How Rachel Griffiths Reckoned With Her Villainous Side In The Wilds - Exclusive

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Prime Video's "The Wilds" tells the story of a group of teenagers coming together to beat the odds while trapped on a deserted island. But, possibly the most interesting element of the show is how they ended up on the island in the first place. Although the characters think their plane crash-landed as part of a freak accident, it's revealed in Season 1 that they are actually unwilling participants in a social experiment run by Gretchen Klein.

Rachel Griffiths, the actress portraying Gretchen Klein, sat down for an exclusive interview with The List to discuss Season 2 of the show, which gave her a chance to explore different aspects of her character and try to understand her actions. Griffiths told The List that she was excited that the second season allowed her to flesh out the role to make her even more complex and interesting for the audience — and she shared how she did so with a character who is so flawed.

How Griffiths approached her character's motivations

Going into Season 2 of "The Wilds," Rachel Griffiths said she was excited to further explore her character, Gretchen Klein. And because Klein is such an extreme person, Griffiths tried to reckon with her terrible actions and understand how her character could justify them. As the villain of the show, her character has put a group of teenagers' lives in danger against their will for the sake of an experiment, so she said it was a matter of "exploring that crazy [part of] people who really believe they're doing the right thing."

Regardless of how immoral Gretchen's actions are, Griffiths didn't want to play her as a two-dimensional villain. She saw the role as full of "opportunities to show different colors." Describing her philosophy in acting, Griffiths explained, "Every actor has a box of pencils. Some actors have only 12, and they may be brilliant playing those 12. I like to think I'm maybe a 48, maybe not 72; Jennifer Lawrence probably has 72. I think I've got a good 48, and I never limit them." Because of that, she was excited to play her "Wilds" character in new scenarios and interacting with different characters this season.

How Griffiths relates her character to the real world

In trying to understand Gretchen's motivations, Rachel Griffiths pointed out that there are a lot of people in reality who behave the way Gretchen Klein does. Although the exact scenario of faking a plane crash to trap teenagers on an island may be fiction, the idea of someone using the end to justify the means was something that felt grounded in reality for the actress. Griffiths said people like Gretchen Klein are "driven by this higher purpose that they believe in so passionately that they really find a way to not morally reckon with the collateral that they cause to real people's lives."

She added, "We see people like that all over the world at the moment, in all positions of power or in the media or people who own the media, different media companies," Griffiths said. Exploring how someone could live with those decisions was her challenge in tackling this role. "It's bad; it's trying to reckon with how can you f*** up the world so badly and look in the mirror and think you're doing great," she said.

"The Wilds" Season 2 is now streaming on Prime Video.