Olivia Munn from The Rook plays superheroes but chooses roles for their humanity

Marcus Goh
·Contributor
·3 min read
Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)
Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)

"Not getting typecast means saying no to a lot of things," said Olivia Munn, who plays Monica Reed on the sci-fi thriller The Rook. Munn, who has also played Psylocke on X-Men: Apocalypse and Sloan Sabbith on The Newsroom, is an actress of Vietnamese descent on her mother's side. However, she has worked hard to ensure that she hasn't been stereotyped because of the roles she takes.

"Not getting typecast means saying no to a lot of things," she said. "The only things people see are the things I said 'yes' to, but the things I said 'no' to are the things that no-one will ever see." She admitted that her choices meant that she could go without work for long periods of time, which was tough. However, The Rook was one show that she said "yes" to.

Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)
Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)

On The Rook, a show that revolves around a British secret organisation that works to harness the abilities of super-powered humans, Munn plays Monica Reed, a (superhumanly) strong American agent who's ostensibly an ally to the organisation. She aids fellow super-powered human Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell), who seeks to unravel conspiracies and secrets within said organisation. The television series is based on the novel of the same name. It is also one of Munn's most recent dramatic roles on television.

Munn shared that she tries "not to take on roles that show women to be submissive or extremely strong." The rationale behind her choices is "really are about whether I am inspired by the world or the character."

Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)
Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)

"I have one rule before I take on any role which is: does [my character] exist if [the male character] doesn't exist?" said Munn. She shared that if her character has a relationship with another male character, then she would check if her story could stand alone, even without the other male character, and whether her character would still be believable as a human being.

"For me, that is a way to choose roles that allow the women to be seen as full people, even if it means that is not the biggest role or it's not the one I was wanting initially."

Having played psychic martial artist mutant Psylocke and now super strong government agent Monica Reed, Munn is no stranger to the superhero genre. But what does she think about it?

Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)
Olivia Munn plays Monica Reed on The Rook. (PHOTO: HBO)

"The superhero genre is such a fun genre to play in, because there are no rules when it comes to what we are used to here and in real life," said Munn. "And whatever superhero world we're in, you get to play in this world that's so unique and new."

But beyond the fantastical aspect of superhero worlds, lie a deeper, more emotional appeal for Munn.

"Superhero worlds show a lot of hope. And superhero comic books and movies... there are these people that have these special abilities but have been pushed to the outskirts of society. Even the heroes of this day and age are most of the time demonised and have to stay under the cover of darkness," she said.

"So I think that there's something that has just always been beautiful about people on the outside and pushed out there by society because they don't fit into the norm."

The Rook is available on HBO GO, with new episodes every Monday.

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