Jessie Buckley interview: ‘The Lost Daughter’

“You see a woman who’s trying to find life,” describes Jessie Buckley of her character Leda in Netflix’s film “The Lost Daughter.” She shares the role with Oscar winner Olivia Colman, as each actress plays Leda at different moments in her life. In extensive flashbacks, Buckley’s Leda is a young mother and comparative literature scholar who tries to find fulfillment in her professional and personal lives while raising two young girls. As she describes her character’s arc in the film, “How is she going to live the fullest life as a mother and a woman and an intellectual?” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Maggie Gyllenhaal directed and wrote the screenplay for “The Lost Daughter.” Buckley describes Gyllenhaal as “an extraordinary actress” and notes that because of Gyllenhaal’s extensive, Oscar-nominated work in front of the camera she “created a space as a director for me to step into as a young woman and really grow and be really brave.” “I would’ve jumped off the cliff for Maggie,” Buckley shares.

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The psychological thriller is based on Elena Ferrante’s 2008 novel of the same name. Best know for her four Neapolitan Novels – the first two of which have been adapted into an HBO series – Ferrante writes under a pen-name, an act Buckley finds remarkable. “It’s kind of an extraordinary thing that she does. She writes under a pseudonym in a world where everybody wants to be known. It’s a pretty radical thing to do that. Maybe that affords her a way to speak more honestly?” Buckley read Ferrante’s book in preparation for the role because she says she like “to put whatever ingredients I find into a big cooking pot.”

One of those ingredients is the W. B. Yeats poem “Leda and the Swan,” from which the character name derives. Since Buckley’s Leda is a scholar of literature, she also read the poem to find insight into the character. “I’d never read the poem before, but when I did I absolutely loved it,” she says, adding, “It kind of haunted me.” She draws parallels between the events of the poem and her character’s journey, explaining, “This explosion has happened in my life, the walls that I’ve always known to be around me and who I am have burnt down and yet from this, maybe the gift is actually this brilliant new young woman is going to be birthed forward from me.”

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Even though Buckley and Colman play the same woman at different points, the two actresses did not collaborate much on their approach to the character to avoid trying to emulate or copy one another. “I think it would have done a disservice to the character,” she shares, because, “People change. We all have different chapters in our life.” She describes the decision as “the more interesting choice.” While Buckley and Colman never share the screen, she often appears opposite her character’s two daughters, played by child actresses Robyn Elwell and Ellie Blake. “I love working with kids,” she says of the experience, because “I think they’re the most honest crowd.”

Buckley also discusses two particular scenes from the film, one of which involves her gifting her eldest daughter Bianca (Elwell) a doll from her childhood. Although she encourages viewers to take away whatever symbolism or message they see in the dolls of the film, she reveals, “The thing that I discovered from this story is even between women there is a kind of repressive chain that we hand down to each other… She’s passing down a heritage of things, and when [Bianca] defaces that doll in some way that’s maybe her daughter going, ‘Stop.’”

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UPLOADED Feb 8, 2022 9:00 am