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Daveed Diggs: Unity is key theme in 'Snowpiercer' Season 3

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"Snowpiercer" Season 3 kicks off on Monday. Photo courtesy of TNT
"Snowpiercer" Season 3 kicks off on Monday. Photo courtesy of TNT

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Tony-winning Hamilton icon Daveed Diggs says Season 3 of his post-apocalyptic drama, Snowpiercer, will show his leader character Layton attempting to bring warring factions among train passengers back together.

"Layton wants to unify the train, I think, for reasons that are different than before," Diggs told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

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"He's learning to be a little more selfish by virtue of the fact that he is going to be a father, and trying to figure out how there is any sort of world for his kid involves unifying the train," he added. "He wants to keep his people around him who he loves and who are close to him. Both of those things are really challenging in Season 3."

Inspired by a 1982 graphic novel and 2013 film of the same name, the series is about survivors of a cataclysmic weather event who become the class-divided passengers of a perpetually moving, 1,000-car train that has been circumnavigating a frozen Earth for nearly a decade.

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Season 3, which debuts Monday on TNT, kicks off on the 10-car pirate train, which Layton and his followers detached from Snowpiercer so they could go and follow up on information missing scientist Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) left them regarding possible warm spots in which the passengers might be able to resettle.

Meanwhile, tyrannical Snowpiercer creator Wilford (Sean Bean) is chasing them down at great risk to the thousands of passengers -- including Layton's pregnant girlfriend Zarah (Sheila Vand) -- struggling to survive on the main train with dwindling resources.

In addition to taking back control of Snowpiercer from Wilford and reuniting the passengers of the two trains, Layton also wants to let the people decide whether they should continue looking for an off-train oasis.

Asked if the events of Season 3 put Layton closer to or further from his goals, Diggs replied: "He's probably closer to them, but, like everything on Snowpiercer, nothing is cut and dry. The wins are never total wins."

Onboard the pirate train with Layton are his ex-girlfriend, Josie (Katie McGuinness,) Melanie's daughter, Alex (Rowan Blanchard), Melanie's boyfriend, as well as train engineer Bennett (Iddo Goldberg) and train detective Bess Till (Mickey Sumner).

"After all that's happened in Seasons 1 and 2, Josie needs for all of the stuff that they've been through to have been worth it," McGuinness said.

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"So, there is a newfound determination to find a new way that works for these people that is sustainable and is supportive of everyone's needs and wants, as best as it can be. The stakes are all ratched up a notch."

Although Layton and Josie work well together, their past romance causes tension in their new situation.

"They are trying to keep it professional. They have so much history and so much has changed," Diggs said.

"It's a tightrope between trying to continue their mission for the greater good of the train, but we're always pulled by our own emotional landscape," McGuinness said.

One of Diggs' favorite aspects to explore on the show through Layton is the concept of democracy and how fragile and fluid it is.

"Generally speaking, the way we look at democratic propaganda is democracy is good and everything else is bad, but Layton makes so many mistakes and so much of what he does has bad results, I think that is important to keep that in mind while watching it," he said. "Democracy is not perfect. You have to really work with a thing if you want that particular experiment to work."

McGuinness added, "All systems have failings. Acknowledging that and the mutability of that is something that is really lovely about the show."

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She also sees the story that drives Snowpiercer as an optimistic one.

"I find it really warming," she laughed. "After the experiences they all go through, there is, in so many of the characters, still a core of hope. ... Ultimately, as humans, we are hopeful, and it is nice that that is played out in sort of an extreme way."

Sumner describes Till as feeling a bit lost when the new season begins.

"She's not an engineer. There's no detecting happening. There's no brakeman activity. She's sort of a reluctant jailer of the prisoners. She has to feed them and make sure they are still behaving," the actress said of life on the pirate train.

"She's slightly checked out at this point, and I think she is questioning the mission, but I think Alex and Till have struck up a sweet sisterly relationship."

Blanchard agreed with that characterization, explaining that Alex admires Till's determination and looks up to her.

"Alex, obviously, threw Wilford for a loop," Blanchard said of how Alex betrayed the ruthless man who raised her. "She is once again separated from her mother, but she is with all of these people who also have cared for her and, in Season 3, it is interesting to see how she lets that in."

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Shifting alliances will continue to threaten to derail any possible harmony on Snowpiercer this season, the actresses teased without venturing into spoiler territory.

"The question that Till is forced to deal with is the line between loyalty and truth," Sumner said. "She has trust issues, but she pushes herself this season to let go and look into her heart."

"Everybody is fighting for their survival, so there is always a sense of where do people's hearts lie versus what is realistic for them," Blanchard said.

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