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February 26, 2019

A True Family

In Fox's The Gifted, Emma Dumont and company look for family ties in unusual places.

Matt Powell
  • Fox
  • Fox
  • Fox
  • Fox
  • Fox

Emma Dumont brings a humanity to her portrayals of women anti-superheroes.

She currently stars as Polaris/Lorna Dane on the Marvel Comics' X-Men series spinoff Fox drama The Gifted, which concludes its second season February 26. Dumont will also star in the title role in the upcoming feature Razor, directed by Rob Cohen and based on the comic book series by Everette Hartsoe.

She can also be seen starring opposite Rumer Willis in the upcoming Lago Pictures release What Lies Ahead. Dumont's past credits include NBC's Aquarius and ABC Family's Bunheads.

Her portrayal of the bipolar, single mother mutant Polaris has garnered attention from fans and critics alike.

The X-Men, like many comics, can be seen as an allegory for marginalized people, from teen angst and the developing generation gap of the 1960s, through Civil Rights and LGBTQ issues. Do you feel The Gifted is conscious of this tradition?

Something that our show carried on from the original comics was that it does represent minority or marginalized groups. Another thing our show does is tackle political problems like societal intolerance, and the idea that even if you are an outcast you will always find your true family, even if it's not the one you were born into, which is really what the X-Men were all about.

How does The Gifted approach this from a modern day perspective?

Our show is basically about refugees, about people seeking solace away from their homes and being hunted by government agencies. I'm grateful that we can throw a mirror up to people in their living rooms every week and show the injustices that are going on in the world, through an X-Men and superhero lens.

One aspect of the show is the pitting against each other of family and friends who otherwise would be on the same team, but because of political differences have become estranged.

That definitely was intentional. Another theme of this season was the media and how that plays into people's thoughts and opinions and how much that affects, and even alters, what people believe. [The fictional cable news reporter in the show] is basically a propaganda pusher, and definitely has a mutant-hating agenda. And that character is based on real people.

You mentioned the idea of finding your true family, even if it isn't the one you are born into. How does Polaris/Lorna reconcile her family legacy with the life she wants to live, and with her new obligations and motivations as a mother?

It's hard for Polaris because she doesn't want to be associated with anyone. We see her trying to get away from her family legacy. She grew up in a time when someone like her father, [X-Men villain] Magneto, was more of an activist than anything. She was taught that he was a criminal and a villian.

She wants to escape that, but in her heart she knows that the things her father believed in were true. Polaris and her father have the same moral compass: mutants should not be harmed, and anyone that supports that is a terrible person. For her it's a weird line of not wanting to be seen as a villain, but also wanting to do what's right. So we see her in Season 2 eventually accept her family legacy.

And on the flip side of that she's also abandoning her newfound family, the Mutant Underground. She can't stand their passive attitude. You know, we're in a time now in society where it's not enough to not be a bigot; it's about taking action. That sort of parallels what Polaris feels, where it's not enough to not hate mutants.

How does Polaris/Lorna's pregnancy inform her actions and beliefs?

Lorna has a time crunch, she has nine months. For her it's higher stakes, there's an hourglass running the time down. Who wants to birth a child that will not only be hated because of what they're born with, but will be treated differently because of this?

So in a way, she's trying to get away from both her families. The pregnancy didn't change her views or what she believes in, but it changed the stakes.

How did you approach playing a character with mental illness?

Lorna's mental illness is in a way so important to who she is, and yet is also not important at all. She has green hair, she's tall, she's pale, she has bipolar disorder. It's just another characteristic.

Her core beliefs and her actions would be the same even if she did not have mental illness. But at the same time, for me as an actor, it was very important. A lot of research went into this, because I didn't know much about the topic beforehand, so I wanted to make sure that I really knew what that was about.

How has Polaris/Lorna developed into Season 2?

She's a lot calmer, a lot more depressive. She's very low energy and she's not the Lorna we've come to know, the badass who would fight anyone.

I'm not going to lie, it was really difficult coming into Season 2 because I didn't understand why they wanted her to change so much. But to be fair, it is very rare when an actor gets to portray two opposite sides to one character and I am very lucky for that challenge.

And I realized that even though it didn't really serve Lorna Dane, it served the rest of the characters, and because we are such an ensemble cast, she needed to take a step down so that other people could have their journeys and story lines. I grew up in theater, and it's about making everyone look good.

You're playing a different kind of superhero in the Razor film.

Razor is something I am so excited about; this character is like someone I have never played before. She is a superhero but she's not super. She has no gifts or abilities, so for me it's really cool to play that.

How did you prepare for the role of Razor?

I'm going to be doing all my own stunts. The director, Rob Cohen, said he basically wants me to be able to fight for my own life for real. So I'm learning Krav Maga and I'm in the gym three-four hours per day. It's very physically demanding and I'm going to learn a lot of great new skills.

As far as the character goes, I think this character is so important right now because she has a very human view of things. She escapes from a mental institution when she is 18 or 19. She doesn't have the influences of the judiciary system, or law enforcement, or rules, or even societal pressures or expectations.

So when she sees someone doing something wrong, she doesn't see it as a felony or misdemeanor, she just sees wrong. If you're a bad guy she'll just kill you so you don't hurt any more people. She doesn't know checks or balances. She's an antihero.

How is Razor a role model for young women?

She's almost childlike, but at the same time she's a strong badass woman and she ends up leading a group of renegade vigilante all women fighters, rough chicks who are fighting for their lives. I think that's what people, and especially young girls, need to see right now.

Another thing I love about the script is that there is a love story, but that's not the predominant arc of this character. So many 18-19 year old women characters are in rom-coms. You never see really badass young women in that age range.

For a female action character, it's great to play someone that has so many conflicting ideas and at the same time such strong beliefs, and she does things that maybe you don't agree with in real life. She does right by doing wrong. She thinks that is what is necessary to preserve society, and I think that's noble.


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