Hayley Atwell plays Margaret Schlegel in BBC One’s new adaptation of Howards End. She talks corsets with Georgia Humphreys
It’s been nearly 25 years since Emma Thompson won an Oscar for the role of Margaret Schlegel in film Howards End. And now it’s Hayley Atwell’s turn to take on the pioneering character in a new, four-part BBC mini-series.
EM Forster’s 1910 novel follows three families in its exploration of turn-of-the-century England: the intellectual and idealistic Schlegels, the wealthy business-focused Wilcoxes and the working-class Basts.
But any pressure Atwell felt about starring in the TV adaptation of such a beloved story was quashed when the 35-year-old actress spoke to Thompson ahead of filming.
“She (Thompson) played my mum years ago and she is a mentor and a friend,” reveals Atwell (the pair worked together on the 2008 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited). “And she said, ‘Don’t watch the film. You are she and she is you; never do that, that’s just rule number one’.”
The period drama is certainly a change in direction for London-born Atwell, whose career has undeniably been shaped by action-adventure roles across the pond.
After first portraying Marvel’s Agent Peggy Carter in 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger, cinematic successes such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man followed.
With two seasons of leading the cast in Marvel TV series Agent Carter on ABC also under her belt, Atwell is known by fans the world over for her ass-kicking role.
But she seems to have settled in just fine to the rather juxtaposed, corset-wearing world of Howards End.
“One of the things Hettie (Macdonald, Howards End director) was saying at the beginning, which has been really helpful, is we don’t want to be in costumes that wear us,” discloses Atwell while on set in Harrow in London, where they’re filming an important concert scene. Read More