DownTown Abbey The Movie!! Were you a big fan before?
Oh I’m a huge fan, I’ve followed the show for years. I watched it in the early days with my family at home and later with friends at University – it was our Sunday night watching. When I saw Highclere Castle for the first time it felt rather surreal. It’s such an iconic image that I feel I’ve more or less grown up with. On the first day of shooting I was quite giddy walking over the lawns and up towards the house. It was a real pinch me moment.
What was it like on set? Who did you click with the most?
Along with the cast, lots of the crew were also returning, so for many it felt like a family reunion. Everyone was so buzzing to be there – it was such a great atmosphere. I was also lucky enough to have my own little gang of newbies too, so together we were all experiencing the world afresh.
Next is The English Game. How was that experience?
Heavenly! A happy job is as much about the people you’re working with as it is the part you’re playing. There was a little gang of us that played friends in the show and for many of our scenes we’d be sat around a dinner table. They can be great scenes to film because you just spend all day nattering between takes.
What attracted you to the part?
My part is that of a really bright and vivacious woman who has a lots of spirit and bite about her. I really relished the idea of playing this sharp and witty character. I knew it would be a lot of fun and I was right!
By now you are a Julian Fellowes veteran! How does that feel?
Haha I’d love to try and keep it up. I think he is incredible and tells the most beautiful stories.
Another costume drama will be Miss Scarlett and the Duke. How much can you reveal about the show?
Miss Scarlet and the Duke is a Victorian crime drama set in 1882 that It follows Eliza Scarlet trying to establish herself as a respected private detective. You also see her relationship with a number of different characters, most importantly with Inspector William Wellington of Scotland Yard, AKA The Duke. Alongside the case of the week, I think it’ll be Eliza and the Duke’s ‘will they won’t they?’ storyline that will keep the viewers watching.
You’re playing the lead, Miss Scarlet, how does it feel stepping onto set knowing that?
I definitely feels like a very special time. It’s a real novelty to be in every day and I’m loving it. It’s so great I have the time to get to know Eliza and explore all the angles of her personality. If you feel like you’ve fallen short one day, you can make up for it in the next.
How does it compare to being part of a huge ensemble cast?
The truth is, this is an ensemble cast! One of the biggest takeaways for the viewers will be the array of amazing characters that Eliza comes into contact. They are all BRILLIANT. People are going to fall in love with them as soon as they meet them.
You’re back again in Peaky Blinders! What can you tell us about your character’s journey this series?
Linda has to change her game plan because America is off the cards and now she’s looking to affect change from within. You’ll see a much darker and more conflicted Linda this season.
Is it hard to slip back into the Birmingham accent? Do you have any tricks?
I don’t know how good my accent is really. It’s definitely still a work in progress…I’ll always work with an accent coach before we shoot to help get me to a good place and I love this bit of the prep. I find it’s a really helpful way to explore the character. Sometimes you discover rhythms via the accent that tell you something new about the character.
Peaky has such an array of strong female characters, how important is it for you to be part of that?
Hugely important! I’m a massive advocate of ERA 50 50, a campaign whose goal is to work towards balanced gender representation across the industry. It’s so crucial that we see more women on our screens that have personality and agency and have their own journeys to navigate. So to be able to represent a women that has strength and power, like Linda, is fantastic.
You seem to always be putting on olden day costumes, what modern day part would be your dream to play?
The best thing for me about acting is being about to take brilliant lines and steal them for myself. For that short time, you are as clever and as witty as that character allows. I’d love to play the equivalent of CJ in the West Wing – Allison Janney as press secretary to the White House is one of my all-time favourite characters.
Kate stars in Peaky Blinders which starts 25th August at 9pm on BBC1 and in Downton Abbey which is released in cinemas on 13th September.
Interview by Lorenza Calamandrei
Photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Hair & Make up by Justine Jenkins