Benedict Arnold, hero of the American Revolution.
That’s the storyline for the second season of AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies, says actress Ksenia Solo, who joins the historical drama as Arnold’s second wife, Peggy Shippen.
Rather than presenting the notorious traitor as he’s best known today, Solo says the lush period saga explores the personal details that led to Arnold’s famous betrayal.
And that, in some way, could redeem his ignoble reputation.
“It’s not as cut-and-dry as Benedict just being a traitor and he’s terrible and he’s evil for what he did,” says Solo, born in Latvia but raised in Toronto.
“He was treated very poorly by people that were close to him and by George Washington himself . . . He really was a hero (for) everything he did for his country, including risk his life and including getting shot in the leg multiple times and never being able to walk properly again. . . . He never got the status he deserved, he never got the respect that he deserved.”
The second season picks up in the fall of 1777 — several years before Arnold, played by Owain Yeoman, turns on his brothers-in-arms.
It’s clear things are not looking good for Gen. George Washington, played by Ian Kahn, and his Continental Army: the British have seized Philadelphia, and conspirators emerge within his own ranks.
Shippen is introduced in Monday’s two-hour premiere as a skilled socialite with a rich father and many suitors. The Paris Hilton of her time, according to AMC press materials.
Solo says her cunning character gets a wide berth to display the complicated reasons she joins British Maj. John Andre, played by JJ Feild, in recruiting battle commander Arnold.
“A lot of her motivation is out of love, her love for John Andre,” says Solo, also known as Kenzi on the Showcase fantasy series Lost Girl.
Nevertheless, most of the action still centres on conflicted cabbage farmer Abe Woodhull, played by Jamie Bell, and his spy ring. The first season ended with Abe burning down his home to cover up the murder of a British soldier who discovered he was a spy.
“Season 1, I think, was all about building the foundation, introducing the characters, really exploring the history and introducing everybody to it,” Solo says.
“Now they can get into action. And so the pacing is different, the new characters add a new energy.”
Preparing for the role of Shippen involved a lot of reading, but Solo admits she started with some dubious material — Drunk History, the Web series-turned TV show in which inebriated storytellers recount famous past events.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to be able to do it as good as Winona Ryder in ‘Drunk History.’ But I will try,” chuckles Solo, who worked with Ryder on Black Swan.
As a Canadian, Solo can’t help but attempt to redeem the reputation of show villain Capt. John Graves Simcoe, played by Samuel Roukin.
In Turn, he’s portrayed as a vicious attack dog who targets Abe and his gang with an almost psychotic ruthlessness.
Solo notes that the real Simcoe would eventually become the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, found the town of York (now Toronto) and play a key role in ending slavery in Canada.
“They’re definitely portrayed as the evil people, I think the occupying forces are always given that status,” she says of the Brit characters in Turn.
It took some time for Solo to find a followup to Lost Girl, which won her a devoted fanbase for her sidekick character.
Over the years, she says she tried to squeeze in other jobs, but with 12-to-16 hour days on Lost Girl stretching anywhere from four to seven months, “it was physically impossible.”
Shortly after her Lost Girl departure was announced in 2014, she went to Los Angeles looking for her next step. The night before returning to Toronto, she got the script for Turn.
“The heavens opened up and the light came through and here was the sort of role that I had been dreaming about,” she says.
Simply put, it was time to move on.
“When you play the same character on television for so many years it’s very easy for not only viewers — but industry professionals — to pigeonhole you and only see you as that one thing,” says Solo, who also joins the new season of Space’s Orphan Black.
“I don’t want to do the same thing twice.” (Source)