Living in Canada for the last two years, my British housemate and I were delighted when we happened upon a lovely costume drama with which to soothe our homesickness.
Imagine our mortification upon the discovery that the main character in Mr. Selfridge was played by an American! Ari Gold himself was taking over our lovely, snuggly costume dramas. We needn’t have worried too much, however, as we found Mr. Selfridge to be a perfect Sunday afternoon drama that managed to be warm and comforting while also telling a damn good story in an innovative way – unlike its cousin, the largely vapid Downton Abbey.
Fans and soon-to-be fans will be glad to hear the the second series returns this Sunday, January 19th and with it come some fresh faces. We caught up with newbie Amy Morgan to talk about her character Grace Calthorpe, her background in theatre and the joys of corset-wearing.
Congratulations on the Mr. Selfridge role Amy! Tell us a bit about how you got your start in showbiz.
Thanks very much! Well I guess my story isn’t that starry or anything, but I basically got into Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, got an agent and then didn’t really work much for about a year! Then I got my first theatre job which started the ball rolling for me. I suppose the job that changed the path of my career was the first job I did at the Donmar Warehouse called Inadmissible Evidence. The Donmar has such a fantastic reputation that everyone goes to see things there! So I got some great exposure from that job.
Can you give us a sneak peek as to what we can expect from your character on Mr Selfridge this season?
Well! I play Grace Calthorpe who works on accessories under Miss Mardle (played by Amanda Abbington). Grace is very ambitious but very kind-hearted and generous with her time. She’s best friends with Jessie who works on cosmetics and they love a good gossip together! She also becomes very good friends with Gordon Selfridge (Mr Selfridges’ son). And that’s all I can say! Ha!
Do you like getting dressed up in period costume – or is it a bit long-winded to face at 6 in the morning?
I’ll be honest, I’ve done a lot of period dramas now so wearing a corset for 13 hours a day can wear a bit thin! But after the first week or two, you forget about it and just get on with it. As long as you make as much space as you can by pushing your ribs out in the corset fitting, you’ll always leave enough room for breathing and lunch! Top tip there! Oh, the glamour. Ha!
‘Once A Catholic’ has been a big hit in theatreland this season – what’s it been like working with Kathy Burke and co?
Oh it’s been brilliant, such good fun! We’ve been sold out every night so playing to a full audience with a raucous comedy like Once a Catholic has been amazing. Kathy is just brilliant. She’s one of my favourite actresses, so I couldn’t believe it when my agent called to say I’d got the job! Very surreal. She made the whole rehearsal period so enjoyable and stress free. Love her!
Which do you prefer: movies, TV or stage?
Ooh that’s always so tough because when you’re doing theatre, you’re always thinking, ‘Oh I’d love a telly job after this!’ And when you’re doing telly you’re gasping for some theatre! Grass is always greener! It’s nice to have a variety of all three ideally. My heart is probably in the theatre though.
In an ideal world, who’s career would you like to emulate? Who inspired you in the first place and who do you look up to today?
In an ideal world, probably Judi Dench. Her roots are in theatre but she’s managed to become equally successful in all areas of acting. She’s having such a long successful career and she’s also managed to have a family and to keep her private life out of the public eye. She’s very inspirational. I also did a play with Olivia Colman a year ago whom I love, and she inspires me every time I see her. She’s also managed to have a wildly successful career and have a wonderful family life too.
I’m also totally in love with Lesley Manville. I remember seeing her in a Mike Leigh film on TV when I was a teenager and just thinking, ‘God she’s good. She’s really good…!’ And then I was sat next to her at the Ian Charleson awards last year! I couldn’t even get my words out properly at first! She was wonderful to me that day. Very warm and kind and so supportive. All brilliant, funny, amazing women.
We’re all about promoting emerging talent here at Spindle – who are your Ones To Watch for 2014?
Ooh well I would say Phoebe Waller-Bridge who was also in HayFever with me and Olivia. She’s simply wonderful. She can act, write, direct, do stand up – pretty sure she can do anything actually! She won a fringe first up in Edinburgh for her one woman show ‘Fleabag’, which then had a sold out run at the Soho Theatre. She’s amazing! Similarly, Jessica Knappett is as impressive! She’s managed to write and star in her own comedy, Drifters for E4 which is bloody hilarious! Very funny ladies!
Thanks Amy! Mr. Selfridge returns Sunday January 19th at 9pm.
Words: Thomas Dearnley-Davison
Photographer: Joseph Sinclair
Hair and Makeup: Nibras using MAC
Mr Selfridge Image: ITV