Taking on the role of Katharine Gun in Official Secrets isn’t the first time I have played a real-life person. I think the way it affects your approach to the role is that only so much of the character can be down to interpretation. With a fictional character, there is more scope to put your own spin on it – but when you are talking about somebody [who] lived or is currently alive, you want to make sure you get it as accurate as possible.
This is the story of a woman who has achieved something incredible, and the characters of strong women are always of interest for me.
[My co-star] Ralph Fiennes is just a fantastic actor – and it’s always a great experience to work with him as he is such a supportive person. Working with talented actors is obviously something you want to do, but it’s equally important to work with those who support you and who you feel comfortable around.
There was never anything else [I wanted to do besides acting] – my parents are both actors, so growing up I wanted to be a part of that world. I knew that it wasn’t a secure profession; that you could be unemployed for long periods of time, and if you had five years of constant work then you were considered extremely fortunate. With all that in mind, there was still nothing else I wanted to do.
[When it comes to inspiring co-stars], I have had the privilege to work with Dame Judi Dench. Not only is she an incredible actress and British icon, she is also a fantastic person. Working with Sally Hawkins [on 2010’s Never Let Me Go] was great as well.
It wasn’t a case of wanting a break [when I took time off at 22]. It was a case of needing one. If I hadn’t taken it, I would have probably had to walk away from the industry altogether, and that wasn’t something I wanted.
It’s everybody’s responsibility [to use their platform to raise awareness about social justice issues]. I first realised I was a feminist when I was 12 years old. I was quite sporty, and I realised sport wasn’t an option [for women] as a career unless you were really good at tennis, which I wasn’t. Sure, being in the public eye gives you a bigger platform – but if we want to see change, we are all going to have to be passionate.
With sustainable tourism, I think that most of it is about education. We are probably all guilty of doing things we didn’t realise were not sustainable. But if hotels and airlines point out to customers more ways of being sustainable during their travel, I think that most people would be on board.
London is home, but it’s a place I love to film in as well. There is a real magic about shooting a movie in the city – an energy and experience you don’t get elsewhere.
Perhaps when some people think of England, they just think of London, but we really have so much more to offer. Leeds is a great city, for example, and Yorkshire has some beautiful views – we even filmed parts of Official Secrets in West Yorkshire.
I completely fail to keep myself on an even keel with my skincare when travelling, but I have just discovered rosehip oil. Flights are so hard on your skin and they make it so dry, so I gave this a go and it really worked. Now I always travel with it.
This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine