FARFETCH — You could forgive Rose Leslie for finding it rather trying to have the same 5 words incessantly yelled at her in the street – even if those 5 words are ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow’ and came as a result of her stellar 3-year stint on Game of Thrones. But it turns out that Rose is so very nice as to insist she actually likes it. ‘It’s a lovely thing to be on the receiving end of,’ she says. ‘I feel so lucky, a, to have [a catchphrase] and, b, to be a part of a show that is universally adored.’ It’s a sunny spring day, but the east London warehouse we’re shooting in is so inexplicably cold that even a person who grew up in a Scottish castle (that would be Rose) is gripped by the chill. Still, she poses gamely around the freezing space to show off SS17’s key deconstructed pieces to their best advantage.
From the big fashion hitters to the titans of television, Rose’s ascent to stardom has come via some of the modern era’s most celebrated shows: her breakout role Gwen in the first season of Downton Abbey, then Thrones’ Ygritte, Wildling warrior and doomed love of Jon Snow. Now her flawless record continues with The Good Fight, the much-anticipated The Good Wife spin-off and a newly minted hit. The series follows Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart as she moves to a new law firm after her plans to retire fall through (she loses all her money in a Ponzi scheme run by a close friend); Rose plays Maia, Diane’s beloved goddaughter and offspring of the Ponzi schemer. Here, she shares style advice, reminisces about Ygritte’s costumes and tells us about Maia’s ‘pretty good fight of her own’.
Everyone seems to have gone wild for The Good Fight. Do you think that’s down in part to how very current it feels, exploring subjects like fake news and even opening the pilot with Diane Lockhart watching the Trump inauguration?
Rose Leslie: ‘Yes, and I’m certainly incredibly proud of the fact that [showrunners] Robert and Michelle King decided to be bold enough to take on the administration in terms of highlighting what they feel needs to be brought to people’s attention. In the pilot, I think that with nothing being said, you can project whatever your own feelings are to Donald Trump being sworn in. Diane Lockhart’s face is so beautifully blank – you were able to project whatever your own thoughts were onto her face and be like, “Oh my god, this must be what Diane is feeling.” I thought that was very clever.’
WWD— Rose Leslie is branching out – and that’s not just because she’s just tried octopus for the first time. The 30-year-old Leslie is finally sitting down to a late lunch at Zuma in Midtown Manhattan, about to depart New York as her new show, “The Good Fight,” wraps shooting season one. It was the Scottish actress’ first time filming in the city and her verdict on it — and the octopus — is positive. Leslie, until now best known as Ygritte on “Game of Thrones” — she, of “You know nothing, Jon Snow” fame — has left the furs and battle scenes behind and is trying on corporate law for size, in “The Good Wife” spinoff “The Good Fight,” the season finale of which aired Sunday night.
“It was brilliant to be able to go off in a whole new universe, even though [the characters] are familiar,” Leslie says. “There are similarities with the previous show, but you’re exploring completely different avenues and characters and seeing this woman whom you’ve loved for so long, Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart, falling off her pedestal. We’re really seeing her in a kind of free-fall, and that was something that really pulled me to the project — because she’s always been such an inspirational character to watch for women.”
The spinoff, which has already been renewed for a second season, follows Lockhart as she seeks to start a new life after financial ruin at the hands of her close friends. Leslie is Maya, the only child of the friends, whose lies unravel in a Madoff-like manner. Much like “The Good Wife,” writers Robert and Michelle King focus the story lines of “The Good Fight” heavily on current politics and social issues.
“There’s something incredibly bold and brave about it, and I highly respect the Kings for putting these issues at the forefront of the writing and the episodes,” Leslie says. “We approached the issue of police brutality, and then also of fake news, and just hopefully, as a result, a trickle-down effect. I’m really assuming this is why the Kings pursue this — to help the viewers, or to enable a kind of thought process that’s like, ‘You’re right!’ Once you’re reflecting society into our show, hopefully that will then project onto the audience, who’ll be like, ‘Wait a minute, your show’s based on reality.’”
“The Good Wife,” which ended in May 2016, carried a strongly loyal fan base, much like Leslie’s previous shows “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey.” “God, I’ve been so fortunate, actually,” she says. “Because [‘Thrones’ and ‘Downton’] were hits and so universally loved that I’ve only ever been on the receiving end of pure joy, when people are expressing the pleasure they derive from something like ‘Thrones’ or ‘Downton Abbey.’ You’re so energized by the story lines and by the worlds that you know that it’s real escapism for some of the fans. And, that’s an incredible, extraordinary feeling — to know you’re a part of something that gives people joy.” (source)
THE EVENING STANDARD — People are often crushed when they hear actor Rose Leslie speak for the first time. “They’re like: ‘That doesn’t sound right! You’re lying! You’re not her!’” she says with a self-deprecating chuckle. The “her” being Game of Thrones’ wildling warrior Ygritte, and the crushing sensation being disappointment that Leslie sounds nothing like her most famous character delivering her catchphrase, “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.
Even with manners as lovely as Leslie’s, disappointment is sometimes inevitable: “Say, you’re with your mates and having a nice time in a beer garden and someone asks you to do it. You’d feel a bit like a performing monkey if you put on the accent.” This is the major downside of being talented and successful — you’re for ever confronting strangers with the unwelcome reminder that TV isn’t real life. Game of Thrones fans can at least be comforted by the knowledge that the real Leslie also hails from “beyond the wall”, in rural Aberdeenshire, where she was raised in her father’s ancestral home, a castle on the outskirts of a village which, until a few years ago, wasn’t even on the map. Five years of boarding school in southern England at Millfield did it for her Scottish accent but it was a Scottish Bafta New Talent award for her role in the Edinburgh drama New Town which, in 2009, launched Leslie’s screen career.
Since then she’s played a housemaid in Downton Abbey (the contrast with her own “above stairs” upbringing was much remarked on), Idris Elba’s foil in Luther and a ruthless killer in Channel 4’s cult hit Utopia. In many ways, though, it’s her latest character in The Good Wife’s new spin-off, The Good Fight (Thursdays, 9pm, More4), that’s least likely to cause crushing moments in a pub beer garden. Maia Rindell is a natural hard-worker born into a life of privilege in Chicago. As the series opens, she’s just passed the bar and is about to embark on an illustrious legal career with the help of her well-placed godmother, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski). Then an unforeseen misfortune turns the world against Maia and she’s forced to strike out on her own, eventually taking up a junior position at the firm where Lucca (Cush Jumbo) now works. Good Wife fans, you will not be disappointed: The Good Fight is as compelling, stylish and subtly progressive as its much-loved predecessor.
Promotion for the Good Fight is still underway and Rose was interviewed on Virgin Radio UK this morning to talk about it. You can listen to the whole thing here, but I have also cut the ads and songs from the audio and put it on Youtube, as well as transcripted some interesting bits of her interview ; enjoy !
On the song she chose to play on the radio:
– I was introduced to this track [Midnight City by M83] through my boyfriend. I was in Iceland and we had met and were working on a job together, and we connected with it. And it was such fond memories associated with that one track, I just love listening to it and get very kind of like soppy and happy. – Are you trying to tell me that this is Jon and Ygritte’s tune ?
– [laughs] This is literally Jon and Ygritte’s tune ! We hijacked it.
On filming Sticky Notes: – You’re a natural dancer ?
– Noooo. [laughs] No, they very kindly provided me with a double and when we were working on it I would practice the dance moves but there’s no way I was natural enough to pull off somebody who really had the gift. They would shoot this lovely lady in a wide shot and then they would quick cut to myself in a close-up sweaty and breathing really hard as if I’ve just done the routine. And they would like spritz a little bit of a bottle of Evian water onto my face… Very sexy.
On doing accents: – I love the idea of putting yourself into a completely different’s character shoes and surprising yourself, surprising hopefully the audiences and realizing that you can just morph into someone else and I feel the voice holds so much of a person. The Northern accent is my favorite hands down, it’s so warm and welcoming, and I love doing it. – Did you create that for Ygritte ?
– That came about through the audition process, I remember going in for the first round and being told that she had a Northern accent and then going home and practicing ferociously. I was fortunate enough to get a second round, and so by the time I went in I felt that I was confident enough to hopefully pull it off.
On what she’s attracted to in a project:
– When it comes to a project, the writing has to be brilliant in terms of keeping me engrossed but I would say first and foremost it’s got to be the character. I rather get drawn to characters who don’t necessarily conform whereby they don’t take an obvious route and their circomstances are unpredictable and you kind of see them flounder. And then hopefully there’s a happy ending whereby there’s a development of self and you see them persevere.
As previously announced, Rose attended The Olivier Awards 2017 today where she presented the award for Best Costume Design. She wore a gorgeous red Dior dress and arrived on the red carpet with Kit Harington and friend Sophie McShera whom she met in 2010 on the set of Downton Abbey.
Exciting news ! It has been announced that Rose will be in attendance to this years’ Olivier Awards, this time as a presenter (she already went in 2016). Her friend and Good Fight co-star Cush Jumbo will also be there.
Whatsonstage – The final details, including the full line up of presenters, for this Sunday’s Olivier Awards ceremony have been released.
Presenters joining host Jason Manford this year include Ben Forster, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Rylance, Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, John Boyega, Michaela Coel, David Baddiel, Alfie Boe, Leanne Cope, Julian Clary, Robert Fairchild, Phoebe Fox, Denise Gough, Matt Henry, Ruthie Henshall, Amanda Holden, Rufus Hound, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie, Maureen Lipman, Danny Mac, Audra McDonald, Laura Mvula, Paul O’Grady, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Sophie Okonedo, Charlotte Ritchie and Russell Tovey.
The presenters join the already announced line up of performances which include Gary Barlow and Tim Firth as well as the company of The Girls, Amber Riley, Tim Minchin and Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes. Audra McDonald will also perform as part of the In Memoriam section.
This year the ceremony takes place on 9 April at the Royal Albert Hall from 6pm, with red carpet arrivals from 4.30pm. The Olivier Awards will then be broadcast on ITV on Tuesday 11 April from 8pm to 10pm.