Tamsin Greig Interview: ‘Belgravia’
Tamsin Greig stars in the new EPIX limited series “Belgravia” from Emmy winner Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”). He adapted his 2016 best-selling novel about the rise of the Trenchard family in London society in the 1840s and the secret that could be their undoing. As Greig explains in our interview (watch the exclusive video above), she is at the center of the action as Anne Trenchard, a mother still mourning her daughter who died giving birth a quarter-century earlier.
Greig is best known to American audiences for the showbiz satire “Episodes,” in which she played a beleaguered British writer at sea in Hollywood. In her native England, she is regarded as a triple threat, equally adept at drama, comedy and the classics. She won an Olivier (the British equivalent of the Tony) in 2007 for her performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” And she has contended at the BAFTAs for “Episodes” as well as the surreal “Green Wing” and the heartwarming “Friday Night Dinner.”
The actress readily reveals that it was challenge to play a part who is characterized by Fellows as “opaque.” She says it “was the most helpful two syllable adjective; it is a fabulous word – a mixture of distraction and armor, two profound weapons.” For Greig, “An actor must decide whether the character they play is expressing emotion or dealing with emotion. The latter made it much more interesting journey for the audience as it is a mystery to find out what they are actually dealing with.”
Grief is the all-consuming emotion that oftentimes overwhelms Anne. “The containment of deep emotional trauma is what makes us uniquely human. We have a adept way of coping with our responses.” It is what drives Anne to break her word to her husband and confide in Lady Brockenhurst that they share a grandson. “By giving her word, Anne is indebted to James. She is then confronted by a woman who is experiencing the same terrible ongoing grief,; that trumps the oath. However, she still needs her to say she won’t reveal the secret.”
Greig speaks at length about how key the costumes, hair and makeup were in helping her understand her character: “The design team did an extraordinary job in creating the world that the characters inhabit. The hair and makeup was so detailed and specific. And then those incredible James Keast costumes, each of which was telling their own individual story.”
She reminisced about the connection she shared with Walter from their time together at the RSC and with producer Gareth Neame from their university years. The actress also talks of her ties to Paul Ritter, who plays the scheming butler in “Belgravia.” They co-star in “Friday Night Dinner,” which just wrapped its sixth season.