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‘Anne With an E’ Boss Explains the Story Behind That Foxy New Scene-Stealer

Moira Walley-Beckett discusses bringing nature to the forefront on Netflix's drama this season.

Riggs the Fox, "Anne with an E"

Netflix

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from Season 2 of “Anne With an E,” including the finale.]

“Anne With an E,” Moira Walley-Beckett’s take on the classic Canadian children’s tale “Anne of Green Gables,” had already diverged from the source material, and that means adding characters to expand the world beyond the pages. On the Netflix series, which recently debuted its second season, this helps to reflect the real, historical world it inhabits.

The beauty of Prince Edward Island has always been integral to the story of orphan Anne Shirley Cuthbert (Amybeth McNulty) because she had two escapes from her life of loneliness, drudgery, and abuse: reading and nature. For much of her childhood, her only companions were the plants and animals she spoke to as if they were friends. In Season 2, “Anne With an E” adds a new character, a red fox with a black tail, who gives Anne her first animal that she has an ongoing relationship with after selling the horse in Season 1. A fox can also be seen in the first image of the main title sequence.

“Oh my god, what a challenge, but I was determined [to have a fox],” Walley-Beckett told IndieWire. “My live producer, that fox was the bane of his existence. It was a wild animal that we were training to do this. Riggs. I don’t know why that’s his name, but that’s his name.”

Initially, Anne encounters the fox outside of her secret hideout where she and her friends create art. He appears to come around the most when she’s alone, and true to form, she begins to confide in him.

Riggs the Fox, "Anne with an E"

“He’s kind of her spirit animal,” said Walley-Beckett. “I consider them to be really kind of similar beings, and yes to really bring her connection with nature, to realize it in a way that it’s conversant. She could sort of use him as a sounding board on occasion, just to sort of crystallize her thoughts or share her thoughts.

“She [commiserates] with the fox at one point: ‘Do you get twitted about your hair too, the color of your hair?’ But they’re both always alone,” she said. “But also, the characteristics of a fox are so much like Anne. They’re both incredibly inquisitive and self-sufficient.”

Beyond just having the fox reflect Anne, he also had his own storyline in which he’s apparently been terrorizing the local chickens. This prompts Billy Andrews (Christian Martyn) to vow to shoot him and Matthew (R.H. Thomson) to set a trap for him. His peril comes to a head during one of the most stressful times for Anne, but she is still moved to try and save him and influences Matthew also.

“I really wanted to introduce him this season, judiciously, and then put him in jeopardy, and have an arc for his character as well,” she said.

Whether or not his story will continue hasn’t been decided yet, but in speaking about the shift to romance in Season 3, Walley-Beckett added, “It might be kind of neat if the fox fell in love.”

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