Exclusive: Joe Tippett & Elisa Lasowski on the Bureaucracy of Monarch Agents in the MonsterVerse

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters ended its epic run this week as the first live-action series in the excellent MonsterVerse, and it was a surprisingly heavy, multilayered drama with many great characters. Two of our favorites began the show as mysterious members of the organization who could've easily been seen as villains, but progressed to become complicated and fun supporting characters in the modern-day Monarch storyline — Tim and Duvall, played by Joe Tippett and Elisa Lasowski, respectively. We spoke with the two actors about their characters and how they navigated the bureaucracy that is Monarch.

Tim and Duvall's Relationship in and with Monarch

MovieWeb: You both play these initially secretive characters who we want to know more about. How did you approach them while still making them enigmatic?

Elisa Lasowski: To make them less enigmatic would be to sort of diminish them in some ways. I suppose the fact that they are both of them kind of mysterious in their own way is part of what makes them interesting. All of these characters within the world are trying to sort of survive and have different ways of thinking about it and of going about it.

Joe Tippett: Yeah, I think as the show goes on, I think it'd be fun for people to go back and watch it, and perhaps things will seem less enigmatic. Because as time goes on, things are revealed. Really, people just have different agendas that need to unfold over the top of the story. So I think it's sort of fun that, in the once a week paradigm, that little bread crumbs are getting dropped for where we're going.

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MW: It almost seems like your characters are fighting to make meaning of the bureaucracy here.

Joe Tippett: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a show that's very anti-bureaucracy. I think it's like the sort of thing where organizations with good intentions, once they get too big and too bloated, the mission can get lost and all of that. And so, I don't want to give away too much, but I think that you're correct to pick up on that. It's definitely making things harder for people to see the goal, to keep their eye on the ball a little bit.

Elisa Lasowski: Yeah, and again, without revealing too much, I guess each character has their own motives for being brought to the cause, whatever shape that takes and wherever that takes them.

MW: Tim and Duvall work really well together and kind of complete each other in different ways. How much of that was just on the page, and how much of a rapport did you two develop together?

Elisa Lasowski: I mean, I think it was on the page for sure that they're complementary in some ways, and they make a good team. Both of them are kind of their own agents in a way and I think they sort of root each other on, they cheer each other up, like they believe in each other. Maybe because they have a slightly different approach, which is not the bureaucratic way to kind of go about it, and that's what makes them work well together. I'd say a lot of it was on the page. And then, as with any sort of on-screen relationship, Joe and I connected as two actors and we sort of have our own way of working together. And, you know, thankfully, it created a good team.

Joe Tippett: Yeah, I think he sort of softens her sharp edges a bit, and she sort of toughens up Tim in places where he can stand to step into himself a little bit more. And I think they're both a bit disenchanted with Monarch. I think that's somewhat where they bond. What these two characters are striving for seems to overlap a little bit even though their skill set is very opposite and at the same time complementary.

The Meaning of Godzilla and Monarch Today

MW: Godzilla has all these different meanings throughout history. How do you see the monster functioning in Monarch and why do you think it's survived in the cultural consciousness for 70 years?

Elisa Lasowski: Yeah, Godzilla, when it was first created, like you said, it was within some type of political moment, let's say, and throughout the years, it's taken different shapes and forms, and it can be an allegory for the different things that are happening, and it represents different things. It's also sometimes the enemy of humankind. Sometimes it's the friend. I think that's what makes it a super interesting character, that it can indeed sort of represent these different issues and different times.

MW: Monarch kind of feels like an apt metaphor for the government or the military in general today. Does Monarch have a particular allegorical significance for you, like Godzilla does?

Joe Tippett: Yeah, I think it's sort of when these organizations with massive resources are trying to protect themselves, rather than the mission that they're there for in the first place, that they can get lost, because it becomes about protecting the organization rather than the people that they're tasked with. Because of the secrecy of Monarch, it feels like it's important for people to not really know Monarch exists, but now that G-Day has happened, like, the cat's out of the bag a little bit. And now they're at this sort of fork where Monarch needs to come out of the shadows to say like there is an organization that can protect you.

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