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.
After wrapping up the first season of The Good Fight Rose is back home in London, and she was interviewed on BBC Radio 2 this morning to talk about the show which is currently airing in the UK on More4. You can listen to her below and check some photos taken there :
STYLIST — Rose Leslie is distracted. Outside her window in Brooklyn a passer-by has fallen over on a patch of black ice and she can’t stop giggling. Storm Stella recently hit and New York has only just re-emerged from the state of emergency called by its mayor. It’s fine to laugh, she tells me, because the passer-by has got up and walked off, but she’s now positioned herself away from the window in case any more slapstick comedy strikes.
Although she’s a big fan of comedy, the Scottish-born actress made her name playing serious-minded characters who are British to the bone. She first came to attention in 2010 as Gwen, a housemaid who betters herself and waved goodbye to Downton Abbey before the end of the first series. Next, in that other globally successful television juggernaut Game Of Thrones, she nailed the Yorkshire accent playing the fiery wildling Ygritte, Jon Snow’s enemy-turned-lover. There has also been a brief spell as a policewoman alongside Idris Elba in Luther.
Right now, Leslie is feeling a bit nostalgic for ol’ Blighty, which may explain why she’s binge-watching The Replacement and This Country on BBC iPlayer. “I am obsessed with This Country,” she confesses. “The script is so astute about who they are representing – it manages to find the delicate balance of being truthful without belittling.” It’s been five months since the 30-year-old left her London flat for America to play a role that is completely different to her previous work: a high-flying lawyer in modern day Chicago.
In The Good Fight – a new 10-episode spin-off from the eminently watchable The Good Wife, which finished last year after seven series – senior partner of the parent show’s law firm Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) loses her life savings in a financial scam. But, in the tenacious female fashion of the original show, she sets up shop afresh with her goddaughter Maia Rindell (played by Leslie) and Lucca Quinn (played by fellow Brit Cush Jumbo) in another distinguished Chicago legal firm. Already critically acclaimed in the US, The Good Fight does not shy away from contemporary politics, covering topics such as fake news and police brutality.
Leslie admits that the opportunity to live in New York for five months while filming the show was a perk she couldn’t refuse, but Brooklyn is a long way from her family’s 15th-century castle in Aberdeenshire where she grew up with her four siblings (a stint in a Somerset boarding school put paid to her Scottish burr) before arriving in London aged 18 to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Her background may be lofty but in conversation Leslie is anything but. She is naturally warm, engaging, laughs often (and hard) and has impeccable manners. Until someone falls over on a patch of ice, that is…
With the success of Downton Abbey and Game Of Thrones, it seems like you have the golden touch when it comes to choosing TV shows to work on. What attracted you to The Good Fight?
I was late to the party with The Good Wife but so many of my friends loved it. When I finally gave it a go, I thought the writing was fantastic and I was pulled in by the fact that [writers] Michelle and Robert King wrote so powerfully and beautifully for women. The characters are intelligent, passionate women who are struggling with climbing the prickly ladder to the top of the legal profession. It’s not an easy path but the story lines aren’t obvious. The script was completely engrossing.
NEW YORK POST – As the lady’s maid Gwen on “Downton Abbey,” Rose Leslie captured the spirit of an independent-minded woman, circa 1912, who saved up enough money to buy a typewriter and taught herself to type. So long, place settings and candlesticks. Hello modern world.
In 2017, Leslie fully entered the modern world in terms of her TV roles. Following her smashing success as the doomed Ygritte on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the Scottish actress was cast as rookie lawyer Maia Rindell on the CBS All Access series “The Good Fight,” a 10-episode, post-Julianna Margulies extension of the long-running series “The Good Wife” — already renewed for a second season.
To film the series, Leslie moved from London to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and just like “Downton” and “Thrones,” immersed herself in a foreign world, this one marked by legalese and power suits. She didn’t have to take a crash course in the American court system. “So far, I haven’t really come across a word I haven’t been able to pronounce,” says Leslie, 30.
Maia gets a job working at a primarily African-American law firm under the tutelage of her parents’ friend, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski). On camera, it’s a complicated relationship. Shortly after taking Maia under her wing, Diane learns she has lost her life savings in a Ponzi scheme apparently engineered by Maia’s father (Paul Guilfoyle). Off camera, Leslie has joined the Baranski fan club. “She is the most gracious woman I’ve come across,” she says, suddenly aware of what a kiss-up she sounds like. “That’s not just me, brown-nosing.”
While Baranski receives star billing, of course, Leslie has benefitted from one of the show’s best subplots: the young idealist realizing her family may be completely corrupt.
“Through the arc of the 10 episodes, it’s interesting to see the eroding relationship with Maia’s father,” she says. “The momentum is really gathering speed around the Ponzi scheme and it’s crashing down around her.”
The series has tackled some contemporary issues such as fake news, and plays more like a cable series with features you’d never hear or see on an ordinary CBS series (including nudity and four-letter words). Maia rarely curses, but Leslie did film some nude scenes with Helene Yorke, who plays Amy, Maia’s lawyer girlfriend. “It’s a fantastic way to see the relationship between Maia and Amy,” Leslie says. “You can observe them as two loving people. It expresses how strong they are as a unit.”
With production completed, Leslie has returned to England, and to her boyfriend of four years, Kit Harington, whom she famously met on the set of “Game of Thrones” (he played Jon Snow). She seems to know she has landed the most popular (and coveted) hunk in the medium, but all she’ll say about him is “My boyfriend is a phenomenal man.”
Their romance on “GoT” offered a welcome break from the series’ trademark carnage. Fans fell in love with the pair, putting together YouTube montages of their story, like any popular soap opera couple. Ygritte’s death scene, with her memorable last line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” was truly moving. Which raises the question: If every woman wants to die in Jon Snow’s arms, what was it actually like to do so?
“This is me going back,” Leslie says. “It was very emotional. The love that she felt for Snow overrode any frustration she felt. It was very painful. Ygritte was happy to be dying in the arms of the man she loved. It was a very lovely storyline to be a part of.” (source)