February 2022

Screened | Sosie Bacon

Getting Into Character With As We See It Star Sosie Bacon

Photos Martin Rusch  | Words Tamara Rappa

We talked to soulful Sosie Bacon about her latest and starring role in Amazon’s As We See It. Sosie's standout performance as Mandy in the Jason Katims-produced series is a roller coaster of emotion---in the best of ways. Bacon's character's path as a 20-something aide to three autistic roommates is wrought with responsibility, and poignantly juxtaposed with all the trial and error and figuring-out-of-life that the decade brings. Recently seen in critically acclaimed Mare Of Easttown, breaking out in 13 Reasons Why, appearing in popular Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, and starring opposite Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins in HBO and Alan Ball's Here And Now,  her work on As We See It firmly solidifies her status as one to seriously watch. We sat down with Sosie to discuss the series' one-of-a-kind production environment, the difficulty that playing a character so close to herself brings, and more.

When we meet your character, Mandy, she's already focused on her career path. She's an aide to three autistic young adults, but she's doing a little soul searching in terms of what might be next. And we learn that her boyfriend has a clear picture for what he feels is next for her, and also for them. How was Mandy's boyfriend explained to you, or characterized, in the script.
I interpreted him to be a bit controlling, to be honest. Your twenties are a time to figure it all out, and honestly, it's the worst fucking time ever. I would not want to be younger than I am now! Honestly, I want to be older. He's someone who's fronting like he's figured it out, but it's probably based on a lot of privilege. No judgment, obviously; I also have had a lot of privilege, as, me, Sosie, but his parents were very wealthy, he went to an Ivy league school, and he had a set path. Mandy didn't have a set path. I do think that young people, maybe this new generation, are more open. But they do have a lot of pressure to choose what they're going to do, to stick to what they're going to do, to grow and build, getting bigger and bigger in their chosen field.  The struggle for Mandy was about pushing against that narrative that had been set out for her.

Mandy interviews for an internship in another part of the state, and accepts the plan that her boyfriend has convinced her might be the right plan for her career in life. 
Which, by the way, is quite a gendered thing. At least for my generation, for sure, there's a lot of  'Well, I'll go along with it' in heterosexual relationships. I really related to Mandy because I've made so many decisions in my life where people have been like, 'Huh? what?' ...decisions that people didn't like. It's not easy, especially for a person like Mandy who is a person like me, highly empathetic and people-pleasing sometimes. It's very hard to go against the grain and have people not be supportive of what you do. At the same time, I think sometimes you've got to do just do it, man. And you can't stop. She spent so much time vacillating,

Over the course of the series, Mandy's boyfriend's plan for them includes her moving away, abandoning her job and the people she looks after. The notion of whether she's replaceable as Jack, Violet, Harrison's aide is floated out there. Is anyone like Mandy ever truly replaceable? Can the mark that Mandy has made on Jack, Violet, and Harrison's progress and development, can that be continued by anyone else? Can the positive effect and the growth brought about by Mandy be replicated? 
I believe so. For sure. There are a lot of people out there who are wonderful and special. I think there are many people like her. What is unfortunate, is the effect that the change in routine would likely have. I don't think she's irreplaceable in any way. That's making her almost too saintly. 

A big part of the story across the season, has to do with Mandy's emotional evolvement with the three people she assists, Jack and Violet and Harrison. Oftentimes people like healthcare workers and aides are advised not to grow close to those they work for. We fall in love with Mandy's compassion and her connectedness and her care; her presence in her work with these three roommates. Was this aspect of her personality discussed prior to filming, the fact that she does get emotionally attached to the people she's working for? 
It's interesting, I think that the cool thing about Jason [Katims] and everyone who worked on the show, is they spent so much time casting in order to find the perfect person, one they trusted to do the things they needed them to do. We didn't talk a lot about it.  I feel like prior discussion can sometimes take away from the personal work an actor does; sometimes it makes me feel like I'm not being trusted to do the job. They probably had me because of what I could bring to the role. 

Towards the end of the season, Mandy and Violet's brother share a kiss, and her crossing that line has particularly large impact. It has a big impact on Violet, but also Harrison. Blurring the lines between work life and personal life has particularly serious consequences in this story. Was what they did out of line?  Or were they entitled to do it, but should have been more discreet? 
I really like to not try to characterize things anymore...what's wrong or right. There are obviously things that are wrong, like murder. It was a choice, she needed to do it in the moment. You can't go back and say, 'That was wrong.' Mandy's reaction was interesting to me because she really let herself get beat up by everyone.  I'm older than my character Mandy, so I'm further along in my growth. She feels she's an awful person because of what she has done. Then she chooses to say, 'I'm going to leave'---also such a young, twenties-female thing to do. Let me just disappear into the floorboards, and that'll be better for everybody. Working through it more...trusting Harrison to get through it...going slow, is better than her throwing her hands up. Oftentimes women don't feel entitled to make mistakes, to take different paths. That's what showed up in the final episode: Mandy didn't feel entitled to make a mistake. It was definitely what what I was like, at that age.

At the end of the series we learn Mandy's going to stay. She's going to continue her work with Jack, Violet, and Harrison. What is it about Mandy's personality that makes her take the leap and stay true to what she's feeling?
Her plan to leave was a misstep. It was in an attempt to take full accountability for what she's done. But real accountability and communication as opposed to just disappearing, was the stronger choice for her to make, and one that she was totally capable of. I'm very glad that she did choose that path---for Jack, Violet, and Harrison, as much as for herself. And I don't think she stays out of guilt or obligation; she stays out of a desire to push through mistakes and the real-life theme that she  mentions repeatedly throughout the season: things being hard is normal. Getting fucked over by a guy, normal. That scene [with Violet] actually killed me because I get it. 

How was it difficult to play Mandy?
Interestingly enough, I think it's easier for me to play a character who is a total departure from me. For example, my role in Mare Of Easttown. Even in 13 Reasons Why...she was very tough, petulant, bossy. I'm much more like Mandy than anyone else I've ever played. You do need to bring some of yourself to every role. When people say they don't or that the role was truly transformative---that's almost impossible. I guess some people can do it. Being closer to Mandy in personality was more difficult than anything else.

Was there anything you learned the most in working on this, or something that you were surprised to learn?
A lot of things. I didn't know much. I even learned things afterwards.  Neurotypical people have all of these pleasantries and confusing, disorienting ways of speaking to one another. I learned a lot about that. I was doing an interview the other day, and Albert [Rutecki, who plays Harrison] said he was unemployed prior to getting the As We Like It job. It came off to me as a joke, and I felt bad about it. He said, 'that wasn't a joke'. It's very difficult for neurotypical people to tolerate discomfort in terms of social interactions. I felt bad, but it totally made me learn something about something else. I learned things on As We Like It all the time. Not just during shooting, but during the interviews afterwards, and when we got to hang out.

What else did you learn or discover, working on As We See It? I think it's interesting that this was the job that kept giving...
One thousand percent. There was no walking on eggshells because people were on the spectrum of autism or Asperger's.  It was a quieter, kinder set than I've ever been on. It was amazing how direct everyone was, and how no feelings were getting hurt. Sets can be very difficult. People get pushed to their absolute limits. Jason really tried to make absolutely sure that everyone hired, both the non-neurotypical and neurotypical, weren't. It was made sure that the days were shorter, the set was kept quiet, there wasn't loud banging, booming. I can't even tell egos. It was like heaven.

MAKEUP: Kara Yoshimoto Bua | A-Frame Agency

"I probably eat a ham and cheese croissant every morning. The one from Alfred's in LA is really good."

"I've been looking to buy or rescue a horse to have with me in LA to ride. I love horseback riding so much; it's very relaxing to me."

"I've gotten six piercings in the past two weeks, including a belly button, cartilage, and helix piercing. I'm over keeping my body so clean for Hollywood. I have a ton of tattoos under my clothes."

"Raven Leilani's Luster is a must-read and a new favorite of mine."

"Jimmy Chin and his wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, made this amazing documentary called The Rescue about the boys who got stuck in a cave in Thailand. You need to watch it."

"The one movie I've seen this year, The Worst Person in the World, was incredible. It's about how people are complicated and it captures the female perspective so well."