Natalie Dormer wears a lot of hats in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels — literally. Dormer stars in the new Showtime drama as Magda, a ruthless, shape-shifting demon who can take on human form. In this exclusive behind-the-scenes video, the actress pulls back the curtain on three of Magda's human aliases, teasing each character's unique motivation — as well as their very different looks.
The most stylish of the group is Rio, a slick young woman who calls the shots in the local pachuco gang. "I love what it feels like to wear that costume," Dormer says in the video, which offers a sneak peek at Rio showing off her moves in a stunning dance sequence.
"If you thought that the youth revolution was the '60s, you're wrong my friends," says Dormer. "It was the '30s."
Rio is a complete 180 from another of Magda's human guises: Alex, the drab but manipulative secretary to a city councilman (Michael Gladis). The actress reveals that she plays the character with a bumper in her mouth to achieve the right look. "I just love Alex," Dormer says. "The vanity is zero."
Finally, there's Elsa, a "delicate" German woman "with a lot of ambition." Elsa sets her sights on Rory Kinnear's Dr. Craft, and in Dormer's words, "she definitely shakes it up."
The actress adds that as much as she was drawn to the challenge of playing so many different roles, what sold her on City of Angels was its themes. "The dangers of demagoguery; the demonization of others; is mankind innately selfish, prejudiced, or is there something fundamentally good about being a human being?" Dormer says. "It's quite big philosophical questions, as well as an incredibly entertaining show."
City of Angels, an all-new story from Penny Dreadful creator John Logan, trades the original show's foggy Victorian London setting for the sun and dust of 1938 Los Angeles. In a time of social and political upheaval, a grisly murder threatens to push tensions in the community past their boiling point — which seems even more likely when Magda has her hands in everyone's business.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels premieres Sunday, April 26 at 10/9c on Showtime.