You may know her from such roles as Victoria on the hit series The Magician, Calliope on the running series Supernatural or most recently as the lovely Janine on the fantasy series Siren; whichever is the case, it’s pretty hard not to notice Hannah Leviens’ talent and hard work on every project she’s in. With a bright future ahead of her, the Australian star had a talk with CineAddiction and revealed her thoughts on Siren, UnREAL and much more.
CineAddiction: Thank you so much for doing this, to let us interview you! We are so excited to know that Siren got renewed and we would like to know if you think the show is bringing awareness to the existing issues regarding overfishing and overall destruction of marine life.
Hannah Levien: I think it’s definitely bringing awareness to it! I hope that on season 2 it is something we spend a little more time focusing on, and on season 1 there’s so much to be created, the characters and the world they live in, but I’m sure that the more we get into the show, you know, there will be 16 episodes on season 2, so the more we do that, the more we will be able to take a look on the issues there.
CineAddiction: What interested you to take the role on Siren?
Hannah: Well, you know, I’m a working actress, so I like to work [LAUGHS] but when it came to Siren I really liked the character Janine. She’s really fun and, you know, kinda different to me! [LAUGHS] I really liked the show too and I’m just really happy to be on it and be a part of it basically.
CineAddiction: Do you think your character will develop more next season?
Hannah: I don’t know yet what they’re planning for season 2. I’ve heard they have fun things in store and that’s what I’ve heard so far, but I believe we’ll be seeing Janine doing more stuff and get to know her a bit more.
CineAddiction: Regarding UnREAL, we know the show recently moved to another network. Do you think this is really the final season?
Hannah: Well, when I did my episode my understanding was that it was the final season, but it has such a big following, I mean, I wish it would be going on forever, because I think it is such a great show. Do you watch it?
CineAddiction: Yeah, I watch it and I watch Siren, and a lot of other TV shows. I’m really interested in UnREAL because I think it’s a very important show, but I would like to know your honest opinion about how we perceive reality shows. Is the show actually close to some kind of reality or do you think it is all fiction?
Hannah: Well, I’ve never worked on reality television, but I have a couple of friends who have and some are still working in production, and they love UnREAL and they find it very true to life in terms of what is like to work on a reality TV show set. It’s not really the same with a film set, you know, some of it is accurate in the sense of, you know, you have a film crew there, but when you are in a scripted TV series it’s definitely more professional on the set, so there’s a story to tell. I don’t believe that there is always that awfulness that we see in UnREAL. I’ve never had such an experience, but I believe some part of it may be true to what is happening on those sets.
CineAddiction: I’m hoping you’re a fantasy fan as well as me. Since you enroll in a lot of fantasy shows, are you a fan of the genre?
Hannah: I love fantasy series! I love Game of Thrones, I really enjoy The Magicians, thinking about what else I love that is sci-fi oriented… I really love sci-fi movies as well, and I’ve been in some sci-fi and supernatural TV shows with mystical stuff and then I do a show like UnREAL… [LAUGHS] But I’m an actor, like in the very sense of the word, I’m just taking the roles that work best for me. I’ve also been on Bates Motel…
CineAddiction: I know that! How was that experience? I was going to ask you about that!
Hannah: Oh, a really great experience! I’ve got to work with Freddie Highmore, who plays Norman Bates, and he is so fantastic in that show! And the show’s creators also put me in a couple of other different shows now, I worked on Reverie, which is a new pilot that comes out next week, and it looks really great! I haven’t seen it yet but I know some interviewers who have and they say it’s really great. The concept is really cool, it’s all about virtual reality…
CineAddiction: How was it to work with Sarah Shahi?
Hannah: She is absolutely fantastic! I met some producers of Reverie and worked with them in Bates Motel, and with my director in Bates Motel I’ve worked on Colony as well. It’s interesting that you work with the same people on different material.
CineAddiction: You all become a little family on set I’m sure. Returning to Siren, what can we expect from the season finale this week?
Hannah: I’m actually getting into a plane tonight to be there tomorrow. Yeah, I think it’s a very interesting finale, last week’s episode ended with such a big cliffhanger and I guess we are going to find out about Donna and if they can help save her. I think we can be expecting some surprises.
CineAddiction: And maybe to throw some lose ends to season 2?
Hannah: There’s definitely a couple of lose ends and there’s some things left out in the open for season 2. They will leave us guessing for 9 months until next season comes out. I just hope people will spread the word about it and stream it more and watch all the episodes.
CineAddiction: How about Supernatural? Please tell me! I’m a huge fan of Jared and Jensen and you were in a very special episode, the 200th, Fan Fiction, and how was that? I mean, how did you end up being on this long running show?
Hannah: Well, I think because it is running so long they need different actors already and, you know, when it comes to a specific world and you haven’t been in this show already, you get more of a chance to be cast! It has been running for 13 years now and that definitely worked in my favor and yeah I was so happy that I booked that role, because I really liked that character. She was so much fun and I got so many good lines and such a great monologue.
CineAddiction: Would you like to return?
Hannah: Yeah! Of course! I think it’s a great show! And since they have brought some old roles back, I don’t know, never saying never! But I’m definitely a fan of the show! I think they kept it going for so long and those two (Jensen and Jared) they are fantastic guys! You couldn’t ask for more carismatic and lovely people to be working with.
CineAddiction: What about your film career? We know that you’ve directed a short film and I would like to know if you have something booked for the next couple of years. Are you still active on films?
Hannah: Well, I went to film school and after university I started acting, directing and writing, and it was always my dream I would use that at some point. But it has been really busy acting, so the filmmaking side of things definitely took a bit of a second place, but just in the past year I have been focusing on making my own films and there is a short film right now. I guess it’s just a concept or an idea that filmmakers are working on and there is actually a couple of people of The Magicians involved in it, which is really cool and we are almost finishing that and we will put it on the festival circuit and maybe try to develop it. It’s a bit of a fantasy idea as well. Why do you think Portugal is so interested in shows like Siren and The Magicians? Because I know that Olivia Taylor-Dudley from The Magicians, went over there recently and it looks like the show is so popular there.
CineAddiction: Yeah, I don’t know really. Portuguese people are really into fantasy, at least when I talk Siren with all my friends, I think Portugal is a place that is always driven by imagination. It’s quite beautiful to find out that Portugal is a country that never sticks with its own reality and always tries to find itself living in other worlds. I would love to live on Middle Earth or Hogwarts… that is a really tough question! [LAUGHS]
Hannah: Yeah, I know! I mean in Australia we don’t have that following on The Magicians… I mean all the fantasy shows that I’m in are just not that appealing to the Australian people. They have UnREAL there, which they love, but most of my shows don’t air in Australia, which is crazy! I mean they love Game of Thrones, but everyone likes Game of Thrones! I guess it’s interesting isn’t it? Because I know that Brazil also loves fantasy TV shows.
CineAddiction: Do you think that Siren will keep its diversity on track? I mean, the cast is diverse and it shows that Siren can touch people around the world by embracing that diversity. Was that something that attracted you to be on the show?
Hannah: I didn’t know at first that Siren would be ethnically diverse. I was cast on episode 2 and I didn’t watch the pilot back then but there was a trailer. When I got the role, I got to see how strong the show wanted to be on that matter and how they wanted to make an impact and I think it’s fantastic!
CineAddiction: What is your take on female directors being a small percentage on the industry? Since you are a director yourself, how would you encourage women to enroll in filmmaking and television as a career?
Hannah: That is a great question! I definitely am a huge advocate of women writing and directing and having a larger footprint in the industry and I think because we have been so indoctrinated by stories written and directed by men it’s actually quite a challenge to start forging our own path but the only way to do that is to start, you know what I mean? So, I’m definitely very encouraging of all my female friends in making films and I definitely feel the same way with their support in return. I’ve been very fortunate to be on The Magicians and on Siren and there worked quite a few female writers so that was an awesome plus! There are also executive producers who are women as well and I’ve always felt that there was a good representation of women on set of those shows. Having two female directors in an entire season of ten or fifteen episodes it’s not ideal obviously, because it would be great to have more than that, but the networks are really trying to get more women involved. The short film I made, the director is Shannon Kohli, who directed some episodes of The Magicians last season, and she is amazing in what she does. I know that the industry is trying to foster new oportunities for women and that is fantastic!
CineAddiction: Would you like to direct an episode of Siren?
Hannah: I don’t know about mixing it next season, but I would definitely love to potentially move to directing at some point. You know, it’s different to direct something in Australia than in America because in America there is much more money involved but it is totally something to work towards.
CineAddiction: Thank you so much Hannah for this interview and we are hoping that you come to Portugal and we could celebrate your work together, since now we are curious about your new short film! Please try and send us a copy!
Hannah: I will definitely try! Thank you so much!
The CineAddiction team would like to thank for the effort and sympathy of not only Hannah Levien, but also her agent Erica.
Interview conducted by Jorge Lestre.