Hannah Levien: Flavor of the Month
Words + Interview By Tyrone Davis
Hannah Levien is an Austrailian actress and writer who has been seen in TV series, “Supernatural”, Syfy’s “The Magicians” and Freeform’s “Siren”. She and I discussed her love for “Lord of the Rings”, why being weird can be a good thing, mysteries of the world and more. Hannah can currently be seen starring as Christine Woods in Netflix’s “Brand New Cherry Flavor”. Enjoy!
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up in Brisbane, Australia. My childhood was busy. I have a big family and both my parents worked. I have memories of hot summers and playing in the garden with my siblings for hours until late, inventing games, laughing and fighting. It was very lively.
What is the biggest misconception about Australia?
That we throw a lot of “shrimp on the barbie”… Correction: we call them prawns, not shrimp.
What is your relationship with “Lord of the Rings” and why is it significant to you?
My eldest sister read me LOTR when I was seven years old. It just blew my mind. Such a vast, fantasy world. It just filled my mind with images and stories. That book still inspires me today. Such great characters. What a story.
Other than a few film clips, I have never seen any of the “Lord of the Rings” films nor read any of the books. For people like myself, what would be the top 3 reasons we should check them out?
1) It’s an iconic book and film series.
2) Aragorn is a total babe.
3) Gandalf the Grey is goals for any hero in a story.
What did you learn about yourself while attending the University of Sydney?
I learned that when it comes to university, you just gotta get in and get it done. Studying can be so overwhelming, especially if you have very high expectations of yourself. You just gotta be kind to yourself, have supportive people around you and get the courses done.
Tell us about Netflix’s, “Brand New Cherry Flavor” and your role as Christine Woods.
BNCF is based on the novel by Todd Grimson. The premise is: A filmmaker, Lisa Nova (played by Rosa Salazar) heads to Hollywood in the early ‘90s to make her first feature film but tumbles down a hallucinatory rabbit hole of sex, magic, revenge…and kittens, lol. I play Christine Woods, an Australian real estate agent living in LA and dating Lisa’s ex boyfriend Code (Manny Jacinto The Good Place) a kind, designer drug dealer. Christine becomes Lisa’s unlikely friend and co-conspirator in her revenge mission.
How did you prepare for the role?
The series is a wild ride. It’s really a total trip and on set we all just had to commit and jump in. It felt like we took a lot of risks but that’s an exciting space to work in. To prepare for my role in BNCF (Brand New Cherry Flavor), I did a few different things. Aside from breaking down the scenes with my acting coach, I also did a “ride along” with a friend who is a real estate agent, haha.
We went to a few open houses and I observed everything. It was fun! I also had an animal persona for my character (a flamingo) and certain songs I would listen to on set (Maniac by Michael Sembello is one of them, hahaha!). It all helps flesh it out for me and makes the process one of discovery and surprise.
Kittens…….Tell us about the kittens.
Lol…I didn’t have much to do with the kittens but what Rosa had to go through with those kittens is very impressive. You have to watch the show to believe it!
What do you think about the feedback you have received about the show via social media?
It’s been wonderful. People are really resonating with the show and the characters. It’s so fun to be a part of. Particularly the fan art. It has been so impressive! So many striking visuals in the show that people have captured. It’s so cool.
In your opinion, why can being “weird” be a good thing?
Weird keeps us curious and questioning things. Life without “weird” would be so dull and lifeless.
Explain the process of selecting roles. Do you prefer a certain type based on your interests or do you take them as they come?
I find something to love and be curious about with every role I play. I’m drawn to characters who have autonomy and make clear decisions that push the story forward.
What are your “Top 5” favorite films of all time?
Labyrinth, Deerhunter, True Romance, Stand By Me, and Y Tu Mama Tambien.
I’m going to throw a few names out there. Say whatever comes to mind.
A) Rosa Salazar – Wild
B) Ivana Chubbuck – Intense
C) Mercutio – Poetic
D) Breonna Taylor – Justice
What was your experience working on Freeform’s, “Siren” as Janine?
It was a lot of fun. Janine was such a lovable, ballsy character. It was a great team, cast and crew and I made some lifelong friends on that show.
A few years ago, we interviewed Ian Verdun who plays Xander McClure on the show. Did you get the opportunity to work with him at all during the series?
Many! Ian is fantastic. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
What do you think of mermaids as a whole?
I love the folklore of mermaids and the connection of that to nature. I think marine life is fascinating.
When I was a kid, I spent some time living in Germany and I remember Nessie (The Loch Ness Monster) being a hot topic. What are 3 unusual subjects that you are interested in that pertain to mysteries of the world?
Space, Coincidences and Ghosts.
There are so many TV shows, films and other content being released these days that we can hardly keep up. What is your take on that?
There is a lot of content. The pandemic and the closure of cinemas has definitely changed how we consume entertainment. I still think word of mouth is best form of marketing for any series or film!
When was the last time you laughed hysterically and why?
It involved a pool in Palm Springs and a very funny family being reunited for the first time in a long time. I can’t say much more than that but their antics and joy were hilarious and infectious.
Tell us something about yourself that most don’t know.
I am learning Tai Chi!
What can we expect from you next?
I have a sci-fi feature film in development. It’s based on a short film I wrote and acted in called Hunting Season. We played a lot of film festivals through 2019 and had such a great response so we’re turning it into a feature!
Photo By Corey Nickols
Hair/Makeup: Aaron Barry