Phyllida Lloyd interview: ‘Herself’ director
Phyllida Lloyd returned to the world of film directing this year with “Herself,” nine years after directing Meryl Streep to an Oscar in “The Iron Lady.” “Herself,” which is set for release on Amazon Prime on January 8, centers on a single mother in Dublin haunted by domestic abuse who decides to build her own house after failing to get what she needs from the housing system. It is a change of pace for Lloyd, at least in the world of film. “I’d been looking for a more indie movie to do for several years,” says Lloyd in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “I had this hunch that it might suit me better and that I could work more in the way that I do in the theater, with a smaller unit, a more collaborative approach.” Watch the full interview above.
Lloyd and the film’s star and co-writer, Clare Dunne, had worked together for years in an all-female Shakespeare troupe. The director was struck by the blending of tones in Dunne’s script and its approach to telling the story of an abused woman without resorting to cliche. On the set, Lloyd felt she had a “shorthand” with Dunne. “I knew what Clare was capable of,” explains Lloyd, “That stripped bare, no artifice, no acting, I wanted that from everyone else as well.”
With a large part of the narrative surrounding the construction of a house, Lloyd booked her and Dunne on a course to learn how to build a timber-framed house. It was important that both of them and members of her team “become very proficient at sawing and constructing and lifting and working in teams, stuff that really fed into my sense of how I was going to plan” the construction scenes. While the film certainly had its challenges, Lloyd felt “much more in my element” working on a small-scale project compared to the bigger budgets she’s worked with before.