The Nevers

Why Did Joss Whedon’s Script Draw Olivia Williams to The Nevers?

Dept. of Chats and Confabs


*This article contains spoilers for the second episode of The Nevers. You can read our spoiler-free review of the series here.

Olivia Williams’ Lavinia Bidlow, is something of an enigma. In the first episode of The Nevers, she was introduced as the Professor X-esque benefactor of the orphanage that Amalia runs for the Touched. While London at large is both suspicious and fearful of the Touched and their abilities, Lavinia seems to have made them a part of her cause. The big reveal of the second episode, however, calls into question Lavinia’s motives. Does Lavinia only see the Touched as being nothing more than her charity? Why is she funding Edmund Hague’s experiments on the Touched? Do Lavinia and Lord Massen want the same thing? Is she secretly the villain of the piece?


In order to get some answers, we caught up with Olivia Williams over the telephone for a quick conversation about her character and what it was that excited her about doing this series.

The Nevers

This isn’t the first time you’ve worked on a Whedon project, and I think it’s safe to say that he has a very distinct authorial voice in everything he does. When you got the material, what was it that drew you into it?

Olivia Williams: This script gives the opportunity to so many women to be extraordinary. And that is something as an actress you’re constantly on the search for. For something that’s going to take you to a new place and give you new possibilities. And with Lavinia Bidlow, I hadn’t played a character with such an extreme disability before – though not all disability is visible. 

What was it about Lavinia then that had you excited for the role? What can you tell us about where this character is headed? Is she secretly a villain?

OW: She had such an interesting “interest.” Why is she interested in the touched? Why is she saving them? Why is she the only one in that society who is benevolent towards them? And and also her relationship with Auggie is is quite fascinating. The care she takes. The control she has over him. And his seeming gentleness and confusion. What’s going on there? Why has she been put in charge of the family fortune in an age of paternal power? So there’s something very dodgy going on. And I love to play dodgy.

You did very well in not giving anything away. I think the HBO snipers can rest easy. 

OW: Oh that’s good. Then again, if I knew what was going on, I would have obviously told you. 


The first episode of The Nevers is now streaming exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 HD). The first season is in two parts with the first six episodes of Part One airing every Monday while Part Two’s six episodes will follow at a later date.

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