Toni Collette teases the 'empowering' narrative of Amazon's new series The Power
“So much of it is aligned with what we’re going through in the real world,” the star says of The Power, which explores what happens when young women across the world suddenly manifest superpowers.
Over the past few years, young women have stepped up to make their voices heard in America. In 2017, the MeToo movement redefined how American media and culture discusses sexual assault. In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. To this day, young women continue to play crucial roles in movements challenging hierarchies of race and gender, as well as advocating for solutions to the ongoing climate crisis.
But what if that cultural and social power, that threat to the status quo, manifested as a literal superpower? Such is the premise of Amazon Prime Video’s new sci-fi series The Power, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s 2016 novel of the same name. The story begins with an unexpected phenomenon: All across the world, young women suddenly gain the power to generate and manipulate electricity.
The Power is split into parallel storylines, allowing the show to explore how this electric power affects different young women across the world. One of them is Jos Cleary-Lopez (Auli’i Cravalho), daughter of Seattle’s mayor Margot Cleary-Lopez (Toni Collette) and her husband Rob (John Leguizamo).
“I just love the premise on the whole,” Collette tells EW. “I think it’s an empowering story, specifically for young girls and women. It’s a story about inclusivity, equality, and these things that we’re fighting for. So much of it is aligned with what we’re going through in the real world, but it’s also a metaphor for the inherent power that we’re all born with, whether we acknowledge it and develop it or not.”
As Jos and other young women reckon with their new abilities, Margot takes it upon herself to become their voice — acknowledging the reality of what’s happening while powerful men try to ignore it.
“Margot is a force of nature. She’s incredibly grounded, yet idealistic,” Collette says. “She’s actually a good politician who wants to represent her people and has good intentions. And she’s the person who, when this power comes about and everyone’s kind of saying it’s a hoax and trying to squash it and not give these girls power and resist change, she’s the one who looks around and goes, ‘oh my God, I am the one. I have to step up, I have to be the truth teller.’ There’s something so brave and inspirational about being that person.”
Collette actually joined The Power relatively late in the filmmaking process. Leslie Mann was originally cast as Margot when production began in 2019 — but as the series was delayed years by the COVID-19 pandemic, different creative decisions were made and Collette stepped in last year.
“Coming into a project late is kind of intimidating because everyone knows each other, there’s a shorthand, but I need not have worried,” Collette says. “They were so welcoming. A lot of the scenes had been rewritten, but they all felt that they were enhanced and they were excited to do them again. It was a pleasure.”
Of her co-stars, Collette says, “John Leguizamo is an incredible person and just so talented. It was like we’d known each other forever although we’d never met. We had these beautifully written scenes about a marriage kind of breaking down and being affected by a larger dynamic. Auliʻi is so beautiful and so talented, she has such a gorgeous open heart. I think the power coming into the family via her really creates a bond that we weren’t expecting. We did a lot of our scenes in our house set, so we were able to exist in that space and it’s really comfortable and easy and all the kids are amazing in it.”
The first three episodes of The Power are streaming now on Prime Video, with subsequent installments arriving each Friday until the finale on May 12.