Alice Eve stars in the new EPIX limited series “Belgravia” from “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes. The Oscar and Emmy winner adapted his 2016 best-selling novel about the upwardly mobile Trenchards navigating London society in the 1840s and the secret that could be their undoing. As Eve reveals in our interview (watch the exclusive video above), her character, Susan, has married into the family and could be their undoing. Although her character may be unlikable on the surface, this Oxford-educated actress explains, “I like debunking conventional interpretations of people. I went through that in school being thought of as a blond bimbo but I was actually quite academic, a nerd.”
Eve regards Fellowes as a feminist because he “has such deep empathy with the female position. He wrote my character with such insight and it was so joyous to play someone like that.” She credits him with helping her crack her character. “When Julian came to set, he said to me to play an intelligent woman at that time, which was so tightly engineered socially, you couldn’t have a career. All you could do, to quote Julian, was to navigate the men in society to build a world that was mentally stimulating and creatively fulfilling.”
Eve believes that boredom is what propels Susan into the arms of John Bellassis (Adam James). “Adam and I did get a chance to rehearse. I would have to defend my character and her feminism. That was an informative process for coming to the set and having the tension.” The actress contrasts these scenes with James with those opposite Richard Goulding who plays her husband Oliver. “That was an interesting relationship. I think it is important to discuss what doesn’t happen in front of the camera too. Richard and I discussed that we had an almost fraternal relationship, like siblings and that underneath it all, we loved each other.”
Eve speaks at length about how key the costumes by BAFTA winner James Keast were in helping her understand her character. “The first round of initiation into who you’ll be working with is the costume department. I was with James and he showed me all what he was building for me and all these fabrics he was using. It was through him that i began to understand Susan’s lavish taste and her wealth.” And she elaborates, “the inflexibility of the costumes was an indication of the constrictions in society. We had an etiquette coach on set who was stringent in telling us that we must not touch our faces or our hair because it was all suggestive and a language.”
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