It's that time of year again. The weather's at its coldest and most of us are fighting the urge to do anything other than curl up indoors and binge a new TV series. You've seen Stranger Things, The Crown, and you're back to watching reruns of Breaking Bad — but now it's time for something a little bit different.
Shut Eye follows Charlie Haverford, a scammer with a small chain of LA psychic storefronts and the crime families behind his business. Charlie’s wife, Linda is sick and tired of their mediocre life and wants to break away from Fonso, the single father who runs the Marks family psychic empire, and who controls the Haverford’s future.
Young Vancouver actress, Havana Guppy stars in both seasons one and two as Drina Marks, a teenager forced into marriage at the age of 15, who strives to navigate her position within the complexities of her gypsy mafia family and struggles to break free from Roma traditions.
Read on as I talk to Havana about what we can expect from the show, her passion for acting, and what she does for fun outside of the acting world.
Hey, Havana! Can you start by telling me a little bit about your background and how you got into acting?
I grew up in Vancouver, BC and started acting when I was about four-years-old. To begin with, I would go out to commercial auditions, but when my best friend's mum (who was a casting agent) hooked us up with another agent, I started to get more and more into it. At around eight or nine I started going to more film classes, and that's really when I found my love TV and film and my passion for acting began.
Great! So you play Drina Marks in Shut Eye — is there anything particular about that role or about the script that drew you in?
When I first read the audition scene, I felt a huge connection to Drina. She didn't really know where she fit in and for that, I not only felt sympathy towards her, but as someone who struggled with something similar at school, I felt I had an understanding of what she might be feeling. I wanted to be able to portray her and do a lot more with the character, so I was thrilled when I found out I had landed the role.
For anyone that hasn't seen Shut Eye, is there another show you would liken it to?
Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of anything. It’s pretty unique. If you like dark comedies, you’ll enjoy Shut Eye. And I'd also say it's recommended for an older audience.
You starred in both seasons one and two. How did they compare?
Seasons one and two were so different for me. A huge part of that was the fact that I was living in LA on my own for almost four months. I felt more like I was part of a family during the filming of season two. I grew a lot closer to everyone on the show. It was a really special experience that I’ll always hold close to my heart.
Do you travel with your family when filming? How does that work?
When filming season two, I had two short trips home, and my mom came down with me at first to help me settle in. Now we're done filming I'm back in Vancouver, but I’m looking forward to spending more time in LA in the near future.
How do you find filming in Vancouver?
Filming in Vancouver is great because I get to be home with my friends and family. But I feel like working somewhere different leads to a bigger adventure and learning a lot of new things.
Is Drina your favourite character you've played?
Drina is definitely one of my favourite characters. I’ve felt the strongest emotional connection to her, compared to some of the other characters I’ve played.
I'd love to hear more about any shows that you love or anyone in the industry that inspires you personally.
I actually got to work with someone on Shut Eye who's sort of became my idol. Isabella Rosilini plays my Grandmother on the show, and working with her was just incredible. I learnt so much about being an actress and generally just being in the industry from her, and her career is definitely one I aspire towards.
What did you learn from her?
I think the main piece of advice I took from her was how I can speak out about my ideas for my character, which is something I haven't always been confident about until now.
Any other shows or movies on the horizon for you?
As of right now I don’t have anything on the go, but I’ve been getting pretty busy with auditions, so hopefully I'll have a new project soon!
What's the number one place on your bucket list?
My dream is to go to Greece. I’ve always thought it looked so beautiful. I’d also love to go to France and Italy.
If you could play any role — whether a character from a book, or an existing character on a TV show or film — what would it be and why?
If I was 12 years old again, I’d love to play Eleven in Stranger Things. I just really love the show, and she's one of my favourite characters.
Do you have friends in the industry?
Yes, a lot of my friends are in the industry! Every time I work on a project, I gain even more friends. I’ve met so many lovely people from this job.
What do you find most difficult about being in the industry?
I found rejection can be tough. Especially when I was a younger teen, constantly training, and auditioning, and still not booking. Eventually, I got over that and understood there’s no way of avoiding rejection in this business.
How do you find juggling acting with your daily life?
During high school, I struggled at times, trying to balance all my work, and missing school. Now that I’ve graduated, it’s so much easier. I’m just able to focus on acting, it’s great.
Shut Eye seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming on Hulu.