'Blade Runner: Black Lotus'' Jessica Henwick on Show's Two Asian Leads and Honoring Original

Adult Swim and Crunchyroll's anime co-production Blade Runner: Black Lotus premieres on November 13.

The new addition to the Blade Runner franchise stars Jessica Henwick in the lead role of Elle, a female replicant who has lost her memory and is searching for answers on how she came to be.

Henwick spoke to Newsweek about the series, how co-directors Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama honored the legacy of Ridley Scott's classic film, and her thoughts on being a lead alongside Will Yun Lee.

The actor admitted she thought it was "incredible" she and Asian American actor Lee could be at the forefront of the anime, joining Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling as representatives of the franchise.

"It's incredible, it really is incredible especially in something like Blade Runner," she said. "I love the lead characters they've had, obviously Deckard is one for the ages.

"But it's nice that [the producers] were bold and took a step forward, and thought 'ok let's just try something different, for fun, for funsies.' It was such a pleasure to work with Will, I'm such a huge fan of his."

Honoring the original

Despite how iconic Blade Runner is, not only in cinematic history but in the sci-fi genre as a whole, Henwick admitted she didn't feel any pressure over what fans might think of the anime when she was cast.

The Iron Fist star explained: "Not when I first signed up, Aramaki-san and Kamiyama-san have such an amazing body of work.

"The crew and creatives gave me faith that we were going to do this right and I know they've held onto the Blade Runner [rights] for so long because they only wanted to make it when it's right, so I wasn't intimidated when I signed up.

"But, once I'd finished recording, then I was like 'oh did I do a good job? And is this a worthy addition to the universe?'

"So, I immediately asked to view the episodes and I love them, I think they're stunning. I think the fans are going to be happy, as well as new viewers to the universe."

The anime is set between the events of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, with its characters dealing with the aftermath of the events featured in anime short film Black Out.

Henwick said the show strikes a "fine balance" between celebrating the original and bringing something new to the table.

"I mean it's a really fine balance because you want to give fans what they want to see, which is more of the same, but you also know you cannot top Blade Runner, Blade Runner is the perfect film," she explained.

"I do think having a female protagonist is something new, a female replicant, [it's] a really fascinating story for her to be the eyes in and for her to be the POV."

Focusing on a female protagonist

Of Elle, she went on: "What interested me was the journey she would go on, I knew she was going to start the show like a newborn child with no sense of identity.

"She was a blank slate, and I knew that they were going to let me take her on this amazing journey of identity and discovery, and so I was most curious about making sure I could sell that in the voice, which hopefully I did."

It was Elle's vulnerability that appealed most to Henwick, because she often plays confident, assertive characters onscreen and it was nice to make a change.

"It was so much fun because I don't get to play those characters in real life," the actor said of Elle. "I do feel sometimes typecast as women who are very self-assured, very confident, and that's amazing but it was nice to just play someone so vulnerable and so raw.

"There's no filter, it's like you said she's not hiding any secrets she's an open book, she just doesn't know what's inside the book!

"It was a pleasure and it's part of the fun of voiceover, it's why I keep returning to it because you get to play characters you'd never get to play in normal life."

Blade Runner: Black Lotus premieres on Adult Swim and Crunchyroll at midnight EST on Saturday, November 13.

Blade Runner: Black Lotus
Jessica Henwick plays lead Elle in "Blade Runner: Black Lotus", Adult Swim and Crunchyroll's new anime that is released at midnight ET on November 13. Henwick pictured left at the "No Time To Die" World Premiere at the Royal Albert Hall on September 28, 2021 in London, England. Mike Marsland/WireImage/Adult Swim

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