Himesh Patel Had To 'Dig Deep' For One Of Station Eleven's Most Intense Scenes

The non-linear storytelling in "Station Eleven" makes for even more uneasy moments than your average story about a catastrophic global pandemic. Any scenes that take place before most of the world's population dies out carry an ominous weight to them. "Station Eleven," post-apocalyptic fiction, and recent world events all remind us that while the disease is scary, it is often our fellow humans who pose the greatest threat in these situations.

Among the more foreboding multi-episode storylines set in the early stages of the pandemic is the lockdown of young Kirsten (Matilda Lawler), Jeevan (Himesh Patel), and Frank (Nabhaan Rizwan) in Frank's Chicago loft apartment. While we watch them surviving under difficult circumstances, we do so with basically no hope. We know they end up separated, so we can only clutch the edge of our seats and wait for episode 7's climactic moment.

Though the groundwork for tragedy is laid throughout the series, the scene itself is packed with plenty of its own foreshadowing. We know time in Frank's apartment is running out as food stocks are depleted, and we understand Frank objects to leaving because he believes his hip injury will impede Jeevan from taking care of Kirsten.

As a final act before leaving, Frank and Jeevan agree to perform in Kirsten's "Station Eleven" stage adaptation in which Jeevan, as Dr. Eleven, must kill Captain Lonegran, played by Frank. Mid-scene, a stranger enters holding an intimidating knife and threatens the trio's lives if they do not leave. Frank, who is already skeptical of leaving and averse to sacrificing his home, refuses and dies for it. As fearful as the audience is made to be in the lead up to this moment, there's probably no one who was as nervous about it as actor Himesh Patel.

Digging deep

The series of events in episode 7 is emotional enough for the audience that you can only imagine how it affected the actors. Himesh Patel offered some insight in an August 2022 interview with Screen Rant. When asked about his hardest scene, Patel explained:

"There's that scene at the end of episode 7 where the intruder arrives in the apartment, and it all just sort of falls apart pretty quickly. I had to go to sort of an emotional place and track an emotional journey through a relatively short period of time there that I hadn't really ever done before."

It's no surprise how challenging the scene was for Patel. All within minutes, Jeevan experiences disappointment in Frank's reluctance to leave the apartment, the uncanniness of make-believe murdering his brother, and the reality of watching him die. Accordingly, it would take some work for Patel to crack the scene, and as he recounts:

"I was nervous about it and I remember I reached out to our director on that episode, Lucy Tcherniak, and I said, 'I'm a bit nervous, and just bear with me if I sort of struggle a bit with it,' and she was really wonderfully understanding of that and generous with how we were going to get through it. But I had to dig deep there and sort of take myself to an emotional place that I hadn't really had to do before."

Looking ahead

In retrospect, Patel found the experience to be rewarding, and we are all better off for him being able to perform the scene in a believable and impactful manner. In his final reflection on the scene, Patel concluded:

"I'm so thankful [for] that really because that's ultimately what you want to do, what I certainly want to do as an actor. Be challenged and step up to the plate and figure out what my limits are. I'm not really interested in being too comfortable in doing anything. I want to be tested. When you're gifted with a role like this, it's a leading role and you want to feel that you're working hard for it."

Patel was part of the ensemble cast of British soap opera "Eastenders" for years, and jumped to wider international fame with his starring role in Danny Boyle's hit romantic comedy film "Yesterday." But it's "Station Eleven" that has really given Patel the opportunity to prove himself in a serious, demanding lead role. Since this was only a limited series, we can look forward to seeing him taking on new projects — and new challenges as an actor — in the near future.