⋄ Being really likeable all the time is just not real life, so it’s your duty to make a well-rounded character.
⋄ The Queen has stayed with me in the sense that she lets people come to her. She doesn’t feel like she has to go out. I mean, she doesn’t have to anyway because of her rank and her position, but she doesn’t have to overdo it.
⋄ I love home, any home really – my mum’s, and of course my own. I love eating food there and chilling in bed with a cup of tea.
⋄ History has done a great disservice to Anne Boleyn.
⋄ Any scene I’ve ever played where I’ve thought people who watch it had experienced something like that – for example, people who’ve had to deal with losing a parent – I want to do it as respectfully as possible for those people.
⋄ I am always so envious of people who do whatever they want.
⋄ The monarchy is thousands of years old and has experienced many things like ‘The Crown’ in the past. They’re always changing and evolving; that’s the thing. They have to.
⋄ You’re more inclined to be cynical about your own country, and you romanticize it from the outside. And why not? It’s much more interesting than thinking, ‘Oh, everyone’s struggling and normal.’
⋄ With the royal family, you don’t want to see them as people because it takes the sheen off. They’re distant; you can idealize them. But there’s room to have compassion for people and see them as human beings. Just because they’re royalty, it doesn’t mean they don’t love or feel loss or feel pain.
⋄ I think I need to play somebody who expresses themselves and is able to communicate on a more open level, something really different.
⋄ I hate having to pose for photos. It’s just so embarrassing. Everyone is expecting you to know what to do because you’re an actor, but I haven’t a clue.
⋄ Celebrities choose fame. Royals have it thrust on them.
⋄ I just think, in every acting choice that you make, you’ve got to go for the least obvious choice.
⋄ If you’re doing something that’s period, you’ve got to live in it, and you’ve got to make it resonate with you.
⋄ You never know what state you’re going to be in after giving birth.
⋄ When I got the audition for “Macbeth”, it’s awful to say it but I can see what leads her to do what she does. Her husband’s destiny has been proclaimed and she says “You’ve got to meet it.” Which women do all the time.
⋄ [about her “Macbeth” co-star, James McAvoy] The funny thing is you would never ever ever think the man is this movie star. He’s just so down to earth. He could turn round to me and go “Your accent is shocking!” I have to remind myself to actually stop looking at him.
⋄ I wouldn’t have been able to go to drama school when I was 19. I don’t think I was even conscious of life… I was like a zombie. But when I finished uni’ I just realized… just go and do it, stop being a knob.
⋄ I’m lucky I have a fast metabolism… my whole family does… everyone’s got a lot of nervous energy so we burn it off.
⋄ I’ve worked in supermarkets, put tags in baseball caps and provided security during Wimbledon, but I never thought acting would be something I’d be any good at, or make a living from.
⋄ [on portraying Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown (2016)] I do think she’s like everybody else, but she’s not able to express emotions in the same ways as we do. Her duty and her job means she’s not able to be open about her feelings in the way that we all can with our family and with our marriages. Her family was the most important thing to her, and all of a sudden she had to sacrifice them to her job. Once I understood this, she was no longer a disembodied figure and a real person that I could portray her truthfully on the screen.
⋄ [on the royal family] They’re a diverse group of characters. Some of them are quite out there. And if you just take Princess Margaret for example, she was one of the most beautiful women of that era; she was like a movie star in lots of ways. She was very like Elizabeth Taylor. She lived an incredibly exciting life. I think that was because her sister was obviously doing the harder graft, but especially at that time they were glamorous and exciting and beautiful, and the younger generation now are no different I suppose. They represent continuity and a way of life.
⋄ Acting isn’t about what I’m doing. It’s about listening. What is the other person saying? Is my character moved to speak? If they do say something, why do they say it? I lean heavily on my fellow actors, and I’m very lucky to be on set with talented people. I would be terrible delivering monologues I think.
⋄ I think generally British people are more culturally cynical about the things that involve our own country. Especially the royals. And in any country, if you’re close to something, you view it differently, but it will be interesting to see.
⋄ My granddad, one of 13, is from Dublin, my nan, one of 11, from Naas, and they met, hilariously, at a dance in west London. I do think about generational things. I think how quickly my nan and grandad’s life – coming to London where the Irish were completely stigmatized and they just worked themselves to the bone – six kids in a two up, two down. And then suddenly my mum – the eldest – went to university.