Elaine Tan on AMC+ Series Moonhaven, Its Utopian World, Working with Dominic Monaghan

Courtesy of AMC Networks

AMC+ series, Moonhaven, is getting its season one finale next week, and AMC Networks has renewed it for a second season with six episodes coming to the service in 2023. The show has become the most watched exclusive series on the AMC streaming platform along with being the second most watched new series. The series is created by showrunner Peter Ocko (Lodge 49, Black Sails, Elementary, Pushing Daisies) and is set in a utopian colony on the Moon. It stars Emma McDonald (Queens of Mystery), Dominic Monaghan (Lost, The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Amara Karan (Doctor Who), Ayelet Zurer (Losing Alice), Joe Manganiello (Spider-Man, True Blood), Kadeem Hardison (Black Monday), Yazzmin Newell (The Last Tree), and Elaine Tan (Doctor Who).

Elaine Tan plays opposite Monaghan as Lone, and we had the chance to chat with her about the show, the world of Moonhaven, her role, and more.

Nerd Reactor: You’ve been at this game for a while, especially sci-fi. You have Moonhaven. What makes this one feel different compared to the other projects you’ve done?

Elaine Tan: I think Moonhaven is different in so many ways. You know, just the wealth that’s been created. First of all, when I read the script, being on the moon, I never imagined it to look like it did. But it’s amazing. What they’ve created is this stunning, visual, colorful moonlight. It’s amazing. But I think what makes Moonhaven different, as well as the message that it sends, it’s ultimately about people and humanity. And there are really lovely characters in it who are very complex and who have a lot of push and pull. So I think that’s what’s different about Moonhaven. It has a nice message behind it as well and what could come in the future. How we could change things to be more harmonious or peaceful as a society.

With the show, there are the people, the way they’re dressed, and the setting. What got you in the mode to be in that world?

I think being on an island, in general, was a magical experience. I mean, all of the dancing that we did and the singing, some people did a lot more than I did, but that all felt very natural in Ireland for some reason. The costumes were amazing. They put a lot of work into those costumes. We had many fittings beforehand to make them look like that. I think they did an amazing job. I felt like it was very old-fashioned, like Amish almost but very futuristic, and how they merge the two.

What kind of dancing did you get to do?

It was mostly quite simple, but they’re mostly connecting rituals, I think. They were slow movers, nothing too hectic or fancy. But you know, I think for some people, maybe it was a new thing. But I danced when I was younger, and so I feel quite comfortable with dance, and I really enjoyed it. I think it was more about a connection process. I don’t think I did a ton of dancing. Maybe Dominic did more.

Oh yeah, he did a lot of dancing. So what was that like acting opposite him?

Oh, he’s lovely. He’s very grounded. Super curious. Asks a lot of questions. He was really fun to work alongside. I remember certain things that stuck out where it was so cold at one point. We had to put hot water bottles on our faces and things like that. But no, it was a really fun time. Yeah, Dominic’s really nice, a really good guy.

With the show, it feels like a community. Was there some kind of tradition before starting that? Was there a boot camp?

I don’t think we had anything like that, but we all used to sit around and chat and eat and drink tea. Everyone got on really well. It was a really nice crew actually. You know, it felt like everyone’s super welcoming. We had a very diverse mix of people of all ages and all ethnicities. It was a fun time. Everyone, and even the crew, the lovely Irish crew, were really good people.

There’s a lot of mystery behind the show. Did you get to read the whole script, or were you on the edge of your seat, episode by episode?

Yeah, I was. The writing is really good, I thought. Even in the first episode, I wanted to know more. I remember seeing the pilot script at the beginning, and it said straightaway the cast is mixed race because this is the future and that grabbed me straightaway. And then every page you turn, you’re sort of wanting to know more, and certainly six episodes. But I think there’s a long way to go for all of the characters and for the story.

Being on the set, do you have a particular favorite moment in Moonhaven?

I think being around the kids and the family. I remember we were all taking pictures and just laughing a lot, just having a good time. I don’t really remember anything in particular. I just remember we had a good time.

You’ve been in this business for a while. What was it like, just starting out? And then finally getting that feeling like, “Yeah, I can do this! Acting is my thing.”

I don’t know if you ever feel that. I think I have moments of both. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, and then I gave it up for a long time. I went and studied law and then went back into it. I think it starts with the writing. And a lot of the time, it’s easy to make good writing look good. And sometimes it’s hard with the writing that doesn’t flow so well. It’s harder to work with that.

But I don’t know. I mean, I think I had moments of it when I was young. And then obviously, I didn’t go to drama school. I learned a lot from just being on set and auditioning. Because I went to law school, I didn’t go to RADA or LAMDA. You just keep going, and then certain roles click with you and connect with you. I don’t like to ever think that I’ve got it, you know, because I feel like things stop growing. And for me, I’m growth orientated. I like to keep learning and like to keep getting better. I don’t know if I’ve ever been like, “Yes, I’ve got this. This is what I do.!” I like what I do. I give it my best, and I try to be as intuitive as I can and the best I can.

About Moonhaven

Set 100 years in the future, the suspenseful thrill ride of a series follows Bella Sway (McDonald), a lunar cargo pilot and smuggler who finds herself accused of a crime and marooned on Moonhaven, a utopian community on a 500-square-mile Garden of Eden built on the moon to find solutions to the problems that will soon end civilization on Mother Earth. A skeptic in paradise, Bella is sucked into a conspiracy to gain control of the artificial intelligence responsible for Moonhaven’s miracles and teams with a local detective, Paul Serno (Monaghan), to stop the forces that want to destroy Earth’s last hope before they are destroyed themselves. Tomm Schultz (Manganiello), an ex-military with a philosophical bent, is the right hand of the lead Earth diplomat to the moon, who finds his ambitions changed when he’s injected with a mind-altering moon drug.

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