1 of 5 | "Dead Ringers," starring Jennifer Ehle (L) and Emily Meade, is now streaming. Photo courtesy of Prime Video
NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- 1923 actress Jennifer Ehle says Rebecca Parker, the pharmaceutical company heiress she plays in the new thriller series, Dead Ringers, has no qualms about supporting the trailblazing, but unscrupulous work of two brilliant doctors, as long as it means she will benefit financially from it.
"She's an opioid heiress and I think she's been raised with the mandate to help the world keep spinning on its access by investing in things that will be enormously profitable," Ehle told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
"My character has no ethics at all -- or morality. What's moral to Rebecca is making lots of money."
Succession and Lady Macbeth writer Alice Birch's contemporary reimagining of David Cronenberg's 1988 movie, Dead Ringers, is now streaming on Prime Video.
The six-part drama stars Rachel Weisz in the dual roles of Elliot and Beverly Mantle, twin obstetrician/gynecologists, who dream of setting up a private birthing center/laboratory financed by Parker and her younger, idealistic fourth wife Susan, played by The Deuce alum Emily Meade.
"It was really fun to feel so engaged in something that was so challenging and provocative and bold and funny and smart and sexy and sort of bat [expletive] crazy," Ehle said.
Meade was happy to tell an entertaining story that talked about something important -- women's healthcare.
"I like anything that touches on touchy things," she said. "The character was something I'd never really seen or gotten to play."
Ehle hadn't seen the movie since it came out when she was 18. She remembered loving it and feeling creeped out by it, but not too much else.
Meade screened it after she completed work on and watched the series in its entirety.
"I was a fan of this Dead Ringers before I got to see that Dead Ringers and it was really interesting to see the differences and similarities next to each other," Meade said.
The connective tissue between the two iterations is the co-dependency of the twins.
"All four [characters] are gynecologists, but I think the motive in the Cronenberg film is different. They're men and the time is different," Meade said.
"There's more humor in the series. They are both commentary, but I don't know that they're even commenting on the same things. Alice, the writer, inserted Easter eggs and crossovers just to honor the first one, which I think was cool."
Ehle found the wicked, brutally honest comedy woven through the show appropriate and effective.
"Humor is the best delivery system for challenging, provocative concepts and arguments," she said.
"It is very exciting to be a part of something that engages that deeply. It was wonderful to hear the audience [at the premiere] and how much humor they got and how much they laughed because the jokes in this are only funny if you are fully engaged."
Meade doesn't think a male showrunner would have had the perspective or comfort level to tell this specific story about the birthing industry.
"Coming from the inside out of experiencing it and being able to have that sense of irony, I think the darker places you go, you can find the humor in that and it couldn't come from anyone who hasn't had first-hand experience," Meade said.
Business-minded Rebecca gets along better with the more audacious Elliot than she does with Beverly.
"She thinks Elliot could make a lot more money and do groundbreaking science," Ehle said.
"Beverly is a little tedious and looks like she could possibly sap some of the revenue with her altruism and empathy. She's a little bit of an obstacle, honestly."
Susan, on the other hand, is enamored of Beverly, according to Meade.
"She's probably projecting a lot of desire for her mommy issues onto Beverly. She's a little bit in love, a little bit desirous of her being her mother," Meade said.
"I don't think Susan really understands Elliot. She knows Elliot needs to be there, but she is very focused on Beverly."