Interview with New Worlds' Alice Englert
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Alice Englert is best known to British audiences for her role as Lena Duchannes in the Hollywood film Beautiful Creatures and for her co-lead role in Sally Potter’s acclaimed film Ginger & Rosa. As the daughter of New Zealand-born film director Jane Campion, Alice has been emerged in the film world from a young age. Last year she starred in British horror film In Fear and later this year she will be on British TV screens again in the BBC historical drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
You play Hope in New Worlds, can you tell us a bit about how you saw her character.
For me Hope Russell is the original young American. Her world is divided by what is right and wrong, good and bad, a simplicity that has always been prevalent in the American dream and American culture. Young, idealistic, fierce and vengeful, she lives on the fringes of the new world. But as her story progresses, Hopes realises the old world is inexplicably intertwined with new and she must navigate the complexity of being a child of a country where too much blood has been shed on both sides to ever be the dream it aspires to be.
Do you think young audiences today will relate to Hope and the themes of New Worlds?
Yes I think so. I love period pieces because there is an escapist quality to them and while you can feel faraway from what your seeing I think that space can pull you closer to the core of human weirdness.
Did you do much research into the period? And how did you get into a 17thC woman's mindset - was it hard?
I always approach a role from an emotional point of view so I start with more basic questions like "how does she feel about her parents?" I was very interested in what the brutal nature of the time would mean to how someone lived their life. I was reading Wolf Hall and watching The Devil’s Whore when I got the role and found both very informing. Despite being set in different periods, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies both capture the fleeting nature of life and The Devil’s Whore shows the lengths people went to for their passions.
Your story is based in New England - do you think it will be surprising to audiences to find out more about this part of American history?
I don't think what we are telling is unknown maybe only ignored.
What did you enjoy most about the filming?
I loved Romania where we shot much of the first episode. We were so high in the mountains it was hard to breathe at times.
What did you find hardest about filming?
My knees! Hope’s much more physically adept than me...
You have just finished filming Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for BBC2 which is set in England in the 19th C around the time of the Napoleonic Wars - has it been interesting to be examining two such different periods of British history and are you particularly drawn to period drama?
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was a blast. It's period fantasy, slightly reminiscent of The Master and Margarita in its magic, dark, funny and clever storytelling. I really enjoy period work but don't have a preference for it.
Having grown up in Australia and being around so much film with your mother and father - how have you found the experience of work in British TV? What is your opinion of British TV? And how has your background informed your acting?
The UK catering isn't to die for haha….no, it's great as long as there are potatoes I'm fine! I think it's impossible to say to what degree my background has influenced me but I'm happy to think I have taken some instruction from my parents cause they are damn smart.
New Worlds will broadcast on Tuesday 1st April, 9pm, Channel 4.