Maltese actress Marama Corlett’s star has been rising, with incredible appearances in the latest season of His Dark Materials and her current role in BBC America’s The Watch.
Now, in a recent interview with Glamour magazine, Corlett went in-depth into her surprising upbringing in Malta – including being raised in what is known as the Unification Church or Unification Movement.
Corlett, aged 29, has described her childhood as quite conservative, “in England, you have a pub on every corner, in Malta, you have a church on every corner.”
Her mother is Maltese whilst her father is from New Zealand. Both of them met one another when they joined the spiritual movement in the 1970s known as the Unification Church. The movement, considered a cult by some, is sometimes called ‘The Moonies’ after it’s founder Sun Myung Moon.
Founded in the 1950s, Moon founded the movement after claiming Jesus appeared to him during prayer asking him to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth. Labelling himself a Messiah, Moon became famous for organising mass weddings where thousands of couples, many of whom never having met prior, are paired together and married off.
“My parents also had an arranged marriage in New York City, in Madison Square Garden and 4,000 couples were getting married all at the same time” Corlett explained.
“I always joke with my parents, that it’s kind of like a 70s-80s Tinder but I think my parents were searching for something. They were finding a place where they felt like they belonged and searching for something higher.”
As such, Corlett accredits this to be a reason for growing up with a sense of duality – having two teachings that split between what her parents’ religious movement taught her and what the Catholic Church taught her.
Offering an example of how this duality shaped her daily life growing up, Corlett recounts one of her catechism classes. “I was at the back of the class and the teacher was explaining how Jesus died for us and I put my hand up saying, “Jesus was murdered, and the Messiah is here.” The nun took me to one side and said, “Who’s telling you these things?”
It is moments such as these that Corlett notes are things she is still processing. Whereas she admits that other people who have grown up experiencing similar things to her tend to be very expressive, she believes that she is still processing it all.
However, despite not feeling that you can truly leave the world of growing up in such a setting behind, acting (and before that ballet) were in fact what Corlett describes as being therapeutic for her – an outlet to express herself.
I started off doing classical ballet, and that was always a therapy in many ways. I just didn’t know it.” Corlett explains, noting that it allowed her “a safe space to express myself.”
As the years progressed, she would go into acting as it appeared to be her next form of expression – a way to use her voice and emotions through her work. Being pushed and encouraged to work hard by her parents, Corlett has progressed far from when she started.
In fact, her sense of duality in growing up is very much a trait that has no doubt helped further strengthen her portrayal of Angua Von Uberwald – the character she plays in The Watch.
In the show, Corlett’s character is not only a corporal within the City Watch of a city where crime has been legalised, she is also a werewolf! This allows layers upon layers of duality that we see within Angua.
Asked about how this sense of duality plays with the character, Corlett explains that “she’s struggling with her duality throughout the story and trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in in this world.”
The Watch is currently available to watch on BBC America and sets to be just the role that Corlett needs to fully show the world just what she is able to do when it comes with playing with the idea of a dual identity. The complexity of portraying such duality in characters is definitely not to be underestimated.
After all, we have seen dazzling performances with similar characters such as Jodie Comer’s portrayal of Villanelle (Killing Eve) or Ruth Wilson’s portrayal of Marisa Coulter (His Dark Materials).
Have you seen The Watch? Let us know!