The Clearing Stars discuss cults and characters in the new Hulu series
“People can be cruel and kind at the same time. You will learn that.” The hauntingly poignant piece of advice is a quote from Amy to Asha — from one abducted child to another — in The Gladean eight-part psychological thriller based on the best-selling crime thriller In the clearing by author JP Pomare. The timely survival advice also serves as a helpful disclaimer for viewers to digest the twists and complexities in the intriguing, terrifying and downright disturbing Australian cult series. Inspired by real events, The Glade is sure to be a hit with fans of well-written dramas in the vein of The story of the maid And aka Grace.
Filmed in an intriguing and sometimes mysterious, but effective non-linear way, The Glade is an emotional ride and psychological journey led by a woman who simultaneously confronts the demons of her past while fighting to stop the cult’s ongoing kidnapping of innocent children. When will the nightmares of the past (and the future) End? How do past and future intersect? At the end of the first episode there is a shocking realization.
stars of the series, Teresa Palmer (discovery of the witches) And Miranda Otto (The Unusual Suspects) caught up with MovieWeb in an exclusive interview to discuss what made them want to be a part of this dark and challenging series, and why it’s worth watching.
How Miranda Otto got the role
Otto explained why she was committed to portraying Adrienne, the icy leader of a cult in which children are kidnapped from their loving homes and under her influence (largely) become unyielding, dutiful and loyal. They even like to call her “mother”.
“Cults have always fascinated me,” said Otto. “My aunt actually went to the Rajneesh when I was a kid and I’ve read a number of books about that experience and seen a lot of it.” Documentaries about cults […] So I sort of went from that angle and tried to create this character, but there was a lot on the side.”
While the Rajneesh were a world-renowned religious cult known for sexual liberation, immigration fraud, recruitment of the homeless, and a historic bioterrorist attack against the US, The Glade examines the kidnapping of children and their upbringing to worship and submission to Otto’s character Adrienne.
Otto praised the authors for making their preparation quite easy. “I have to say the script was really tight and cleverly written, so there was a lot to draw from.” And in reference to how her character’s impeccable sense of style brought the role to life, she remarked, “The whole thing The hair, makeup and wardrobe thing was a big part of that too.”
Adrienne, who has placed herself on a pedestal for cult members to bow to, is feared. “That’s actually her armour,” Otto explained. “Her impenetrable brand of couture, hair and everything is a big part of how she puts herself there for everyone to admire.” Or at least seemingly. Underneath the mask of worship is clearly an unshakable fear.
Teresa Palmer speaks about cults
Palmer’s character Freya, on the other hand, is one of Adrienne’s victims. She explained how she felt connected to the role:
I’m a big fan of all true crime, including cults, so I’ve watched all the documentaries and listened to all the podcasts […] So I did a lot of deep diving exercises that I had been doing for years because I was just interested in it anyway.
Those most vulnerable to cult victimization are those with low self-esteem. This is what makes Palmer’s character, Freya, so compelling. Despite Freya’s vulnerability, there is a palpable core of fire rooted deep within her. From the very first episode we know she’s going to fight and we automatically cheer for her victory.
what about the kids
Stockholm Syndrome occurs when an abductee forms a psychological bond with their abductor in some way. It’s weird and illogical, and it’s also exactly what – no spoilers – happens to a character in The Glade“Even the children we watch carefully for are protective of their leader, Adrienne.
“I’ve read some journals of people who grew up in cults, particularly because being a kid in a cult is different,” Palmer said, “because it’s all you know.” You don’t have the perspective a normal childhood and then you got into a cult. You are so young in this cult.”
It’s hard to imagine a child protecting someone who literally took them from their family. And yet, apart from Asha (Sara), incredibly portrayed by Lily LaTorre, they do. It’s scary yet exciting to watch.
Palmer said she delved deeply into the basic structure of this fascinating victim mentality:
“I wanted to specifically delve into the psychology of a broken bond. So I delved into attachment theory, examining what is a secure attachment to a child who has a wonderful, loving caregiver, and then what is the theory of anxious-avoidable attachment, to someone you don’t love . You have no ties to a caretaker. So that’s very specific in how that manifests in adulthood. I just took all of that information and picked what worked for that character and then left what didn’t work.
Get out of the clearing
Faced with such weighty subject matter in such a grim world, how did the actors manage to break away from the characters and return to their real lives?
Otto laughed at the fact that she ditched her role as a cult leader on the set. “Well, first you take off the make-up and the costume and change the hairdo […] There was a part of becoming Adrienne every day that was really stuck in that trailer every morning. The only thing I couldn’t get rid of at the end of the day were these long nails, which I never had in real life.
When she returned to Los Angeles and was finally able to remove her long nails, Otto says she felt like she had finally freed herself completely from the grip of her extremely intense character. Palmer, on the other hand, had to discard the character in order to function:
I didn’t have a choice because I have so many kids that at the end of the day at work I would go home and just be a bubbly mom making dinner and we read books before bed. For me, those were the tools that allowed me to shed my character and just step into a sunny, happy headspace as a mom.
Otto agreed with Palmer: “Life is awesome, isn’t it? In a way, the more that happens, the easier it is to let the characters go.”
Palmer noticed the ends of the parallel worlds. “I had to giggle at how absurd that was,” she said. “For most of the scenes I was at work, in character, sobbing, crying, screaming and then coming home to my kids like a happy mother saying ‘Hello, me.’ I’m at home…'”
Otto noted that she felt this series was also restorative in a way. “I think it’s redeeming. It’s a story that shows you can escape your past. You can rebuild your life.”