How would you describe the show and your character?
The Great is a satirical view of Catherine’s experience moving to Russia and planning a coup to become Empress after she discovers that her marriage and the court was not all she hoped for. It’s about her growing up and understanding how she can change the world around her and use her voice. I play Peter, he’s a childlike emperor who runs the court like a big party, lacking empathy or a filter. He’s a real foodie.
What drew you to the script?
I love Tony’s writing, it’s unlike anything I’ve read. Sharp and witty with wonderful turns of phrase but also brilliant character development.
How much did you know about your character before filming and what research did you do?
Honestly not much, I’d maybe heard a rumour about Catherine and a horse. To prep for the character, I didn’t research the real Peter, I used the script more as my guide to what the character should be like. We’re not trying to be factual but tell a great story with this backdrop.
What are you most curious about regarding your character?
He’s obviously a product of his environment and emotionally scarred from his parents so it’s fun to examine that.
The script knowingly plays fast and loose with history – did that mean you approached your character differently than you normally might?
Yes, because I didn’t feel locked to trying to recreate an authentic version of Peter it meant I could be looser and have more fun with the role.
The series is set in Russia but is filmed in English. How did you hit upon the accent you went with?
The accent I went for is kind of based on a public schoolboy, quite clipped. I think Peter has a stream of conscious so talks quickly and doesn’t filter himself.
What was surprisingly difficult or challenging about inhabiting this role?
The fun thing is discovering more and more through Tony’s writing. The character has lots more depth and heart than originally appears so that’s a fun challenge.
The period costumes look terrific. What were your reactions to your costumes?
I love the costumes; they certainly help to inhabit the character. I especially like the skirt I got to wear.
The Great is a LOT of fun to watch. At the same time has a lot to say in a world still living in the fall out of #MeToo; would you agree?
Yes. It’s very much about female empowerment and holds a mirror up to a lot of things happening in the world today. But wrapped up in a fun historic setting.
Has any of Tony’s way of seeing the world crept into your daily life?
It’s made me appreciate food and quality cooking and flavour pairings more!
Do you have a favourite line of dialogue?
So many wonderful lines of dialogue I can’t remember them all, perhaps “Toosh” that Peter says to Catherine before getting corrected to “Touché”.
What are you most looking forward to in season two (of what you can share at this stage)?
I’m looking forward to seeing where the relationships go, the characters took so many unexpected turns in the first series I’m excited to see what’s next.
2020 has been quite a year; How would you describe your expectations for 2021?
Where to start!!! Try to be optimistic and hopefully we can take any positives from this year forward into 2021 to make it better?