Season 2 of Anne with an E finally arrives on CBC this Sunday! As Canada gets ready for a return to Green Gables, I chatted with Amybeth McNulty about Anne’s growth in Season 2, how playing the iconic role has changed her life, and her excitement about the Season 3 renewal.
See Amybeth McNulty in Anne with an E, starting Sunday, September 23rd on CBC. Season 2 was released on Netflix outside of Canada this past summer.
From the first scenes in Season 2, we see that Anne has changed since the first season. The most notable change is that for the first time in her life, she has a home and a family.
There’s definitely more of a stability in her now. She’s not afraid that she’s going to be sent away if she makes mistakes. She has a family to help her learn about her mistakes instead and help her become a better person. She’s allowed to make mistakes, and she’s allowed to be a kid. I think we’re finally seeing her live out the childhood that she’s always dreamed of but has never been able to experience.
Anne also has a circle of friends who accept her and keep her grounded.
The girls are all growing up. Anne is 14 now. These kids, back in that time, were trying to figure out what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. Anne absolutely has the imagination that she always has had and always will have in the future. But every so often you’ll have a couple of her friends bring her back down to Earth, get her head out of the clouds for a second, and bring her back to real life. You’ll see these girls’ friendships blossom, and you get to see Anne make a couple more friends this season. It’s beautiful to see her reach out to these new people, understand where they’re coming from and hear their stories.
We also see the first inklings of Anne’s future as a teacher when she decides to help Jerry.
Anne has kind of said before, “Oh, maybe I’ll be a writer, maybe I’ll be a bride, maybe I’ll be all these things,” and she’s not sure yet. She sees this opportunity come up with Jerry when he says that he can’t read and write. Anne realizes how much he’s missing out on in the world and how much of a beautiful experience that could be for him to learn and understand. Anne doesn’t really read into it too much, but we definitely see her delve into it a little bit later in the season, which is gonna be very interesting. It gives Anne and Jerry’s friendship time to bloom.
While Marilla and Matthew are helping Anne learn how to be part of a home and a family, she’s also helping them reconnect with their younger selves.
In the Cuthbert family, they’re all learning from one another. [Matthew and Marilla] have been very shut down for a number of years. Anne has her imagination and she’s always dreamed of this family, but she never actually thought she would experience it. That’s what she’s going through, and she’s bringing this huge spark to Matthew and Marilla. They’re learning how to be parents, and learning how to be a child because that comes along with parenting. Of course, it brings up memories for Matthew and Marilla, which is really lovely to delve into for their characters. We learn a little bit more about their past and why they are the way they are now, which I think is definitely necessary. We needed a little more backstory on them, and we see how Anne has connected with moments in their past and brought it out of them.
There is also an immediate threat to Avonlea with the boarders staying at Green Gables, which was teased toward the end of Season 1.
The audience obviously knows a little bit more than what the Cuthberts are aware of. We’ve seen them beat up Jerry, and Jerry’s at Green Gables. It’s an interesting exploration that we go into with them and, and how their dynamic completely turns Green Gables upside down. It changes everyone’s moods and experiences and how they’re feeling. It’s an interesting storyline with those men.
One of the two men also brings back some of Anne’s more unpleasant memories.
We know already that Anne has her coping mechanisms. She has a way of turning the darkest, most horrible situations and looking at them in the most beautiful light, and finding a way to fight through it because that’s really been her only option. That’s all that she could do to survive for her whole life. In a [flashback] scene, she’s being tortured, and then all of a sudden something happens and she realizes that it might not be quite so bad after all. She discovers this light at the end of the tunnel that brings out so many more of her characteristics.
One of the most pivotal moments from the books comes to life this season: the hair dye incident. Can you share a bit about filming that scene?
It’s a good life lesson for her. The poor, poor thing goes through so much torment everyday and ends up making it worse for herself even though she thought it would be better. It’s a great lesson for young people when you’re going through a time where you want to change so many things about your appearance. You’re feeling insecure, there’s something wrong, and there’s something that you can change so you want to do that. Maybe it’s not the best decision. Maybe you were perfectly fine the way you were.
Filming that scene was so much fun. I was absolutely bawling my eyes out, and I had this long monologue to spiel. It was honestly funny. It’s a funny scene because you feel so bad for her, but at the same time you’re kind of like, “Well, what did you expect?”
Eventually, Anne and Gilbert fall in love, but the series hasn’t reached that point yet. In fact, the season begins with Gilbert on an adventure far from Avonlea. What can you share about their eventual reunion?
When we begin the season, Gilbert’s been gone for a good couple of months, and people are saying that he might never come back. It’s a confusing time for both Anne and Gilbert, but they’ve experienced so many different stories and adventures. Eventually, their dynamic will shift, but right now they’re 14. They still have the competitive sparks within them, and they’re figuring out what they want to do with their lives. They’re still kids, but they have a beautiful chemistry. They connect as kindred spirits, and everybody can see that except Anne herself. They get to share their stories with one another when they [are reunited]. It’s going to be really sweet.
How has playing Anne changed your life and helped your career to evolve?
I started playing Anne when I was 14. I’m 16 now and I’ll be 17 when we shoot Season 3. My whole teenagehood has been spent with Anne. It really feels like I’ve incorporated so many parts of her personality into my own because I have this massive admiration for her. She’s had such a big impact on my life. Playing her has been such a humbling experience. She’s such a fiery, feisty, beautiful, sensational character. I still can’t believe that I have this opportunity to play her. When I started, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was a kid. I hadn’t done a lot of acting before and I was flung in at the deep end and went for it. I’ve learned so much as an actor and as a human being. I’m so excited to play her at 16. I think that’s going to be such a beautiful age. I’m at that age now, so I know how confusing it can be.
Any final thoughts for Canadian fans?
I hope everyone enjoys Season 2. There’s a lot to look forward to — lots of conversations, lots of tragical romance, lots of emotions. I hope [viewers] enjoy watching it as much as we loved creating it.
Photos Courtesy of Netflix