Une fois n'est pas coutume, il y a une interview de Sophie Rundle dans le Daily Mail
Peaky Blinders actress SOPHIE RUNDLE is about to star as a plucky English mail-order bride sent to wed an American pioneer for Sky 1’s gritty new period drama Jamestown. She reveals how she relishes being at the centre of the show from the team who brought us Downton
Sophie Rundle is posing cheerfully for the camera, lying on a patch of lawn in the grounds of a historic riverside house in Deptford, Southwest London. She gives a happy wave, ‘All good, down here,’ she laughs.
'I wanted to act from 11. I thought, "Great! I can earn a living from showing off,"’ says Sophie
Although she later confides that she isn’t entirely comfortable with the pomp and glamour of a magazine photo shoot – ‘I’m not a model and I’m not one of those racehorse-type Hollywood actresses’ – the camera loves her nonetheless. Every outfit looks just right on her, including a stylish leather jacket and gown. ‘What a lovely change,’ she says. ‘I normally dress like a 14-year-old boy.’
On screen, of course, it’s another story. The 29-year-old Rada-trained actress has climbed into both the clothes and the skin of a wide variety of characters. These include Ada Shelby in the popular BBC Two period gangster drama Peaky Blinders and Honoria Barbary in the BBC One series Dickensian.
Her CV brims, too, with roles that celebrate the extraordinary power of ordinary women. In the ITV series Brief Encounters she played Steph – a browbeaten mum-of-one who finds financial and sexual freedom after becoming an Ann Summers saleswoman – and in ITV’s The Bletchley Circle she was Lucy, part of a team of brilliant female Second World War code-breakers who become super-sleuths at the end of the conflict.
Her next role in the Sky 1 drama Jamestown is firmly in the same camp. Set in 1619, the eight-part series from the makers of Downton Abbey tells the story of three women – Alice (Sophie), Jocelyn (Naomi Battrick) and Verity (Niamh Walsh) – who play paid-for brides, shipped across the ocean from Britain to Virginia in the US, where they are to marry and produce children for the male settlers of America’s first English colony.
It’s a world of pig manure, mud and makeshift shacks in which the men have not clapped eyes on a woman for 12 years. ‘On the surface, it’s a male-dominated world,’ Sophie says. ‘But it’s the indestructibility of these incredible women that is the backbone of the drama.’
Here the actress opens up about life on and off screen…
Filming Jamestown in Budapest for six months felt like summer camp. There was a lovely cast of 16 actors and we got along so well. We sat on each other’s balconies drinking red wine and putting the world to rights. Now we’re in a WhatsApp group called the Jamestown Honeys.
God knows what those early settlers of Jamestown would make of America now
The Jamestown set was so convincing. It had been raining for a few days before we started filming and when we turned up we were knee-high in mud. There were pigs and goats everywhere, too, which meant the whole place smelled pretty ripe. It definitely helped us enter the Jamestown world immediately.
Alice, Jocelyn and Verity are the original mail-order brides. Women were shipped over to Jamestown and labelled ‘Maids to Make Wives’. It was as if their future husbands had gone through the equivalent of the Argos catalogue and paid for women to be delivered.
The idea of being among a boat-load of women pitching up to be greeted by a bunch of wild, sex-starved men is terrifying. Niamh, Naomi and I talked about what the brides would have gone through. Imagine embarking on a voyage, not even knowing if you’d make it to the other side of the Atlantic, or what might greet you if you did.
The women would have needed their feminine wiles… or they’d have been lost to the men. But these are amazing, strong women. They are from different walks of life, but have essential things in common: they are clever, quick, brave – and loyal to each other.
I’m fascinated by female relationships. I reject the myth that women are bitchy and competitive with one another. In my experience the absolute reverse is true – I love the women I am close to.
Loyalty, support and ‘the sisterhood’ are there in spades in Jamestown. The women bond instantly and look out for each other, just as the three of us did off set, too; now we are really close friends. There was none of that ‘she’s got nicer costumes, better lines’ nonsense. There again, I have never encountered that in my profession.
The three of us were carefully cast. It’s more than having a blonde (Jocelyn), a brunette (Alice) and a redhead (Verity): the characters are also totally different personalities. Alice’s strength is underpinned with gentleness; Verity is as feisty as her flame-coloured hair, and Jocelyn is cool and cunning. But all three are total survivors.
Who wants to be a pretty but soppy girl, waving a rose? That seems like an extremely dated projection of women to me. Give us female characters that reflect how extraordinary we are – not perfect, not invulnerable, but strong and three-dimensional just like Alice. She is the only kind of character I want to play.If I sound like a feminist, it’s deliberate.
People have been hesitant to use the word because of its connotations – bra-burning, man-hating – but there’s a movement to reclaim it. Feminism is about celebrating and embracing your feminine side. It’s about equality between the sexes. We should be loud and proud when we use the word.
Max Beesley plays Alice’s unfeeling prospective husband, Henry. It was a stretch for Max because in real life he’s such a big-hearted man and he was worried about playing such an unlikeable character. We had one tough scene in particular where afterwards he bought me a bottle of wine to apologise. A total gent!I knew I wanted to act from the age of 11.
I was cast in the lead role in my local drama club’s production of Alice in Wonderland. I thought, ‘Great! I can earn a living from prancing around and showing off.’ There was no looking back.
I had the happiest of childhoods at home and at school [Bournemouth Grammar School for Girls]. People talk about coming from privilege and l believe that I have – we didn’t have much money but we were given the gift of love and support by our parents, who told us there was nothing we couldn’t achieve. Now my eldest brother James is a writer and my younger brother Harry and I are both actors. The older I get, the more I appreciate that we had wonderful parents.I never felt out of place at Rada. There’s a myth that it’s a finishing school for posh actors, but that wasn’t my experience.
The problem is that if you’re not posh you might not have the confidence to apply for drama school. So, if the industry favours posh over working-class actors, this is probably where it starts.
Neither of my parents is in the entertainment business. My mum works for a company that distributes books to libraries and my dad is a business consultant. My grandfather, though, was a production manager in the glamour era of movies. Maybe my fascination with acting comes from hearing his stories about hanging out with the likes of Gregory Peck.
I’m drawn to people who are like my mum and dad. My mum is silly, fun and sassy. Physically, we are like two peas in a pod. We have a good giggle and she takes care of people – all qualities in my female friends, too. My dad is smart, talented and always there for me, which are the qualities I look for in men. He often pops in for coffee if he’s in London. I love the relationship that I have with my parents.My mum had a hard time when my character in BBC One’s Happy Valley, WPC Kirsten McAskill, was graphically run over and killed. How do you not think, ‘That’s my daughter’?
Other times I’ve played being pregnant, or had to wear a wedding dress and she’s like, ‘I shouldn’t be seeing these things yet.’My mum will enjoy Jamestown. It’s the next best thing to Downton Abbey, which she would have loved me to be in.
Jamestown is set on a different continent yet has things in common – the class hierarchy, the female characters trying to work out where they stand in the world, plus plenty of intrigue and great storylines. I’m sure that she’ll approve.
I reject the myth that women are bitchy and competitive with one another. In my experience the reverse is trueI love Penelope [Wilton] and have the biggest girl crush on her.
She was one of our gang of actresses in Brief Encounters [and played Isobel Crawley in Downton]. Penelope would tell us stories in that naughty, twinkly way of hers. She was hilarious about the vintage sex toys on the show [set in the early 1980s about four working-class women who find themselves empowered when they become Ann Summers party sellers]. She’d say, ‘Now Sophie, this one with the pump. What does it do?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, you know perfectly well what it does. Don’t make me tell you!’Mum loved Brief Encounters. It was her favourite
. She’d be asked by people, ‘What’s Sophie up to in next week’s episode?’ It must have been a bit like looking back at herself in that era because she would have been my character Steph’s age at that time. We used old photos of Mum to help create the character’s costumes and look.
I hanker after being close to the sea. I miss Bournemouth, although I’m very happy with my London life and couldn’t wait to be a city girl when I was growing up. The beach was the backdrop to my childhood where my brothers and I would play in the incredible open space in summer and winter. More and more I find myself calling my parents and saying, ‘I’m coming down this weekend.’
I would love to have children when the time is right. But even the most successful actresses are terrified that if you take a career break to have children you’ll fall off the radar. I want to be the best possible mother and to get the balance right. But no one ever says that it is easy.
It helps to be dating another actor (it’s early days, so don’t ask me who he is!). Actors understand that if you’ve spent a day shooting something really difficult or emotionally charged, you might need time to readjust at home. I remember one scene in Peaky Blinders where my character Ada was bundled into the back of a vehicle and had to fight to survive. We filmed it maybe 15 times. During each take my heart was pounding out of my chest and my body couldn’t understand that it wasn’t real.Peaky Blinders is a lot of fun. I’m practising the Brummie accent for the next series! It takes a while but once it clicks, it’s brilliant. The show is high drama and visually strong – exactly the sort of thing you dream of being part of when you think about going into acting.
I look young for my age. It’s an advantage because it means that I can play younger women or be made to look older with hair and make-up. It gives me more scope. Mind you, I am finding that the older I become the more interesting and nuanced the roles. So, hopefully, I’m not in danger of being typecast. I’ve been in meetings where the casting director has flicked through my CV and said, ‘Was that really you in that part?’
The image side of acting never occurred to me. When you’re doing school plays and loving it, you’re thinking about your lines and how they make you feel – not your looks. Fine, perhaps, if you’re as gorgeous as Keira Knightley or one of those actresses that look like they’re from another planet. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the movies and seeing beautiful girls in amazing dresses as much as anyone, but trying to be like an A-List Hollywood actress day to day – well, that way lies madness.
It is easy to exploit young actresses. It’s important to know your limits and to find the confidence to say ‘no thank you’, without worrying that you’re being difficult or demanding.
If I’m asked to appear nude or in a sex scene, it should be justified. There’s a time and place for it but let’s not take it for granted that the woman is going to be highly sexualised and the man not. It’s a valid conversation.
I might not cope in Jamestown. I love my own space and my creature comforts – and I’d miss my family. I don’t know that I’d bring any useful skills to the table. I’m an actress, for heaven’s sake – how is that going to help anyone?
God knows what those early settlers would make of America now. Filming Jamestown coincided with my brother, James, marrying in New York. During the celebrations I was on a boat in the harbour and was looking back on an incredible cityscape that no one could have dreamed of 400 years ago.
Maybe the settlers would have approved of Trump’s America. We need to pay more attention and stop living in a bubble of our own beliefs – reading papers that reflect our views, getting news from like-minded people on Twitter. If we opened our eyes, we’d see that not everyone in the world feels exactly as we do. That’s quite a wake-up call.
Jamestown starts on Friday 5 May at 9pm on Sky 1 and on Now TV
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-4424594/Why-Peaky-Blinders-Sophie-won-t-settle-second-best.html#ixzz4f4lADKJ6
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook