Actress plays a recent parolee who, along with her family, takes the identities of one that's recently deceased
In the 2004 movie The Phantom of the Opera Minnie Driver played the Diva opera singer. Today she can be seen starring in the new FX series The Riches with Eddie Izzard. In the show Driver plays Dahlia Malloy, a recent parolee who, along with her family, takes the identities of a recently deceased family and moves into their new suburban home in a private upscale community.
In her opening scene, Ms. Driver is released from prison sporting a different hair style than we've seen her wear - cornrows. "It was actually my idea to do that," she explains. "I had a dream about that particular season and my going to prison. And it told a story that I thought was quite interesting, somebody who clearly didn't grow up having their hair done that way, and when they leave prison, they are clearly someone else. It was really cool actually because it added a dimension that's not necessarily explained, which I always think is interesting in characters. It leaves you with a certain sense of something, but you're not quite sure what," says Driver who is hopeful the series will strike a chord in viewers.
At this point in her career, it might seem odd that the actress is starring in a TV series. Why did she decide to do this series now? "You define your career as an actor really by what you say no to, oddly. And I don't say yes very often. When I read this, it was just and away the best part I've ever been offered." She thinks for a moment then adds, "As a woman in film, -- there's maybe four actresses who get the really [good roles] -- they're mostly called Kate. And they are the most fabulous actors, and they get these wonderful roles. And I always wanted to do stuff like that. And that just didn't [work out] -- it came my way sometimes, but not consistently. When I read this role of Dahlia, I knew that this was someone who [could] become anything, could go anywhere, and that this was like a springboard into something completely unknown and spontaneous," she says with alacrity. "She's genuinely the greatest character I've played. She's constantly changing. And I'm so incredibly thrilled to be doing it because it's surprising. Very surprising for me, and I think it will be surprising for audiences because [Dahlia is] a full-grown swampy from Louisiana, crack addict. It's great," she chuckles. True, her character is a drug addict and living a lie, and that is what Driver hopes to get her teeth into as the character evolves into the life of her creation.
Driver, a native of London, has completely changed her voice and accent for this role. For someone with a foreign accent, playing an American might be a challenge, and playing a Southern American might be an even bigger challenge. But for Driver, it's all in the game. "It's a trick. It's music. I play music a lot. I play a couple of instruments. I think it's the same part of your brain. If you love accents -- I've always loved them. And I worked a couple days with a coach just to sort of lock it in, but we filmed in New Orleans, you know, and you listen and you can't help but -- I couldn't help but start speaking that way. It's slightly harder in L.A., and I'm the only -- I'm not the only one on the show, but I'm definitely doing a very country Louisiana accent, which I think is right for down there. A lot of this is about commitment. You just commit to it, and you pay attention."
We have all heard about "The American Dream." When asked why we never hear about the British dream, Driver only comments, "It's a nightmare, that's why." She is happy to be in this country and extols the virtues of America. "Even though there is a class system here, which no one talks about because there is... but here we are all -- it's not feudal. It is a level playing field." She continues, "And we are all in this together. And there was something so great about that. There's a spirit about that that is so wonderful. And from that, then came the dream of capitalism and everything that kind of ... It is -- we are all equal, except some are more equal than others."
The Riches airs Mondays at 10 PM ET/PT on FX.
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