The Girlfriend Experience is back for a brand new season, and this year viewers will be introduced to totally new characters and storylines. With co-creators Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz yet again at the helm, this season boasts dual narratives. Two different, parallel storylines taking place in two very different geographical locations. We had the chance to chat with stars Louisa Krause and Carmen Ejogo about the characters they’re bringing to life this season, in this critically acclaimed STARZ® anthology series. Read our interview below, and be sure to catch up on brand new episodes of The Girlfriend Experience, Sundays at 9/8c on STARZ®.
This season is a departure from Season 1, featuring different characters and narratives. Can you tell us about your characters, and a bit about the tone of Season 2?
Louisa Krause: What’s so great about this season, is that there are two separate productions of The Girlfriend Experience, so viewers will eventually be able to do two binges for the price of one! I play Anna Garner, a girlfriend experience provider at the top of my game, and my storyline takes place in Washington, D.C. I’m hired by a finance director of a Republican Super PAC played by Anna Friel. She hires me to blackmail one of my clients, and I end up falling in love for the first time… with her.
Carmen Ejogo: I play Bria Jones—well that’s the name that she gives when we first meet her. We discover that it’s a pseudonym, because she’s in a witness protection program. She’s been at the top of her game as an escort, but she’s found herself in a really unhealthy and very dangerous relationship that she has to get out of. It seems that relocating is the best answer, but she soon discovers that there is a real pull to reconnect with old ties and her old world of escorting. She’s mostly drawn back in for the material aspects of the job, but there are other reasons too. There’s an inner conflict as to what she should do next, and that’s where we meet her.
How did you two become involved in the project? Were you fans of Season 1?
CE: I started having a conversation with Carmen Cuba, who cast the first season, long before the first season came out. She had a feeling that I’d be a good fit for the show, if it was to go forward. Once it was established that there would indeed be a second season, I started a conversation with co-creator Amy Seimetz. We started with no storyline in mind, but with me in place.
We’d had this really unique opportunity to work together on another film, Alien: Covenant, and we spent time in Australia getting to know each other and brainstorming ideas for The Girlfriend Experience. She got to know me very well—she got a sense of what I was into, what my sensibility was, and she also knew my work, so she knew what my tastes tended to be. It started from there in terms of developing storyline, so in some ways she tailored it to me. It was a very tight collaboration from the start.
LK: I received five pages of a scene from the second season, and right off the bat I saw a complex, strong individual. When I realized I would be directed by Lodge Kerrigan, I thought this is somebody I need to work with! After watching the first season, which was so provocative, fearless, and bold, I knew I had to be a part of it. I knew it would be like winning the lottery! And it is, I’m so excited!
So speaking a little bit about your process as actors—do you appreciate the fact that this is an anthology series, and that there is a clear beginning, middle, and end? Does having that clear direction, and being bracketed by a beginning and an end help your process as an actor?
LK: It’s a complete luxury! I received the seven episodes, and was really able to prepare. I love being able to really prepare, especially when it’s such a quick shoot! As an actor, you have to be able to orient yourself, because sometimes you’re shooting three different episodes in one day. You need to be able to do the work that you need to do to be ready for that—mentally, physically—ready for that ride.
CE: Yes absolutely! Oddly, I had the luxury of working with Riley (Keough) [Edit note: who starred in Season 1] on a movie before working on this project, so I had the chance to chat with her about her experience working on the show. We both come from film, so honestly that’s what we’re used to! She knew going into the first season that it was always going to be just that one season, so as a result she wasn’t distracted by where the story or her character could go. When it’s concretely set on the page, there’s a very clear arc, and you’re working with directors who come from film who are really excited to be working in TV, the results are amazing!
Are there any stereotypes or misconceptions that you’re hoping that some of the narratives this season could potentially squash?
LK: I think what’s so wonderful about the show is that it’s a non-judgemental look into the world of the girlfriend experience, and each of these characters have ownership of their sexuality. They’re comfortable in who they are, and the exhilarating thing for me to play with as an actress is to portray this confident, professional at the top of my game, who enters into new emotional territory and allows herself to fall in love for the first time. That was really an adrenaline rush. I really admire the way that this story is told, and I feel like it is relatable, no matter who you are—there’s a lot to relate to.
CE: I think what’s really great about the show, is that you get a range of women who are experiencing this sort of relationship—this transactional relationship. My episodes really explore the concept of identity. My character literally has her identity removed from her, and then she has to find out what she really wants and who she is within this new framework. I think that’s a thing that all women go through. The Girlfriend Experience is a weirdly interesting portal into examining what happens psychologically to women of all kinds, not just those just going through girlfriend experiences. None of the relationships in the show look like a typical marriage. I think viewers might recognize themselves in these characters—whether they want to admit it or not. I think that’s why people find it fascinating. Sex might be the gateway into the storyline, but I think we really get into the psyche of these people enough that it starts to resonate on a very personal level for everyone.