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Carnival Row's Jamie Harris Struggled With Sergeant Dombey's Racism

Racism is a blight upon humanity — the contempt some individuals feel toward others based on looks or culture is a poison that warps the mind and corrupts the heart. As bad as it can be in this world, in the universe of Amazon's "Carnival Row," racism is dialed up to a completely different level because there are different sentient species in the form of faeries, fauns, fan-dividing elves, and other fantastical creatures. Unfortunately, this means that hatred can spread like wildfire among not only humans but the other species as well. One of the greatest examples of human ignorance in "Carnival Row" is Sergeant Dombey (Jamie Harris), a law enforcement agent who despises faerie folk and all who sympathize with them.

However, it seems as if Harris had some issues with portraying the hateful Dombey. In an interview with India Today, Harris was asked if playing Dombey bothered him in real life, and he replied, "I had a lot of work to do on it. In Season 1, when I read the character, I went to a great acting coach and I spoke to her about it. I did have an issue. It was written quite simplistically, so I had a lot of background work to do. My acting coach advised me that it is really important for me to understand why my character was racist."

Harris tried to understand Dombey's motivations in order to portray the character

Jamie Harris continued, "I had to go into the history of the character, his family life, his moral life, his religious life and really understand what makes him who he is and that made the character fascinating. As Jamie Harris, I didn't agree with any of his views, but I tried to understand where his views came from. It helped me improvise." These words make it sound like Harris had to dive deeply into the mind of Dombey, which must have been taxing considering the beliefs and behavior of the character. Luckily, it sounds like Harris had plenty of support when it came to portraying the vicious Dombey, and the results are hard to deny — Dombey has a personality that is impossible to sympathize with, and he makes an effective foil for Philo (Orlando Bloom).

According to Human Rights Careers, racist behaviors are usually learned and often have their basis in greed, pseudo-science, discriminatory policies, media representation, and scapegoating. Most of these aspects are present in "Carnival Row," which makes sense as to why there are characters like Sergeant Dombey populating the gritty and magic-infused world. Still, Harris did a fine job of bringing Dombey to life, which is probably why the character played such an integral part in "Carnival Row."