Consequence’s 2023 TV Performer of the Year

With our 2023 Annual Report turning to the world of Hollywood, we’re naming Carla Gugino our TV Performer of the Year for her work on Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Check out our full Annual Report here for all the best in music, film, and television of the year.

Carla Gugino entirely changes the way I think about acting while describing a key scene in The Fall of the House of Usher. “Sometimes, when a character feels too much, the audience doesn’t have the ability to feel it themselves, because the character’s doing it for them,” Consequence’s TV Performer of the Year says. “If the actor gives you the release, it’s not that it’s not gratifying, but it doesn’t allow you to have your own process of emotion as an audience.”

It’s insight that comes after years of working in film, television, and theater. Her latest role in House of Usher is proving to be her most captivating to date; Gugino plays Verna, who serves as a metaphysical representation of the karmic justice being inflicted on the Usher family, a pharmaceutical dynasty that draws not-so-subtle comparisons to the Sacklers.

The Netflix horror series marks the latest collaboration between Gugino and writer/director Mike Flanagan, though the role is utterly unique. Gugino says that when Flanagan first pitched her on the idea, she said yes “before he finished the sentence.” He did promise, however, that unlike their past projects Gerald’s Game or The Haunting of Hill House, Gugino was “not going to be chained to a bed” or “haunted by a house and kill children.” “‘It’ll just be seven characters, and one of them will be an ape,’” she recalls Flanagan telling her.

Over the course of the series, Verna appears to the Usher clan in many forms, embodying seven different personas that range from a bold call girl to a terrified patient in need of heart surgery to, literally, a lab animal. “In a career that has spanned most of my life, I’ve never had the requirements that I had for this particular role, nor will I probably ever have again,” Gugino laughs.

The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix)

It was an acting challenge similar to those tackled by the likes of Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, although what made Verna such “an exciting and delicious challenge” was that each persona was the same character. “It was playing seven different incarnations of the same entity. It was important for me to never have this be some sort of master-of-disguises costume show,” Gugino says. “Rather, these are the ways in which these characters can receive Verna. And always we should feel this golden thread of Verna, so that if you really look deep enough, you’ll find her inside all of them.”

With a laugh, Gugino adds, “I didn’t have a lot of role models for that kind of exercise.”

Author: Michael

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