Black Mirror's Demon 79 stars talk period setting, outlandish costumes, and returning to the show after 7 years

Anjana Vasan as Nida in Black Mirror season 6 episode 'Demon 79'
(Image credit: Netflix)

There are only a handful of actors who have appeared in more than one episode of Black Mirror over the years; Hannah John-Kamen, Daniel Lapaine, and Michaela Coel to name a few. With season 6, Killing Eve's Anjana Vasan joins the exclusive group – and she couldn't be more thrilled to do so.

"I played 'Space Cop' in 'Nosedive' and... I made it, I made a Black Mirror episode, and I thought that was a real highlight for me so I was so completely surprised when I got to come back," Vasan tells GamesRadar+. "It was just a tape that they sent through to my agent, and asked me if I was up for it.

"I think there's a few actors who have done more than one episode of Black Mirror, but I forgot about that fact so I almost didn't put myself forward for it," she continues. "I thought, 'they're never going to give me this part, that would be crazy.' But I'm glad I did, yeah, it's just been an even better, even more exciting experience getting to do this episode because I just fell in love with the script."

Said script is the only one among the new chapter's five installments written by more than one person; creator Charlie Brooker and Ms. Marvel's Bisha K. Ali. Starring Vasan and I May Destroy You breakout star Paapa Essiedu, 'Demon 79' centers on Nida, an Indian-British shoe shop clerk whose quiet life is turned upside down when she accidentally frees a demon from an ancient talisman, and is instructed to kill three people by midnight or else the world will end. 

While the episode leans heavily into fantasy, distancing itself from Black Mirror's obsession with tech and branding itself a 'Red Mirror' production instead, it tackles real-world themes just the same. When Gaap first sets her the task, Nida daydreams about hurting Vicky, her rude and racist co-worker who plans on voting for the anti-immigration movement National Front, or the local creep who's believed to have strangled his wife to death. 

Black Mirror season 6 episode 'Demon 79'

(Image credit: Netflix)

In his attempts to encourage Nida to murder a trio of "innocents", Gaap allows her to look into the futures of certain individuals. Turns out, if David Shields' Conservative candidate Michael Smart goes on to win the election, many people will suffer. In wiping him out, Nida might just save the country from political ruin – in addition to an apocalyptic one... 

"It was cool to lean into something that is more simultaneous to the situation we're looking at contemporarily, from a remote perspective," Essiedu explains. "The '70s feels far enough away for it to be not now, but so far away that it feels completely separate from us. 

"We're still talking about the typical British political parties, we're talking about the same kind of campaign slogans and rhetoric," he says. "But also, we're nostalgically looking back to the days where you might have bought your shoes from one department store. There were not brands and stuff, you know?"

Set in the late 1970s, the only gadget or gizmo on display here – in rather un-Black Mirror fashion – is the TV Nida binge watches every night, which prompts Gaap, the demon, to model himself on her flamboyantly dressed on-screen crush, Bobby Farrell from Boney M.

"It influenced me in a such a big way, actually," Essiedu recalls of his costume. "We went through a lot of different options before we landed on the one that we did. From the start, it changed the way I used my hands, even. I had these long, black, claw-like nails, which were fun to put near Anjana's face to mess around with her. But yeah, the hair, the shoulder pads, the platforms? It gave me this real sense of size and power. It was cool.

Paapa Essiedu in Black Mirror season 6 episode 'Demon 79'

(Image credit: Netflix)

"There was this one day where I had to chase after Nida down an alleyway, near a canal, and I was trying to do it in these heels and I've never felt more at one with, you know, the girl that's fallen out of the club at two in the morning. Your boy was struggling, your boy was struggling in a big way," he laughs.

"They were something else," Vasan jokes of her own, admittedly duller looks in the episode. "I remember how amazing the shoe department was when I walked onto set and I just blended into the background like a wallflower.

"There were so many shades of brown going on, I didn't know they could put that many shades of brown onto a set but they managed to," Vasan goes on, before referencing the coat Nida starts wearing as she gets more confident and comfortable with the bloodshed. "But I think it makes the red leather jacket more meaningful and exciting, because it's just this explosive pop of color that enters her world." Just with Vasan's Black Mirror journey, there's always time for a reinvention.

Black Mirror season 6 is streaming now. For more on the show, check out our interviews with creator Charlie Brooker as well as fellow stars Josh Hartnett and Kate Mara.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.