren’t an actor, I would have studied psychology. And I think what I always try to do is take people who, in our society, aren’t so easily understandable, and make them a little bit more understandable. That’s always my journey and I think that’s very important. Mental illness is something that’s not talked about enough openly. And that’s why it’s always so important for me to bring some sense of humor to the role of Queen Kane instead of her only being an evil queen. Because, despite her wrongdoings and the way she thinks, I think it’s important to show young girls that women don’t always have to be sexy and smart to be interesting.

SPOILER: What advice would you give someone trying to be an actor?

SYLVIA HOEKS: These days, with social media, we’re driven so much by being seen and being heard. It’s like your virtual life is more important than your actual life. And I think what’s most important for young people is to also take time for yourself and not only be on TikTok or Instagram, but just be in your own life and notice what you notice, and have your drive be through the authenticity of how you look at the world instead of only looking at what other people think of the world through social media. I think it’s really important to find that within yourself. I think the only way you can be happy or give to other people is by your own authenticity. And it sounds like a cliché, but that’s the way they go. We always want to look like other people, but the most interesting thing is your own authenticity.

SPOILER: What makes you smile and what scares you the most?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Well, my dogs crack me up every day because they are the most ridiculous animals. With COVID, they got me through that whole year of having to be inside. I’m really happy that they were with me. And what scares me the most is losing my loved ones. Not dying myself, but losing people while I’m still alive.

SPOILER: What’s your favorite type of movie to act in?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I would say something like Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos—all of his movies—I’m really a fan of his. Or Wes Anderson. Or Denis Villeneuve, who I’ve worked with [on Blade Runner 2049], he’s just one of the best.

SPOILER: If you could work on any project, what would it be?

SYLVIA HOEKS: If they ever did a remake of The Piano Teacher with Isabelle Huppert, I would love to be in that. Or I’d love to play Ripley in a new Alien remake. What I love about Ridley Scott is the humor he brings in. And he always portrays strong women. I just love him.

SPOILER: Do you like sci-fi the most?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I do like sci-fi, but I also like more arthouse movies. I love to freestyle; I love to improvise.

SPOILER: Do you ever just sit in awe of the amazing production design on See?

SYLVIA HOEKS: If you find yourself on set and you’re able to just pretend that you’re someone and just roll with it, that’s just fantastic. When I was young, my parents had a big garden and I would play in the trees and make my own treehouse and make my own little storylines. Now I’m doing that, and I get paid. It’s ridiculous if you think about it. So I’m very lucky and I’m very grateful to get to do what I do. When you look at these big sets and you get to work with all these great actors and directors, it’s a dream come true really. I’m living my best life I think is that how you say that? [laughs]

SPOILER: What was your first experience like at a convention? Did it feel surreal to have people waiting in line to meet you?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Yes, that always is a surreal feeling. You always end up feeling like, “Are you talking to me?” and you look behind you if someone’s standing there [laughs]. Because you’re always yourself and you’re always still that little girl from a little village in Holland. So it’s always a bit surreal because you love playing these characters, but you never see yourself as those characters. It’s interesting. The first time was with Blade Runner, and it was just crazy how many people were so loving. The lines are so long. It feels weird. I’m always like, “You want a coffee?” [laughs]. I love that people are so enthusiastic. When I was a kid, I oved watching movies and going into that different universe. I understand that feeling and I’m so happy that people are excited about See or Blade Runner.

SPOILER: Did you actually have to shave your head for Queen Kane?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Yes! That was actually my idea. I kinda wanted to make it more punk rock. I wanted to do it a little bit differently [from the typical evil queen]. Especially since it’s a blind world. And you know how a lot of people shave their heads after something traumatic happens to them, as sort of a new beginning? I wanted to have her be like that because a lot of s**t happened to her before we meet her in the first episode. And I had told my husband about this, but I think he was a little bit distracted when I told him [laughs], and I came home from set with my head shaved and his face just dropped. He was pale. He looked at me like I had done the worst thing in the world to him [laughs]. Like, for a full year he couldn’t let it go. He was like, “You didn’t tell me!” and I was like, “I did tell you!” With actors, if you’re stuck with something when you play a character, like if you have to gain weight or lose weight or whatever you have to do, your family also goes through that same thing.

SPOILER: How did it feel getting your head shaved?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I had fun! I really wanted to see what that character would look like. First, we tried a mohawk, which I found to be a little bit too much, and also it’s not practical why would a blind woman have a mohawk? So then we went with a shaved head, and I loved it. You can feel the wind on your skin. But I also learned how much guys are about hair [laughs].

SPOILER: Do you believe in the paranormal?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Yes, but I’ve never experienced anything paranormal. Or I always just think that the sounds are coming from my dogs. I’m also not a person who would go and play with Ouija boards, because I do believe in it, so I won’t mess with it.

SPOILER: Of all the actors and actresses you’ve worked with, which one would you say made the biggest impression?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Just being on set with Harrison Ford, I was really peeing my pants. He’s just so funny, he made it so easy to work with him. Such a great guy. I had to really come to work because he was Harrison Ford! But he was just so wonderful. And another person I would say is Robin Wright. I had a scene in Blade Runner where I killed her. She’s such a badass lady. I grab her hand and I break that glass that she’s holding inside her hand. And I had been training for months, six days a week, six hours a day—I was all jacked up, I was really strong. So I just kept asking her, “Am I hurting you?” and she was like, “No, no!” I mean, I can’t believe I didn’t hurt her, but she was such a great sport about it.

SPOILER: What’s it like working with Jason Momoa?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I haven’t met anyone like him. He just keeps surprising me with who he is. He has so many sides to him. He’ll be so enthusiastic about a scene and so [into] it that it’s so much fun to play with him. He’s such a great guy. He always gives his all to every scene, and that’s really just the best when you’re on set with someone who’s there 100%.

SPOILER: Would you ever want to meet one of your characters in real life?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I would love to meet either Queen Kane or Luv if there was a glass wall in between us [laughs] so I could ask them questions. That would be interesting. I just wouldn’t want to be killed by them necessarily—that’s always the risk. But I would love to meet Luv because I would want to understand more about what model she would be and if they were actually human genetics that created these human emotions that she has that she doesn’t know how to deal with.

SPOILER: Do you ever sing in the shower?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Oh yeah. And what I do, which my husband finds very annoying, is I keep repeating the same line over and over because I don’t know the words to the rest of the song.

SPOILER: What is the weirdest question you’ve ever gotten asked in an interview?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I was at a premiere once, and there was a presenter from some random program about sex who was [there asking questions], and I had no idea who he was. And I was expecting a question about the movie I was in, and they started asking sex questions on camera, like personal stuff. So I just backed up and showcased my dress and said, “Really nice, huh? This is made by…” [laughs] That was my only way out. I was very young, so I didn’t know how to deal with that. I was too nice.

SPOILER: What’s your favorite food?

SYLVIA HOEKS: Lasagna.

SPOILER: Is there anything you want to tell the fans out there?

SYLVIA HOEKS: I just want to thank them for watching See. It means a lot that there’s such a big following. We’re so excited and happy that you love it, so thank you all so much!

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Galaxy

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