One of Amazon Prime Video’s hottest new series is “The Wilds”, in which a group of young women become stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash and are forced to fend for themselves.
What soon emerges, however, is that things are not what they appear (warning: SPOILERS lie ahead, so proceed accordingly).
In fact, what the girls don’t realize is the crash was orchestrated and they’re actually the unwitting subjects in a bizarre social experiment run by the mysterious Gretchen (Rachel Griffiths of Six Feet Under).
At the centre of this twisted conspiracy is a girl named Jeanette, who is eventually revealed to be someone else entirely: Linh Bach, a doctoral student working with Gretchen as an undercover agent of sorts.
Playing both Jeanette/Linh is Australian actress Chi Nguyen, who spoke with ET Canada about her game-changing role in the series.
“It was a really fun opportunity to play both versions of one person,” says Nguyen, admitting it was also “a great challenge. I do a lot of research for the character, and I had two different pages for them, creating different backstories. Obviously Linh would have a very different background than Jeanette. That was a fun challenge from an acting perspective.”
When she auditioned for the role of Jeanette, Nguyen says she thought she’d be playing the “happy-go-lucky, bubbly” character introduced in the pilot. It wasn’t until midway through filming the first season that she discovered the jaw-dropping twist revealing Jeanette was really Linh.
“When I was playing Jeanette in the pilot, that was the only version of the character that I knew of,” she explains.
Given the show’s story structure, with characters’ backstories revealed in flashbacks, one of these features Jeanette — after the audience already knows she’s secretly Linh.
Playing that scene, Nguyen admits, required some finesse.
“Do I try to recreate what I did in the pilot back in 2018, or do I now become Linh playing Jeanette?” she says. “It was really important to have the right understanding of where you are. Because I play Jeanette, then I play Linh, and then I kind of play that middle version where I’m becoming Linh as well.”
So is it fair to say the role turned out to be far juicier than she originally knew? “Oh my God, yes!” she exclaims. “I love how it turned out.”
According to Nguyen, she had a bit of a panicked moment when the series writer called to reveal the shocking twist in her character’s story arc. “She was like, ‘Are you sitting down? Are you ready? And I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m getting fired.’ But then she’s like, ‘No, no, no.’”
In fact, when Nguyen was first introduced to Linh in the script, she was blown away by the prospect of playing what is essentially a whole new character. “I remember reading the script, I was just so taken away by Linh’s charisma, beautiful, power, courage, fire. Such a contrast from the happy, young Jeanette… this is like a gift.”
As viewers of the first season will recall, Linh/Jeannette makes a fatal exit. With the show renewed for a second season, and given the heavy use of flashbacks, is it possible that’s not the last we’ve seen of the character?
“Oh gosh, that would be great,” says Nguyen. “You know, I can’t say much without getting into trouble, but I’m sure there will be a lot more plot twists.”
“The Wilds” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.