Jonas (Naveen Andrews) comforts Angel (Daryl Hannah) in Netflix's "Sense8." (Netflix)

‘Sense8’ stars on how series expanded their minds

By now, many viewers have watched Netflix’s incredible series “Sense8.” For those of you who haven’t, get busy!

The series, from Lana and Andy Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, tells the stories of eight people from seven different countries who become psychically linked as “sensates.” They are able to share each other’s thoughts, feelings and abilities. So when one of them is attacked, he or she can use another’s fighting abilities.

The series, which was filmed in nine countries, delves deep into people’s interconnectedness—or lack thereof—as well as commenting on sexuality, identity, gender and common human needs.

At one point early in the series, Chicago cop Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) is reeling after experiencing his newfound capabilities. He says to a mysterious man who first appears to him only in thought, and then in person, “I’m losing my mind.”

Jonas (Naveen Andrews) replies, “No, it’s just expanding.” Jonas turns out to be the man who explains to Will and the other sensates what is happening to them, and how Angel (Daryl Hannah) sacrificed herself while “birthing” them as sensates.

When I had the chance to talk to Smith in a one-one-one interview and to Andrews and Hannah during a conference call with other writers, I asked them if and how the “Sense8” experience expanded their minds.

“Oh my God,” Hannah said after Andrews laughed. Their interview came the morning after the“Sense8” cast and writer-directors watched the entire series together.

So naturally, their minds were blown. I had talked with Smith before he saw the series with his cast-mates, but he was equally excited—and to mention eloquent and passionate—about what the entire group had accomplished.

Below find each of their responses to my question. Read my “Sense8” review here, and my full Brian J. Smith interview here.

Brian J. Smith
Brian J. Smith stars as Chicago cop Will Gorski in Netflix’s “Sense8.” (Netflix)

Brian J. Smith

Plays Will Gorski

I remember having lunch with Lana and Andy before we started. They came up to New York and we had lunch in my favorite Thai place.

I told them, “This is one of those shows where I feel like I’m going to have to grow as a person in order to understand and convey what it is you guys are going after here.”

This idea of empathy—to really get inside someone’s experience, really get inside someone’s memory or someone’s head and really honestly feel 100 percent of what they’re feeling—in a lot of ways that’s what we do as actors. But we’re very rarely asked to play a character who does that.

I knew that that was going to be a spiritual challenge. I do feel like this made me a better person. It’s made me more curious. It’s made me more aware of negative thought patterns in my mind.

Just spending time in places like Nairobi and seeing the Enkare swamps. Having mothers in Mumbai with these kids in their arms begging you for food or money every day when you’re on your way to a film set. My God, it just completely changes your perspective of the world and your place in it.

Naveen Andrews as Jonas in Netflix’s “Sense8.” (Netflix)

Naveen Andrews

Plays Jonas

Yes. We saw the whole thing [last night]. And it’s like our minds are almost aching with being blown, to be frank. I mean, I can’t describe in the English language quite well what you feel when go through this. Yes. It’s seriously mind-expanding.

Daryl Hannah as Angel in Netflix’s “Sense8.” (Netflix)

Daryl Hannah

Plays Angel

The whole cast just sat through the entire series last night together with Lana. It was incredible. [My mind is] right now expanding on the possibilities of what you could do with the medium of film. It’s incredible what they’ve done.

They went beyond things I’ve ever seen on film before.

But yet it’s very, very human and very grounded at the same time as being incredibly fantastical. To take such bold, courageous, inspired actions in their art, in their work, is so admirable. 

So right now, at the moment, my mind is expanding in those ways. I’m so excited, like my whole being is vibrating at the moment from our experience last night.

[The series] opens your heart and your mind as well. Cinema sort of allows you to tune into worlds of others that you would maybe never get to experience in your own lives and have some empathy and compassion for that.[“Sense8”] does that on a global scale.