Ashleigh Cummings on Citadel: ‘Priyanka Chopra is immensely creative, I loved working with her’

Australian actress Ashleigh Cummings talks about Citadel, working with Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden, and more

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Ashleigh Cummings arrives at the global premiere of "Citadel" on April 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Australian actress Ashleigh Cummings, who was seen playing Abby in Russo Brothers’ Citadel revealed that her co-star Priyanka Chopra Jonas is an immensely creative actor. Citadel also stars Richard Madden in a pivotal role.

Citadel will include spin-off shows in different languages set in the Italian Alps, India, Spain, and Mexico. It will star Varun Dhawan and Samantha Ruth Prabhu.

In this interview, Ashleigh Cummings spoke about Citadel, working with Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden, and more:

What drew you to the role of Abby Conroy?

ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: I had auditioned for the Russos previously, but couldn’t partake in the project due to scheduling conflicts. I was at my doctor’s examination table when I received a call with the offer for Citadel. I thought the brothers were offering me a one-liner consolation prize which, honestly, I would have been thrilled with! But then I read the script and was floored to be offered such a rich role. I loved that Abby embodies a certain kind of romantic mundanity and safety amidst the dopamine and adrenaline rush of the show. Those qualities are often judged in our society and in our storytelling, but in Citadel, they were celebrated and met with recognition of their value, while also allowing Abby to be a distinctive and expansive character in her own right.

Also, the idea that we could be many things at once was infused into every aspect of the show, and I appreciated that Abby’s lines weren’t as clear-cut as they seemed, either. Having full-bodied and incongruous characters represented on-screen was genuinely refreshing to read. It resonates more with me than the traditional archetypes we’ve become accustomed to seeing in our narratives.

How was it acting opposite your fellow castmates? Any memorable moments on set?

ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: Richard’s brain is electric, and he’s always 10 steps ahead. He has such an instinct for the architectural requirements of scene and story—which I think stems from his theatre experience—so it’s a creative dream to be seen with him. He’s also exceptionally generous and attuned, so if I’m not getting something, he’ll work it with me or surprise me with what he knows I need during my coverage. He made me feel both personally and creatively very supported and was definitely a tethering point for me in the whole experience.

How was it working with Priyanka Chopra?

ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: Priyanka’s creativity is immense, and I love working together because of her spontaneity. Her versatility on and off-screen is something I deeply admire because she is able to move with such grace through myriad circumstances. One moment she will be finding levity and laughing between takes, and the next, she is in the trenches of humanity doing a dark scene with Richard. She has a family, is a humanitarian, a businesswoman, an author, a host, and a beautiful colleague and pal. I was quite sick during filming, and she hand-curated the best get-well basket I have ever received.

How does Citadel compare to other film and television productions you’ve worked on in terms of its scale and scope?

ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: I’ve never worked on anything even close to this scale before, both in terms of production value and in its establishment of a creative universe. I remember walking on set the first day, and Richard was shooting an action sequence on the biggest green screen I have ever seen. I got Jell-O legs looking around at the gargantuan machine in operation with and around him. It looked like a theme park with hundreds of attendees, many of them hoping that one guy with a pretend gun would hit his mark. It felt like a lot of pressure. But all that kind of falls away when they call action, and you’re in the ring with your scene partner.

Citadel is an action-packed series from start to finish. How did you like working with the stunt teams?

ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: The stunt teams were exceptional, and I wish their line of work received more recognition from our industry! My role wasn’t super stunt heavy, but I worked with Nikki [Powell] and her team to learn about the philosophies behind certain martial arts, figure out what style of fighting my character might have engaged in, and how these things might influence general physicality and worldview. Then if we had time, they would swing me around on the ropes for a bit, or they’d teach me some boxing or wushu. They were a vital creative force and great mates throughout the shoot.

What can you tease about your character’s arc over the course of the season?

ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: We see Abby step into survival mode after her stable, contented life is upended, and we nudge around in her past a little bit, too. Abby’s arc will peel away parts of her controlled veneer and reveal some darker corners of her past as well. As Tucci says in the trailer, “Everything you know is a lie.”

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First published on: 25-05-2023 at 02:31 IST