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INTERVIEW: The Gifted’s Dumont Previews Polaris’ Past & Future

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
INTERVIEW: The Gifted’s Dumont Previews Polaris’ Past & Future

The Gifted‘s Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, has a lot on her plate. After learning she was pregnant during her incarceration at Sentinel Services, she returned to the Mutant Underground with a vengeance, meeting one new challenge after another. Now, a startling new truth has come to life: Sentinel Services is working with a dangerous new group that is torturing and enslaving mutants. In “outfoX,” the next episode, she will take place in a dangerous new mission to free those mutants.

Speaking to CBR, Polaris actor Emma Dumont had a lot to say about her character’s future — and past. She teased her role in the upcoming mission to storm Sentinel Services, how her relationship with Marcos progresses and her reaction to Lauren and Andy’s new power set, while also previewing some revelations about her past. She also discussed Lorna’s relationship with her estranged father Magneto, her bipolar disorder, her pregnancy and what she would like to see in a second season.

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CBR: So it looks like the Underground is storming Sentinel Services. What does Lorna’s role in that look like?

Dumont: Oh, Lorna’s role in storming Sentinel Services… Well, you know, at this point, they’re facing not just one, but two potential enemies: Sentinel Services — which old news, we already know they hate us — and then there’s potentially this new sort of group. There’s somebody or something that’s drugging mutants and abusing them, which I think — for Lorna specifically — she can handle (not really handle)… but she can accept (well, not really accept)… I guess she will put up with Sentinel Services hunting mutants, hunting children mutants, killing them all. That makes her mad and that makes her want to hurt people, but now there’s actually another group of people who are abusing mutants. They’re not just killing them or putting them in jail. They’re actually torturing them and using them as weapons against potentially other mutants. So whatever that is, or those people, she’s going to hunt them down. Sentinel Services she can handle. They have technology; they have whatever else. They’ll always be the Big Bad, the bigger problem, but now there’s something else out there that she needs to find and figure out. So I think that’s more the monster she wants to fight in this upcoming episode.

How does this mission change the way she views the threat of Sentinel Services?

Sentinel Services has always been her main target. All her hatefulness is set towards them. But it makes her even more mad that someone would torture mutants this way. It’s disgusting! I mean, it’s the difference between minorities being persecuted this current day. There’s hate crimes, there’s whatever else, they’re treated horribly… Let’s say that’s Sentinel Services, and I’m going to say like straight up slavery is what these new people are doing. They are abusing, they are torturing, they are capturing mutants and using them for their benefit, so I’m going to say the Sentinel Services to Lorna is like current day political problems, and this new group is much, much worse. It’s something far, far more terrifying she wants to figure out and shut down.

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Lorna and Marcos just patched things up. What does their relationship look like moving forward?

Marcos and Lorna… [sighs] They’ve patched things up for now, and the only reason they patched this up is because they realized how fragile life is. You know, they’re bringing a mutant into the world, a mutant that — the day it’s born — will be hunted down by Sentinel Services or this other group or some other group. I mean, there are countless groups of people trying to hurt/torture/persecute/kill mutants, and the death of Chloe is the only thing that made them realize that life is too short to argue, but that didn’t really change anything at all. No bad guys have been stopped. Marcos and Lorna still have very polar opposite political views of the world. I like to say that Marcos is someone who wants as many lives saved as possible, even for evil, evil people. He wants everyone to live. He doesn’t believe in hurting people, but Lorna sort of thought whether this is right or wrong she believes is one evil life worth the lives of many, many innocents?

I think she has a point there. I’m not saying I’m going to go out and kill bad people, but if you saw a Nazi in the street hurting a minority, would you stand there and watch or Tweet about it? Or would you step in and do something? Lorna would step in! Immediately! No questions asked. It doesn’t matter who it is or what it is. If someone with power is hurting an innocent person, she’s going to step in and do something. It’s that black and white for her. There’s no middle ground.

Those differing views really are still there. That’s still the underlying heat and tension within their relationship, and unfortunately, because this isn’t like work — they’re not going to an office and doing work, this is part of their lives — they don’t have the luxury of separating personal and “professional.” When they go to sleep at night in their bed, it’s not at home; it’s at the Mutant Underground with the refugees, so it affects everything and having this baby… it heightens the stakes so much, and Marcos’ deal is like, “It’s getting better. It will get better, Lorna. Don’t you understand? We’re trying! Think about how it was like 50 years ago!” Again, like slavery verses hate crimes now. Still bad! Marcos is someone who’s like, “I accept the small, good change we have made” and Lorna refuses to accept it at all. She’s like, “It’s all change or nothing.” We either make it better, or we don’t. That’s all.

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How has the incident with Chloe, a mutant mother, impacted the way Lorna sees her own pregnancy?

The main moment when Lorna realized — I mean, Lorna has already had her views. She needs to change the world her kid is going to be born into. She already knew that. She knew she had to fight Sentinel Services (the SS, as I call them). But now, when Sage came to her and said that Chloe had a kid that they refused to treat… I mean that just is so heartbreaking. When we think of the enemy, we think of Jace [Turner] and his suit with his Sentinels and his guns and whatever else, or we think of big, bad anti-mutant causes and whatever else, but the truth is that prejudice lies in every single person in the mutant world, in The Gifted world, in that time and place. It’s just like prejudice and bigotry is in these people. That’s hard to change! And that goes for the real world too. When someone is raised and it’s engraved into them, bigotry and prejuice and that some lives are worth less than others, you can’t change that. That is so hard to change. And the fact that a doctor wouldn’t save the life of a child, mutant or not? That’s heartbreaking. So that kind of made her realize that the stakes are that much higher.

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Lauren and Andy are about to take a giant step forward with their powers. What can you tease about Lorna’s reaction to that?

Lorna’s not surprised. Lorna knows. Lorna’s known — I mean, she didn’t know about their ancestry, obviously, or about their dad — but she’s known since she saw them, especially Andy. I feel we don’t see it a lot, but Lorna really connects with Andy because she has been so tortured at such a young age and she went through so much up until she was his age. So I think she just gets him, which she knew. She told Caitlin, “Caitlin, your kids are different. They are special. We don’t see this.”

I think it’s kind of interesting that she’s saying that, because Lorna’s been told her whole life that she’s special. Like, “Lorna, don’t you know who your dad is? Don’t you know what you have? You’re special. The X-Men chose you.” Lorna’s been fighting that her whole life. She’s like, “Nobody chose me. I don’t want to be special. I don’t want to be a role model. I want to help people, but just stay away from me. I’m not anything special.” But she doesn’t hesitate to tell these kids are special at all, which is just so funny to me.

But she’s not surprised in the least bit. When you have something that powerful and that special, you want to make sure they stay on the right side of things, which is what I think Marcos and the rest of the Mutant Underground struggled with with Lorna. They know she’s special and she’s a fighter, so they want to keep her on the right side. Lorna wants to keep Andy and Lauren on the right side.

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When will we learn more about her upbringing and her history?

I feel like every episode, more and more is revealed. I’ve said many times Lorna knows who her dad is. She doesn’t accept it. She hates him. She hates the fact this man who is exactly like her in every way, down to their mutant abilities, refuses to be in her life but expects her to somehow continue his path. She hates the way that people view him. People in her life have been saying, “Oh, you’re the daughter of this bad mutant. He was evil and he would hurt humans and he stood up for what he believed in, but at what cost?” So she’s kind of figuring out like, “Am I bad? This guy has nothing to do with me!”

I will say, in the finale, we find out more specifics about her past and the flashback in the finale is Lorna from five or six years ago. There’s lots of parts and pieces to this. We know Lorna’s had her powers for a while, our Lorna. I don’t know how long that is. In the comics, in the original mythology, her powers manifested when she was seven. She tragically killed both her parents, or who she thought was both her parents, and then Magneto saved her, but then still ran away and disappeared and refused to be in her life. So it’s weird to have this man — we this in the finale — this guy, he makes small gestures to her and hints to her and kind of expects her to be like him, but then refuses to even come near her, so it’s just heartbreaking. So we do explore that more.

You mentioned at NYCC that the show is dealing with her bipolar disorder. Will we see that issue get tackled head on in any upcoming episodes?

Yes, we do. Actually, a big — I don’t want to say problem, but it’s a big point for Lorna and Marcos coming up. Marcos is the only person Lorna will let talk to her about her mental illness, I feel like because it’s nobody else’s business. So Lorna, coming up, maybe because of her pregnancy, maybe because of things she’s hearing about her father, maybe for other reasons, she starts to change. Her powers change. Her thoughts change. She starts to feel great. So far, we’ve been seeing her sad, heartbroken, depressed, angry, manic — everything. In the later episodes, we see her become actually so happy and so sure of herself, more than ever before even though she always seems sure of herself. So that, to Marcos, kind of signals, “Is she having a manic episode? Is this real, or is this the chemicals in her brain changing her thought patterns?” It’s hard for him to accept that she is not having a manic episode, and she insists, “This isn’t my mental illness, Marcos. This is who I am.” It’s hard because Marcos is not a doctor, and neither is Lorna, but he has to trust what she says and so it may sort of deal with that for the rest of the season and it becomes sort of an issue. Not an issue, but a thing they have to work through.

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Should the show get a second season, what about Lorna would you like to explore?

I mean, obviously the pregnancy. [laughs] That’s a big deal. She’s been pregnant this whole time. Like, what about that? Did they have the kid? Is it a boy? Is it a girl? What’s going to happen? In the later episodes, we see that the baby starts to affect Lorna’s powers. I’d like to say she has a second manifestation of her powers. But is that permanent, or is it just using the baby’s? Normally, mutant children aren’t born with their powers already there, so that’s like a very strange thing that it’s already affecting her pregnancy. I don’t think that’s ever been seen, a mutant that was just born with their powers — and in some cases, like Reed, they never get them.

So yeah, I really want to explore the baby in Season 2, and obviously more of her ancestry. I would love to have her dealing with that more. She deals with it a lot this season, but even more so next season would be great. I’d love to see a flashback of when her powers first manifested. I’d love to figure out if we’re sticking to the original mythology or if we’re having our own version, but any of that stuff would be cool.

What does it mean to you to bring such a complex female character to life, especially in today’s climate?

It means everything to me. Look: I’m a silly white girl in a world full of white privilege, so I can’t even begin to understand what it’s like to be a black minority, but to be a woman, a soon-to-be mother, a minority and someone suffering from mental illness is phenomenal. I think it’s something that young people need to see on their TV every week in their living room. I think it’s great. I’m not going to say in spite of all those things, because those are what make her who she is, but because of those things she can still be a hero. She’s a hero no matter what. I think that’s fantastic, and I think that goes for everyone.You know, Thunderbird, he fought in the military; does he have PTSD? We don’t know. He has a dark path. They all have a dark path. Blink and her family issues and what she’s seen and what she’s been through is very dark. How does that make up who she is? Is that enabling her to also be a hero? Marcos and his horrible past with the cartel, being abandoned on the streets as a kid… these are all tragic things, but because of these things — I don’t know if it’s because of them or they’re just part of who they are — these people are able to be heroes. I think, for Lorna especially, she kind of got the worst of it in her growing up and genetically and so on. I think it’s just important. Lorna is important for anyone who feels isolated or like they have a hard time letting people in — something as simple as that! — or they have mental illness and they think they’re the only one or their a minority. I mean, again, I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority, but every day I try my hardest to grasp that, grasp the depth of that. She’s just phenomenal. I think she’s great. I really look up to her, which is so strange, because she’s a fictional character. [laughs] But she’s great! I think she’s fantastic.

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If Polaris could work with any other mutant character from the comics, movies or TV, who would you like it to be?

Magneto! Of course! I know that’s such a lame answer, but Magneto, for sure. They have the exact same power. It would be so cute to see a daddy-daughter mutant crime fighting spree! That’d be amazing. That would be so cute! It would be adorable. Also, I feel like I’m really close with my mom — my mother and I are best friends. We’re exactly the same. We dress the same, it’s so weird; we say the same things at the same time. It’s the weirdest thing in the world. People think we’re twins. It’s crazy. So I think it would be really cute and nice if Polaris had that. I always say mom and I are side-by-side… so it’d be cute is Polaris had a side-by-side, someone that was so similar to her that she could look up to that she’s never had before.

Airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Eclipse/Marcos Diaz, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane, Blair Redford as Thunderbird/John Proudstar, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker, and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.

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