What is I Am Ruth about?
I Am Ruth is a fictional story about a mother and daughter who are really struggling to navigate all of the tricky and complicated things that arise during adolescence, during the end of the teenage years which can be so challenging. I remember being at school and being around all of my friends who were all experiencing varying degrees of complicated feelings and emotions, and really some challenging things. And so the story is essentially a mother and daughter trying to overcome those challenges together.
Can you tell us about the character of Freya?
Freya is not a real person. She is kind of an amalgamation of the tricky experiences that teenagers have to navigate in this day in age. When we first meet her she seems quite average, just a bit annoyed at a lot of things. Then, progressively as the story unfolds, we realise that it’s not quite that simple. It has been quite fun actually, to unwrap her character.
Ruth, Freya’s mother, is played by Kate Winslet, who is also your real-life mum. Have you worked with your mum before or was this the first time?
This was the first time that we have ever worked together. She has been my mum for 21 years but we’ve never worked together and it was really fun actually. It was really good fun and really enjoyable.
Were there any moments you forgot you were acting because you were working with your mum?
Because of the nature of the type of project, there is no dialogue to have as a base to work from, so a lot of what was being created was completely based on what the other was putting out. The fact that she is actually my mother, I feel that really helped in a way because the chemistry, the connection, the emotional bond between us as a mother and daughter who are very close to each other, was already there.
What was the process like working with BAFTA-winning filmmaker Dominic Savage, who has created and directed I Am?
Extremely unique. I’m still extremely new to this industry and I feel so grateful any time I get an opportunity to do any work at all. To then be presented with this type of opportunity to really be part of the creative process and to be able to talk so freely and openly about creative ideas, thoughts or opinions has been really fantastic. It was an extremely interesting dynamic to work around.
So in this process, there’s a script but there’s no dialogue. Can you explain how that works with the improvisation?
The script has no dialogue. We were given a script of sorts, but it wasn’t so much a conventional script with Freya saying one line and Ruth saying the other. It was honestly more like reading a book. I genuinely felt like I was reading a story and it was extremely easy to imagine and conjure up what that could be like in your head. We didn’t really do any rehearsing because Dominic felt that it would be more authentic for us to get to the scene on the day and just see what happens.
Have you ever done improvisation before?
I’ve definitely not done any improvisation to this extent before. There have been times where I’ve ad libbed something or added in another word that maybe wasn’t there that I thought could work in that setting or that moment. I did improvisation in drama classes at school but I have never done anything like this before and it’s just been so amazing to work alongside someone like Dominic, who just wants to bring this kind of energy into this sort of project.
You’ve been on this three-week intense visceral experience with Dominic and the rest of the cast. What will you remember from this process?
What I’ll remember about this is how much I felt like I was just part of a team because everyone was really rallying around each other to get it done, to make it happen. It’s really funny, I do still feel like we’ve got loads of stuff to do because we’ve just powered through it all in a fifteen-day shoot which is not very long for a feature length project - it doesn’t feel like a very long time. But we did it, and I think we really felt like we all did it together - it’s been really amazing to feel that way.
What is Dominic like as a director?
Dominic as a director is very calm. He is a very calm, thoughtful man. The way he directed me, I could tell he really thought through what he was saying. I felt as though he was understanding the mutual passion we both had to make this feel as authentic and real as possible.