Melissa Barrera wanted to do something physical and she got her wish.
Created by Martin Gero and Brendan Gall, limited edition keep breathing centers on a successful New York lawyer whose important trip is derailed when her plane crashes in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Stranded alone, she must figure out how to survive the elements. “I love seeing strong women portrayed on screen and at the epicenter of the story, but I also love that she’s so broken,” Barrera says of her character Liv, who is forced to shed her professional armor and reveal herself when she’s all alone. Watch the trailer below for an exclusive look at Liv’s perilous ordeal.
Liv may be brilliant, but she’s just as well equipped to handle the wilderness as the next person. “She knows how to solve problems, but she doesn’t know much about surviving in the wild,” says Barrera. This relatability puts viewers in this dire situation with her, which was integral to how the show was shot – Barrera was filmed while groping how she might try to build a shelter to find food. “These moments are super real because they allow me to live and do what I thought the character would do in that moment,” she says.
Shooting keep breathing was a welcome but grueling challenge for Barrera. “This show was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she says. Every day she toured for 12 to 14 hours with the crew in the middle of the woods. Barrera did the heavy lifting during those days, as she had no scene partners for most of the wilderness scenes. To prepare for the show, she also got a scuba certification and learned to be on wires for freefall stunts. It was tough, but Barrera loved the month she spent training, calling it a lot of fun.
The body of water viewers see on the show is a glacial lake that was frozen over up to two weeks before filming began, so she also had to undergo cold water training. “[Filming in the lake] was a huge challenge, because you can’t breathe because the water is so cold, so you’re trying to act and tell a story, but you’re also worried about yourself,” she explains. When asked which was scarier, facing off with Ghostface or surviving the elements, the Scream star chose the desert. “One of my biggest fears in life is drowning,” she says. “It’s the most scared I’ve ever had, but also the most proud of me for accomplishing it.”
keep breathing is about Liv overcoming physical and emotional challenges. While the immediate concern is to survive, time alone forces him to think. “It’s more of an emotional journey of looking for answers to a lot of the traumas of her childhood, so the fact that she’s stranded alone in the middle of the forest and how she survives is a nice metaphor for what’s going on in the inside of her,” Barrera says. .
It’s important to remember that Liv is adamant about her destination, but what exactly kicks off her journey is a mystery. “She feels very lost and is looking for answers because she is at a turning point in her life,” Barrera teases. You’ll eventually find out where she’s headed and who she wants to see, but first she has to get out of the wilderness.
keep breathing premieres July 28 on Netflix.
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