Matilda Grey is introduced as a professional cellist, but by the end of Requiem's first episode, it's clear that she may not be playing cello again for a while. Matilda's interests in the BBC and Netflix series turn from music to unraveling a mystery that connects her mother with the disappearance of a young girl in 1994. Requiem's Matilda Grey is not a real person, but the making of the show reportedly got pretty real — and at one point very creepy — for the actor portraying the character, Lydia Wilson.
Wilson, previously seen as Princess Susannah in Black Mirror episode "The National Anthem" and as Kalara in Star Trek Beyond, told the BBC she views Matilda as someone who is incomplete. "She has a big hole in her chest. Something huge is missing from her life," Wilson explains. " I worked with the image of there being a breezeblock missing from the middle of her."
Matilda is a character who is in a fragile state when the audience meets her, then seems to fall victim to worse and worse circumstances as the show goes on. Spoilers ahead. What begins as a mystery to discover the truth about her mother leads to her studying the practices of the occult — even the prospect of speaking to angels. Wilson's performance will have an effect on how viewers see Matilda's journey, but it seems that playing Matilda has also had an effect on Wilson.
Wilson described Grey in the same interview as someone who is very vulnerable, with "thin skin," and who is beholden to a mystery that gets more confusing with every episode. "She doesn’t know who she is, and that has taken off a layer of her skin and put her at the mercy of the world. I didn’t realize that until I had a week off in the middle of filming," the actor said. "During that week, when I wasn’t so vulnerable, I remember thinking, 'Why am I crying?'" It's no unusual for actors to be influenced by their characters. The more surprising aspect of Wilson's time working on Requiem is that she found herself in the middle of a what could be a real-life ghost story.
Express reported that in a discussion with various press outlets, Wilson remembered a strange occurrence in her own home. "I woke up with sand in my bed in the shape of an angel," she said. That could be written off as a prank, but other members of the cast and crew insisted that there was no clear explanation for how the sand got to Wilson's bed. And she herself tried to determine if there was a reasonable cause for the vision. "I did all of these experiments in my apartment, like trying to see if it was like the inside of a vitamin," the actor went on to say. "It was really weird."
As weird as it is, there's no indication that Wilson's sand angel was anything more than a weird happenstance. And Wilson did not explain whether she thought it was a coincidence or considered it to be closer to the mysterious, paranormal events of Requiem.
The sand story feels especially creepy given that Wilson had been working on a television show that directly deals with similar types of supernatural occurrences. Wilson revealed to The Telegraph that her consideration of the idea of demons did not begin with Requiem. Wilson shared that during her childhood, she would perform rituals to protect herself from them. "I had to make sure that when I said goodnight to [my stuffed toys] I was looking at their eyes because if they flashed red when I was saying it then the darkness would go inside me," the actor said.
This is more of an example of an active childhood imagination than a genuine belief in demons, but it shows that Wilson has has a long-time curiosity about the very world that Matilda Grey finds herself in during the first season of Requiem.