ALISON WRIGHT IS standing in the middle of a silent soundstage in Vancouver. The English actress, who plays Ruth in Snowpiercer – one of the crew of a miles-long train that’s been circling the globe since an icy apocalypse befell the Earth – is masked up and holding an iPad on the end of a selfie stick. Behind her, a couple of similarly masked crew members go about their work, and we catch a glimpse of a number of plush train interiors. “Welcome to the set of Snowpiercer,” Alison beams. “We’re so sorry we couldn’t have you here in person, but welcome to our virtual set visit for season two.”
Set visits transformed in the year 2020. In the past, SFX would have been invited to nose around the set in person after signing our life away with a number of embargoes. That can’t happen in the midst of a pandemic. So today, we’re sitting in front of our laptop at home watching Alison take us on a virtual tour via Zoom. Thankfully, it’s almost as eye-opening and thrilling as being there in the flesh. Almost.
Snowpiercer is filmed at Martini Studios in Langley City, which is on the outskirts of Vancouver. “We’ve taken over four very big soundstages here,” explains Alison as she wanders around a very recognisable set. “We’re currently on Stage Six. This includes the sets of the hospitality department, which includes the Radio Room. This is where Ruth works, loves and lives.”
If you’ve not watched every episode of season one, prepare for some spoilers as Alison continues: “There were quite a lot of scenes in here between Ruth and Jennifer Connelly’s character, Melanie. It’s in here that Ruth realised Melanie was much more than just her boss in hospitality; that Melanie was in fact running the train. It was a big betrayal for Ruth. Up until that point, they had been on the train for seven years and Ruth thought they were good friends and co-workers. She had no idea about Melanie’s secret life. I don’t know if Ruth will ever trust her again.”
Wandering down the train’s tight corridors, Alison stops for a little hand sanitiser before revealing what excites her the most about the second season of the show, which adds the occupants of a secondary supply train, Big Alice, to the mix – one of whose passengers is the CEO whose company created Snowpiercer.
“Ruth is obsessed with Mr Wilford and the train,” Alison admits. “She’s thrilled and hopeful about meeting him, but she quickly discovers that he’s not the man she thought he was. Everything about him begins to tarnish very quickly, which is a thrilling thing to play.”
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