‘Black Narcissus’ stars Gemma Arterton and Aisling Franciosi on nun thriller

FX’s psychological thriller “Black Narcissus” follows nuns on a remote mountain top in the Himalayas — and the journey was literal for the cast members.

“We went to Nepal for the first two weeks of the shoot. We were all staying together in this lodge-type thing. There was no Wifi or 3G,” says series star Gemma Arterton, 34 (“Quantum of Solace”). ” he evenings were spent just sitting around a table chatting and playing games and getting to know each other. So we had this amazing bonding experience.”

“What usually happens when you’re on location and all staying in a hotel or whatever is that people wrap and go back to their room and call their loved ones or watch a movie,” she says. “But we didn’t have that. It was a blessing in disguise. As much as we were freaking out like, ‘We can’t e-mail, I can’t get in touch with my husband!’ It was actually lovely, because we were in this little bubble.”

Premiering Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. on FX (and Nov. 24 on Hulu), “Black Narcissus” is a three-episode miniseries based on a 1939 novel of the same name (that was also adapted into a 1947 film). Set in 1934 during the latter years of the British rule in India, the historical drama follows the ambitious young nun Sister Clodagh (Arterton), who sets off to establish a mission on a remote clifftop palace with a mysterious and sordid past that’s known by locals as the “House of Women.” It was donated by General Toda Rai (Kulvinder Ghir ), who hopes the Sisters of St. Faith can clear it of tragic memories connected to his late sister.

Soon, Sister Clodagh clashes with their English-speaking contact on the project, British war vet Mr. Dean (Alessandro Nivola), and the isolation begins taking a toll on everyone — particularly Sister Ruth (Aisling Franciosi, best known as Jon Snow’s mom in”Game of Thrones).

“Sister Clodagh is a very conflicted person who’s struggling to maintain control,” says Arterton. “She has conflicts within and then is offered so many more when she gets to the palace — Sister Ruth being one of them, and Mr. Dean. She has a lot of things coming at her that she has to manage. I thought, ‘Great, I’d love to delve into that.’ ”

Before long, tensions rise between Sister Clodagh and Sister Ruth.

“The scenes that Gemma and I had together were some of my favorites to do,” says Franciosi, 27. “Because it was just two women struggling with their own demons and face to face with these power struggles in this confined space.

“Just being in the middle of absolutely nowhere and being so isolated was helpful for the narrative of the story,” she says. “They become overwhelmed by the beauty and the expanse of the place. And for me personally, I find that if I look into space for too long or if I find myself in a huge expanse of beauty with nothing else around, I’m like, ‘Oh god, I’m pretty insignificant!’

“It helped to bring that element to Sister Ruth in the isolation she would have felt both in the place itself and within the order.”

The nuns all answer to the no-nonsense Mother Dorothea (Diana Rigg); the miniseries marks one of Rigg’s final roles before her death in September at age 82 (a title card onscreen dedicates “Black Narcissus” to her memory).

“We were so lucky to work with her and it was so recent as well — we shot with her in November, this time last year,” says Arterton.

“She was just exactly what you would expect. She was naughty and incredibly upfront and intelligent. Perfect for this role, as well.”

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