Rachelle Lefevre previews her Acorn TV series The Sounds.
Lefevre stars as Maggie, who thinks that she’s about to start a new chapter of her life when she and her husband Tom (played by Narcos alum Matt Whelan) move to New Zealand. But then Tom goes missing, leaving Maggie determined not only to find her husband—but uncover the truth that led to his disappearance in the first place.
Precinct TV spoke to Rachelle ahead of this week’s premiere to discuss what drew her into The Sounds, how New Zealand is another character in the series, and how she dealt with the twists and turns Maggie goes through. Hear what she has to say about the drama before you stream episodes 1 and 2 on Acorn TV today.
Precinct TV: What made The Sounds a project that was compelling for you when you read it?
Rachelle Lefevre: The first thing was I really like mystery television. I love being an audience member who’s trying to figure out what is going on, and hoping that I can figure it out before they tell me. I want to be the one that got it, that figured it out.
So [it was] the challenge of portraying a character who was going through all of these things, and having all of these emotions, and all these things happen around her, but playing it in a way that was real and believable. In a way that the audience would have the option and the ability to do the work of going, “What is going on? What is she thinking in that moment? What is that reaction? That’s not what I was expecting.” And trying to figure out sort of like, what’s Maggie up to?
Not being obvious and not giving it all away and just kind of holding my emotional cards close to the vest was a challenge that I really embraced.
Also I went to dinner with the director, Peter Stebbings, before signing on…We ended up having a five-hour dinner. We didn’t leave the restaurant until 11:00. I think both of us left feeling like we very much wanted to work together. I went home and I said to my husband, I definitely could go to New Zealand for three and a half months with this guy in the driver’s seat, and play this part, and go and do this. It felt like a really good partnership right from the beginning.
PTV: Did you have the full story of The Sounds before filming? Or how much information did you get and how did that inform your choices playing Maggie?
RL: I got it all. I had all eight scripts before filming. There were some things that changed while we were filming; they were tweaking the story somewhat as we were going, which presented some challenges. Some changes were necessary on the fly, but I had the broad strokes beforehand, so I knew the character that I was playing.
The most important thing to me, in terms of character-building, is that it isn’t actually about knowing what happens to your character. Whether I knew or I didn’t, what I really needed to know was Maggie’s story, even if the other things around her changed. Where does she come from? Who is she? What’s her backstory? And then where do we find her now? If you establish a character that you know, and that you’re so intimately familiar with, then you just dig into how they would react in a situation or how that might affect them.
PTV: One thing the audience has to know is why Maggie is so locked in to pursuing Ben. She could decide that this is too much for her and walk away. How do you continue to showcase her strength rather than have The Sounds come off as her being suckered into Ben’s story?
RL: I think it’s a fair question and I definitely think there’s a couple of moments in the series where [walking away] looks like an attractive option to her. That definitely gets contemplated. But one of the things that I love so much about Maggie is that she isn’t a victim. She has an incredible amount of agency. That was something that I fought really hard for as we were filming, in the scenes and how to play them. I didn’t want Maggie to be a victim of someone else’s bad choices and secrets.
There is very much a responsibility and a complicity when you are in a marriage….You’ve been with somebody for 20 years. When you’ve been with someone for so long, there’s a moment where you can go either well, I didn’t know. How could I have known? Or there’s a moment of actually, I did know. I didn’t want to know, but I knew. That moment of I didn’t want to know, but I did, I knew exactly what I signed up for and stayed in—that moment is the moment that prevents her from just leaving.
I have accountability here. I am responsible for my own life and my own choices. And I’m going to see this through to the end, whatever that means. I’m going to get the answers I deserve.
PTV: Another strong aspect of The Sounds is that New Zealand is its own character in the show. The town that Maggie and Ben move to and the landscape comes to life. Had you been to New Zealand before and what was it like filming there?
RL: I’d never been there before. And I’m so excited to call Peter Stebbings and tell him that you said that, because it was really important in his vision that New Zealand be a character. The idea of how beautiful this place was, and how expansive it is, how open the possibilities for isolation, how easy it might be to disappear into the beauty and the expansiveness of it all was really part of the mystery. It’s this incredibly appealing, gorgeous place, where of course you’d want to build a business and go and start a new life. Who wouldn’t want to live here?
It starts off as being this character that is beautiful, and magical, and enticing, and seductive. And then it becomes this character that is actually vast, and ominous, and unknowable. I think that both Peter and our amazing [director of photography] David did an incredible job in filming the landscape from that point of view. It starts off colorful and beautiful, and inviting. Then when Tom disappears, the landscape starts to shift and it becomes darker. And the expansiveness, instead of feeling beautiful, starts to feel hopeless, and Maggie feels lost in it. It’s very much a character.
I went to New Zealand, and I was surrounded by the most extraordinary cast. The talent pool there is so deep. Every single person that I worked with, even if they were just in for one day, brought so much to it. There’s so much depth and so much integrity in the performers there.
I hope that they continue to make their own productions, but in addition to that, I hope that when international productions go and film there, that they hire local as much as possible, because they would really be depriving themselves if they didn’t. It was such a gift every day to go to work. There’s such talent there. When productions go to New Zealand, don’t just go for how beautiful it is, hire the actors there too.
PTV: Is there anything you want to say to fellow TV crime drama enthusiasts before they get into The Sounds? Any last-minute thoughts or hints?
RL: I love a deep dive. When I enjoy something, I want to turn over every aspect of it. I know that I’ve done that thoroughly, so I will enjoy that and I’m excited. And to that effect, the thing that I’m really excited about when this premieres is because we have social media and because we have the internet, I will be able to see what people’s theories are.
I’m very curious to see what people’s theories are after each episode is over, when they learn the new things they’ve learned in that episode. So I will be jumping online and I will be checking to see if they’re posting their theories somewhere, and because I want to know them. I want to know how we did!
The Sounds is streaming its first two episodes now on Acorn TV with a 7-day free trial. New episodes premiere Mondays.