November 8th, 2018   Author: admin   Interviews

Stage and screen star Hayley Atwell is currently playing two lead roles a night in Measure for Measure at the Donmar Warehouse. She tells Nick Clark about how the production responded to contemporary gender politics, reveals the Shakespeare villain she’s longing to play and explains why pranking her co-stars keeps her performances fresh

Sitting in the offices of the Donmar Warehouse, where she is starring in Measure for Measure, Hayley Atwell starts talking, tentatively at first, about her plans. She pauses and rocks back in her chair. “Okay”, she smiles. “I guess we can put this out in the world…”

A look at Atwell’s career shows a restlessness and desire not to make the obvious choices. And, after working on a TV drama last year where everything changed for her, she has been thinking long and hard about doing something a bit different. “It occurs to me that I’ve been thinking about creating my own work, or directing something or producing something,” she says. “I would like to start my own production company.”

The idea is not yet fully formed – she jokes about the name: “Pig About Town. No, Kid About Town. Something lighthearted” – but she is serious about looking for projects, whether on film, television or in theatre, and not just to act in. She also reveals she has been writing. What has emerged over the course of our conversation is someone who thinks about the roles she chooses and the issues surrounding them. This is no different.

“I want original material, or to adapt books, with strong nuanced narratives of all different types of genre, collaborating with like-minded people. I think I have the experience and the skillset to know my own mind and trust what I can do, but I also want to collaborate with people.” She stops and laughs: “It feels as though I’m auditioning for you.”

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April 4th, 2018   Author: admin   Howards End - Interviews

The British actress said the 117-year-old novel is relevant today, and got advice from Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar for the same role.

It might have been intimidating for British actress Hayley Atwell to sign on for the lead in Starz’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s literary classic “Howards End,” given the long shadow cast by Emma Thompson, who won a Best Actress Oscar for the 1992 Merchant-Ivory film version. But Atwell had some help from Thompson herself.

“Emma’s a friend of mine, and I’m very familiar with her performance in it,” Atwell says. “I e-mailed her to say, ‘They’re doing the impossible, they’re going to attempt to make this,’ and being Emma, incredibly generous and warm, she said ‘You’re about to work with a writer, E.M. Forster, who is one of literature’s first proper feminists. [The character] Margaret will change you — she’s an extraordinary person. You are she and she is you.’ She passed the baton in a way.”

Of the new miniseries, which debuts in the U.S. April 8, Atwell says, “The look of it is different, the energy is different.” For one thing, the novel was adapted for the small screen by Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester By the Sea”) and directed by British filmmaker Hettie MacDonald.

“It’s adapting in four hours as opposed to a 90-minute film, so there’s more of the book in it, and Kenny’s writing takes so much of the content of the text and the dialogue and lifts it, but puts it into a very fresh way that’s accessible and real, so that it feels relevant to today,” she adds.

The 117-year-old novel continues to enjoy a reputation as one of the greats the 20th century, and Atwell says she sees both the timeless qualities of the story and its appeal to contemporary audiences.

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April 4th, 2018   Author: admin   Howards End - Interviews

Alongside a set of exclusive portraits, the actress opens up about her role in the new miniseries based on the E. M. Forster classic.

Merchant Ivory immortalized E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End in a glorious, Oscar-winning film in 1992, and now, a new BBC/Starz miniseries is rebooting the timeless drama for a contemporary audience. The four-part adaptation follows three vastly different families—the intellectual Schlegel sisters, the capitalist Wilcoxes and the impoverished Basts—as they intertwine and clash at the dawn of the modern era.

The series, directed by Hettie MacDonald and written by Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea writer Kenneth Lonergan, centers on fiercely independent Margaret Schlegel (Hayley Atwell) and her idealistic sister Helen (Philippa Coulthard). As Margaret finds herself drawn into the inner circle of the wealthy, mysterious Wilcoxes, Helen devotes herself to a young working-class man desperate to improve himself, setting up the three families for a calamitous encounter when long-buried secrets and private prejudices come to light.

Alongside these gorgeous portraits, exclusive to BAZAAR.com, Atwell walks us through this fascinating cast of characters and why the women and relationships of Howards End should be the new normal in film and television.

Howards End premieres Sunday, April 8 on Starz.

1 Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel

“Emma Thompson [who played Margaret in the 1992 film] told me she believes E. M. Forster is one of literature’s first proper feminists, in the sense that he gave [Margaret] her full mind,” says Atwell. “He gave her so many dimensions. She can be contradictory, and hypocritical, and self-aware but also completely naïve. She is passionate yet maternal. She is rational yet, at times, incredibly confused and overwhelmed. All of this is done with such elegance and emotional intelligence and clarity, which is like, ‘Wow, this is written by a guy?'”

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February 22nd, 2018   Author: admin   Interviews - News

Avengers star Hayley Atwell says playing a woman “who doesn’t rely on her beauty or her charm” was part of the appeal of her new play set in the world of private equity.

The actress plays Jenny in Dry Powder, a cold calculating businesswoman with no sense of the human cost of her decisions, in her first stage role in five years.

She said: “This was the first play I had read that had debunked female stereotypes and for me I hadn’t seen a female character like this before.

“There is no sexual chemistry, that’s new, she doesn’t rely on her beauty or her charm, she has none, she is someone who thinks in numbers and severely lacks emotional intelligence.

“Everything is very much compartmentalised, she sees things as an equation to be worked out.”

Atwell, who admits she was ignorant of the world of finance before taking on the role, spent time with the play’s writer, New Yorker Sarah Burgess, and with people who work in the industry as part of her research.

She said: “I had no interest in it so when I read the script for maybe the first quarter of it I was thinking I don’t really understand a lot of this but I know it’s really good writing, I know it’s very witty, I think the characters are very distinct and I’m understanding that there are different arguments going on.

“By the end of it it didn’t matter that I didn’t really understand the financial jargon.”

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February 22nd, 2018   Author: admin   Interviews

The actor on her return to the stage as a Wall Street villain, her debt to Emma Thompson and why she wouldn’t work with Woody Allen again

London-born Hayley Atwell, 35, graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2005 and within months landed her debut film role in Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream. She has twice been Olivier award-nominated for stage roles, and after playing Peggy Carter in the Captain America films, landed her own TV spin-off, Marvel’s Agent Carter. She starred in autumn’s acclaimed BBC adaptation of Howards End and is currently making her debut at Hampstead theatre in Dry Powder.

You’re starring in Sarah Burgess’s Wall Street comedy Dry Powder. How’s it going?
It’s a real delight. I hadn’t been on stage for five years and was looking for something that jumped off the page, a female role with wit and chutzpah. The play’s set in the world of high finance and initially I didn’t understand the lingo or the rampant capitalism. But it grew on me. Turns out it’s very liberating to play someone who’s unapologetically ruthless.

Yes, your character Jenny is quite villainous…
She’s described as “a vampire” with “sociopathic tendencies”, yet Jenny’s happy with herself and sleeps well at night. She doesn’t have that moment where she breaks down and says “My daddy abused me” and the audience go “Aha, that’s why she’s such a bitch”. Sure, she lacks emotional intelligence and lives in a world of numbers, but if a man in her position displayed those qualities, he’d probably get a pat on the back.

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November 21st, 2017   Author: admin   Interviews - News

After a stint playing a Marvel heroine the actress has come back to the UK to brighten our Sunday nights in a new take on Forster’s novel

In all but one way, the role and the actress are a perfect match. Hayley Atwell, like Margaret Schlegel, the heroine she plays in the BBC’s immaculate new classic serial, Howards End, is clever, morally alert and strong-willed. Like Margaret, Atwell has mixed heritage, although Atwell is Anglo-American rather than ancestrally German. Being half an outsider, she thinks, makes you “nosy” and curious about people. Yet both Atwell and Margaret speak cut-glass received English, so the natives never guess that they are spying.

Professionally it is a good fit too. Atwell comes to the part after a spell in America, where she stunned as Marvel’s Agent Carter, but where her next TV series flopped. Her return from Hollywood is its loss and our gain. “I was clear,” she tells me over lunch in a London restaurant, where beneath our table snoozes her pet chihuahua, Howard, “that this was the kind of work I wanted to do and these were the kinds of people I wanted to work with.” These people include Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Margaret’s widowed suitor, Henry Wilcox, the series director, Hettie Macdonald, and Kenneth Lonergan, the writer and director of Manchester by the Sea, who adapted EM Forster’s novel.

My only caveat is that Atwell, besides being, at 35, a few years older than Margaret, doesn’t really fit Forster’s description in his novel of a woman of “meagre” figure whose face “seemed all teeth and eyes”. Atwell has the figure and face of a star from Hollywood’s bulb-popping prime. It is a matter of pride to her that she has been defined by neither, and nor is her Margaret.

“I think with Margaret Schlegel, she’s quite an evolved human. She is able to say, ‘Henry Wilcox might not be as morally honest as I am, or he might be a bit confused and he might have his values a little bit skewed — but I’m not going to seek to change him in any way.’ She’s not going to use his soul as raw materials. That would be contemptible and unfair.”

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November 15th, 2017   Author: admin   Howards End - Interviews

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.

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November 15th, 2017   Author: admin   Howards End - Interviews

Hayley Atwell believes many British period dramas are too “stiff” and says she is delighted that her character in Howards End is not another “damsel in distress”.

The actress, 35, also revealed she sought advice from Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar for playing the same role — Margaret Schlegel — in the 1992 film version.

Atwell stars with Australian newcomer Philippa Coulthard in the BBC’s new four-part take on E M Forster’s novel. She told the Standard: “I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on. It’s clever, it’s nuanced, it’s mature, it’s sophisticated without being pretentious, it’s accessible, it’s warm, it’s witty.

“Yet we steered very clear and stayed well away from it being another stiff British period drama that felt up its own arse or felt in any kind of way impenetrable.

“We made the characters feel very real and the kind of people you’d run into in the modern day.”

Forster’s 1910 novel follows three families in England, including the half-German Schlegels. Atwell said: “The Schlegels are of the intellectual set but there are also contradictions, hypocrisies, self doubt as they make their way through the world with the tools they have. It’s a dream to be given a female character that is so nuanced.

“I feel like Margaret is rare because there are few characters like her, even in literature, as the centre of the piece. She has many facets to her character and she grows and changes throughout it instead of being someone who is linear, or being the downtrodden damsel in distress — the victim of something, which so many female roles are. She’s never a victim.”

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