‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Star Daisy Edgar-Jones Knew ‘Pretty Much Nothing’ About Mormonism Before Being Cast

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In the new FX on Hulu miniseries “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Daisy Edgar-Jones portrays Brenda Lafferty, a Mormon woman who was murdered with her baby by her religious extremist brother-in-laws. Edgar-Jones came to the project knowing “pretty much nothing” about the case and Mormonism overall.

“I came to it really fresh,” she told Variety while promoting the series, which also stars Andrew Garfield as a Mormon detective investigating the killings. “I think the true crime novel by John Krakauer that the story’s inspired by is incredibly in depth, so that was a really helpful launchpad to then approach the series. But no, I knew pretty much nothing before starting.”

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The creator of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Dustin Lance Black, has been working on an adaptation of the John Krakauer book since 2011, and Lafferty’s remaining family members have been involved. Edgar-Jones told Variety that when working on the series, she tried to be extremely sensitive to the fact that her character was a real person.

“I was very concerned when it came to approaching the scenes that I was being really careful and made sure that I approached them with a real kindness and sensitivity to the fact that her family is still alive and they are very much victims of this crime,” Edgar-Jones said. “I did reach out to Sharon, who is Brenda’s younger sister, ahead of filming, just to introduce myself. I really wanted to touch base in a way. She was so kind and generous in chatting with me, and once I’d done that, I felt more confident to just approach the character and explore what was on the page and find a way to celebrate Brenda’s life.”

“Under the Banner of Heaven” follows two timelines, exploring both the events leading to Brenda’s murder and the investigation of the incident. Because of this structure, Edgar-Jones doesn’t have any scenes with Garfield, despite spending months shooting with him in Calgary, Alberta.

“We were all in Calgary for like five months, so I know Andrew really well, but we never actually had any scenes together,” Edgar-Jones said. “I’m such a huge fan of his work, so it’s actually really fun for me to watch the series, because there’s a huge amount of it that I’m not involved in. So I’m watching it as a viewer myself. So I’m so excited to see — I’ve obviously read the scripts — how him and Gil [Birmingham] bring to life that dynamic between them, and the police room drama aspect of things. So it’s really fun to be able to watch it with fresh eyes, see how he does it.”

“Under the Banner of Heaven” is currently streaming on Hulu. Watch the full conversation with Edgar-Jones above.

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