Dame Harriet Walter interview: ‘Succession,’ ‘Ted Lasso’

“I was so determined not to be boxed into an, ‘Oh, she plays horrible mothers’ category,” reveals Dame Harriet Walter about her roles on HBO’s “Succession” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” this past year. Indeed, the characters of Lady Caroline Collingwood and Deborah could not be more different, and for her incredible range the veteran actress just received two Emmy nominations. “I’m doubly pleased,” admits the performer about being shortlisted for “such a glamorous accolade.”

The actress has appeared on “Succession” in each of the show’s three seasons, so she made a deliberate effort to differentiate that already-established character from her new role in “Ted Lasso.” “I’m going to do the opposite, I’m going to make her kooky and goofy and ditsy, everything that Caroline isn’t really,” remarks Walter on her approach. She does note how both women are “very neglectful,” though she feels Deborah is that way “without really realizing it… mainly because she’s quite needy herself.” Thinking back on her career — which has ranged from stage to screen and includes roles such as Hedda Gabler and Lady Macbeth — she notes how she often plays these “strong-minded women.”

WATCH our exclusive video interview with Sarah Snook, ‘Succession’ Season 3

In Season 3 of “Succession,” Walter returned to the role of Caroline after nabbing an Emmy bid for her turn in the second. She submitted the penultimate episode “Chiantishire” on the Emmy ballot, which she selected because it shows the character “off the record, off show, slightly drunk with a little bit of in vino veritas.” The actress shares a brilliant and biting scene opposite fellow Emmy nominee Sarah Snook, in which mother and daughter lash out at each other about their shortcomings. “I’m playing the interior of somebody who’s feeling rather paranoid… rather misunderstood,” reveals the performer, adding, “In my backstory I’ve got a lot of damage from her childhood, so we know that perpetuates.”

In the episode and the shocking season finale, the entire Roy family has converged in Tuscany for Caroline’s wedding, a development that rankles her youngest child Roman (Kieran Culkin). Walter thinks the relationship hits him the hardest because “he’s the only one that she’s remotely cuddly with,” adding, “There might be something of her infantilizing her youngest,” too. The actress plays a pivotal role in the explosive final scene of the season, in which Caroline and Logan (Brian Cox) turn on their kids. She reveals that an early draft of the scene actually had Caroline physically in the room with the ensemble, but they felt, “It’s more Caroline to do it from her bunker somewhere else, to lob the explosion from far off and run.”

WATCH our exclusive video interview with Hannah Waddingham, ‘Ted Lasso’ Season 2

In “Ted Lasso,” Walter plays the mother of Emmy winner Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca. The actress submitted her first episode, “The Signal,” for Emmy consideration in part because of the “surprise element.” “You don’t think of Rebecca having a mother,” quips the Emmy nominee about how the show has unveiled new facets of the formerly steely character. The actress dives into how she thinks of the character, saying Deborah “wants to be a bit of a girl, she wants to be quite racy and cut loose in London,” continuing, “She feels she hasn’t lived life, she hasn’t been to the rave that is life.”

In addition to “The Signal,” Walter appears in one of the standout episodes of the second season, “No Weddings and a Funeral.” The actress credits scene partner Waddingham for the duo’s immediate chemistry in both episodes, sharing, “You can blame her for being such a big-hearted person, actor.” Even before rehearsal or production on her episodes began, the Tony Award nominee notes how her on-screen daughter acted “like the hostess of the party and she welcomed me in.” Their rapport undeniably translates to the screen.

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UPLOADED Jul 26, 2022 3:47 am