Alexis Molnar Talks About Netflix's New Original Series "Eric"

Alexis Molnar Photo. Image Credit to Sylvie Rosokoff.
Alexis Molnar Photo. Image Credit to Sylvie Rosokoff. /

Alexis Molnar gives a glimpse into what to expect from her new Netflix six-part mini-series drama, Eric, and her character, Raya. Alexis Molnar shares her experience in live-action television, such as what went into Eric as well as her role on NBC's Rise. But, Alexis Molnar also shines a light on the difference between what goes into film acting for the cameras, and how that differs from stage plays and live performances, such as her involvement in "Dear Evan Hansen" before it became a sensation on Broadway.

Culturess: What drew you to acting?

Alexis Molnar: I guess what drew me to acting is the accessibility to it. I started as a sports and science kid and I didn't really have a lot of opportunity there. Then I started singing when I was about in third or fourth grade. From there, finally, it felt like, 'Oh, this activity makes me feel welcome and safe and it's a lot of fun and I happened to be good at it. From there, I just went into pursuing it further until I realized that I can make it something that I want to do for the rest of my life.

Culturess: What interested you about Eric?

Alexis Molnar: So, my character, Raya, is a little dangerous and I think that was the most attractive thing for me because I don't feel like I often get a lot of roles that are as dangerous and as scheming as her. So, the opportunity to do something as fun and explore a darker side really attracted me to the project, and also, just Abby Morgan's writing is so compelling that I wanted to be involved.

Culturess: Is there anything that you can tease about your character, Raya?

Alexis Molnar: She might not be for everybody. In fact, she might be for nobody. But, I'll let the audience decide that. I think she just knows how to get what she wants by any means necessary.

Culturess: What is the difference or similarity between working on Eric and your experience on Rise?

Alexis Molnar: It's very different. I mean, I was a lot younger when Rise was happening and Rise was also my first consistent series that I had been working on, so, a lot of it was an education in real time. I was working with costars that were closer to my age range. We were all very young. It was a more theatrical team. It was pretty much like musical theatre being filmed. So, it's quite a departure compared to Eric, which is a bit grittier and darker deals with a lot more prevalent socio-economic issues than Rise did. But, both good shows in their respects.

Culturess: What has gone into producing and starring in your own short horror film, Boyhoarder?

Alexis Molnar: Oh my goodness, so much work, so much time, so much effort and so much community support. Producing my short film, it was the first time I had ever been at the helm of something like that to such a degree and I had a lot of responsibility. It was interesting to wear both an actor hat and a producing hat at the same time and keeping in mind it was a short film so we were practically working on a student film budget, a bunch of friends, a bunch of colleagues calling in favors, and it was a great time to get a bunch of artists together to support each other in ways that, I think, we all wanted to but never had an opportunity to. But producing is a lot of work and at the end of the day the responsibility falls in your hands so you have to be prepared for that.

Culturess: What went into creating your performance piece, Alexis Molnar sings the Fiona Apple Songbook at Don't Tell Mama NYC?

Alexis Molnar: So my director and collaborator for that project, Max Friedman, is a New York City theatre director cabaret director, and has been working in the city for years. We got connected through some mutual friends because when I was working on "Dear Evan Hansen," and he approached me and asked me if I ever heard Fiona Apple's music before and at that time I hadn't heard a single thing. I maybe had heard "Criminal" on the radio but I didn't know it and he told me to, 'Listen to these three songs, see what you think, we'll go from there,' and hearing the gospel for the first time of an artist that you just really align with or a piece of work that just really hits hard. Max had approached me then with the idea of putting on a Fiona Apple-related cabaret. I had never done one before. I was terrified. But it just took a lot of trust, a lot of collaboration, and then I just became the biggest Fiona Apple fan ever. Her lyrics, her musicality are so intricate. I don't think there's another artist out there like her.

Culturess: What is the difference between acting for the cameras versus a live performance?

Alexis Molnar: There's a lot. I find they're both great in their own respects. I have a very soft spot for theatre because it's where I started and it's where I grew up and it is what I was trained through and there is an excitement to it that I don't think you get through film acting with a live audience. There's a difference when you're film acting and you have a crew with you and there's a bunch of people with cameras even though it looks like there's only two people on screen because there's a room fill of fifty people. But there are all actively doing their job. They're not watching you and observing your performance and the nuances of your performance. So with that flexibility and the ability to also have, hopefully not unlimited number of takes, but you do have the option to do it again when you're filming versus the show must go on, you gotta do it live, this is it, you gotta do it in the moment. There is something really special and exciting about that, that is different. Whereas film acting you're focused on the nuances of your performance. People say it's a little more natural acting. But to me it's all the same personally as far as technique goes. But when I'm film acting, I'm working on my performance and not running into the camera. Whereas, on stage, I'm trying to remember my lines and remember my blocking live in front of people who are actively judging me in real-time.

Culturess: How did you begin working on your performance pieces?

Alexis Molnar: I began working on them I think just out of a need to create something. I find that with any sort of creative career in any medium that you do it can be like, 'Oh I have very consistent work for a year' and then I have five years of doing hit-or-miss here-and-there stuff and then it's busy again. So, it's different for everybody. I find that if I sit too long and don't do anything then I start to get creatively very stagnant and I just try to write. I try to just sing a little bit, concieve things, even if they don't go anywhere, it's just always good to exercise that creative muscle.

Culturess: What went into portraying Alana Beck in "Dear Evan Hansen?"

Alexis Molnar: "Dear Evan Hansen" was a whirlwind experience that I am super grateful for. At the time when I joined it was still in the stages of development for the show itself, for all the characters, who they were. From where I started to what is known as the story of "Dear Evan Hansen" now is very different. It's gone through a lot of evolution. I was just excited to be involved with some of my musical theatre heroes at the time. Going into Alana, I just wanted to make sure I watched Election with Reese Witherspoon. She was a big inspiration for Alana, as well as just trying to keep it natural because I do think when "Dear Evan Hansen" hit the theatre seen in a mainstream way, it definitely shifted what new musical theatre is today and how musical theatre has evolved. So, I feel like it was this very interesting turning point. But going into Alana, I think at the end of the day, I just really wanted to do a good job.

Culturess: What types of projects would you like to work on in the future?

Alexis Molnar: I would love to work on horror movies. Anything horror, thriller, related I would love to be a Scream Queen. I'd also love to do just some dramas. Something really riveting. Something, like I always think a good amalgamation of my interests are something like an Ari Aster film, something like Hereditary or Midsommar would be incredible to be involved in. But, who knows, future is long.

Check out Alexis Molnar as Raya when Eric hits Netflix on Thursday, May 30th, 2024.

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