Altered Carbon star on nudity, tech and motherhood
ALTERED Carbon is one of Netflix's most ambitious series so far, and it certainly challenged Dichen Lachman.
The Nepalese-born, Australian-raised actor is a sci-fi genre veteran, having starred in the likes of Being Human, The 100, The Last Ship and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since her breakthrough role in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.
But an intense fight sequence wasn't what she expected for her first ever nude scene.
In one of her most memorable scenes as Reileen Kawahara, sister to Altered Carbon's protagonist Takeshi Kovacs (played by both Joel Kinnaman and Will Yun Lee), Dichen stripped bare to fight Martha Higareda's police woman Kristin Ortega.
"Of course I was nervous - everyone has their hang ups about how they look - but once I read the scene and I realised the context of it I thought it was really powerful. To see a woman naked in that way fighting so fiercely was something I hadn't seen before," she says.
"I always expected my first nude scene to be in a sexual context. It was a difficult shoot but by the end I felt really strong and I thought to myself 'If I can do this I can do anything'."
Altered Carbon is set in a future world where the human consciousness has been digitised and people can change bodies, referred to as sleeves, almost as easily as we change outfits.
A body can die while the person's mind, housed in a round disk called a stack, lives on.
But this technology has come with consequences. The rich and powerful have used immortality to become more rich and powerful. The disposable nature of sleeves has also created a moral minefield, stoking some of humanity's darkest desires.
"Altered Carbon makes you ask a lot of questions about sexuality, violence against women, income inequality, access to healthcare - it's endless," Dichen says.
"On a personal note I feel like this technology is knocking on our door and it terrifies me - maybe not in our lifetime but maybe my daughter's. The show is a warning. Progress is important and technology is crucial, but I think we have to be responsible and check in with each other and ourselves about where we draw lines."
Set within this strange, fantastical world is a murder mystery. After more than two centuries "on ice" to pay for his crimes as part of the rebellion against the new technology, Takeshi Kovac returns to life in a new body and must solve the mind-bending murder of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) to win his freedom.
During his investigation he discovers his sister, presumed dead after the rebellion's ill-fated final battle, is not only alive but a powerful player in this new world. But their happy reunion doesn't last long, as Takeshi discovers how much his sister has changed.
"The one thing that stays consistent with Reileen from the beginning of the show to the end of the show is her unequivocal and undeniable love for her brother," she says.
"She loves him so much it's almost creepy. She's extremely loyal and will do anything to protect her family."
As Dichen waits to hear if Altered Carbon will get a second season, she is grappling with her biggest job yet - motherhood.
"I'm currently working on is wrangling a two-and-a-half-year-old," she says.
"Because of my schedule I've had very little time with her, so right now I need to be at home for at least a month solid just to be there for her and nurture her. Being a mother has been this tremendous journey and I'm still figuring it out."
Altered Carbon is available to stream on Netflix now.