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.
TV & Radio Appearances > Others [+ 1]
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 :
TV & Radio Appearances > April 2017 | BBC Radio 2 [+ 2]
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)
CBS — The CBS All Access original series The Good Fight has officially been renewed for a second season, to air in early 2018.
“We’re only a few episodes into the first season and the reaction from CBS All Access subscribers and critics alike has been phenomenal,” said Marc DeBevoise, President and Chief Operating Officer, CBS Interactive. “This series and its characters are just beginning, and we can’t wait to see where Robert and Michelle King, their creative team, and the amazing cast take The Good Fight next.”
Currently in its first season, the spinoff to The Good Wife follows Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) as she and her protégée Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) are caught in the crossfire of a financial crisis and forced out of Diane’s old firm. With nowhere else to go, they join Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) and Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) at Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, where they must work their way back up to the top. (source)
TORONTO SUN — Rose Leslie was a mere wildling when she first became a fan of the American network drama The Good Wife – which recently spun off a sequel The Good Fight. The Scottish actress had begun working on her three seasons on Game of Thrones, playing Ygritte, the fire-haired wildling with a “thing” for Jon Snow. “Channel 4 in the U.K. carried The Good Wife. And I kind of picked it up with my friends in Season 4, and we watched it to the end,” says the actress, who co-stars with Christine Baranski in The Good Fight. “It was a complete escape for me,” she said in a phone interview on a break from filming in New York. “I was a fan, but I was completely oblivious that there was going to be a spinoff. So I was very ecstatic when I heard.”
One of those apparently magical U.K. actors, capable of adopting a convincing American accent at will, Leslie was cast as Maia Rindell, the daughter of a disgraced Bernie Madoff-type billionaire scam artist, whose budding law career is derailed by his downfall. Among his victims: Maia’s godmother Diane Lockhart (Baranski), the Chicago law firm partner from The Good Wife, whose retirement plans are similarly scuttled by her losses (and whose reputation is in tatters because she’d convinced so many friends to invest with Rindell).
So the world we knew from The Good Wife is upside down. The first episode opens with Diane turning off the inauguration of President Trump and pouring herself a giant glass of wine. And in a news report, we hear Maia’s father described as a, “financier for the liberal elite.” For starters, that was some pretty impressive reaction to actual events. Leslie read the original pilot script, “and it started with Diane Lockhart kind of looking around at a French villa she was living in. After the president’s win they did some quick surgery. I got a few chuckles when I saw it.”
As for the “liberal elite” line, “I guess that’s what he was,” she says of her TV dad (played by Paul Guilfoyle). I think (the producers) want to make sure their show is very relevant to the political climate. And we are dealing with a liberal bubble when we are talking about (Adrian) Boseman (Delroy Lindo), and the African-American law-firm that my character and Diane go to.” (At the end of the pilot, Maia and Diane are jokingly referred to as “diversity hires”). “They’re kind of signalling that there isn’t going to be just one line of political opinion in the series.”
There are other ways in which The Good Fight exists in a different world than The Good Wife. Maia is in a same-sex relationship with an assistant state attorney named Amy Breslin (Helene York). Candid scenes of them at home during the turmoil, include a scene of Amy consoling Maia in the shower. “I love that it’s so candid,” Leslie says. “I love the shower scene between two women; you can see how loving they are to each other, how comfortable they are in their own skin and their own sexuality. And I like the fact that the show doesn’t make a thing out of it. It is just a simple fact that these two women are in a relationship, they support one another.”
Despite being raised in a castle (her family’s 15th century ancestral seat in Aberdeenshire), Leslie needed some research in being truly “to the manor born.” She found it in the book The End of Normal: My Life as a Madoff, by Madoff’s widow Stephanie Madoff Mack. “That book was indeed a very small insight into understanding the harsh reality of a terrifying fall such as the one she and her family went through,” Leslie says. “The reality of my life is that was I was brought up in a very drafty house with holes in the roof,” she adds cheerfully. “So there’s nothing really very fairytale-esque about my upbringing. But I feel very fortunate.” (source)
Rose has been recently interviewed for ‘The Last Magazine’ and some new gorgeous pictures of her have been taken, be sure to check them all in the gallery and read the interview below :
Photoshoots > 2017 | The Last Magazine [+ 8]
THE LAST MAGAZINE — In the new CBS All Access show The Good Fight, viewers are introduced to Maia Rindell, a young woman who has just passed the bar exam and lands a job at a prestigious law firm. It’s new, exciting, and a little daunting for Maia, and that’s before her life is swiftly upended by a family scandal. Stepping into the role is Rose Leslie, who herself is exploring uncharted territory, albeit without the chaos Maia endures. Residing in America for the first time while taking on a lead role in a celebrated franchise has given her something to channel into the character, but it’s also given her the momentum to break out as a new star.
Though Leslie is originally from Scotland, she spent enough of her life away to replace her accent with an English one. “I lived in France for about three years from ten to thirteen, so I kind of lost any Scottish accent when I was living there—I had some weird hybrid of a French-English accent,” she says. “Then I went back to Southern England and it was over, I went into the English accent.”
Raised with four siblings, Leslie’s proclivity towards acting may have simply been an effect of being the middle child. “There’s no other member of my family who is in the creative industry, so to speak,” she says. “I’m in the middle, the only ginger, older brother and sister and younger brother and sister. I think I got the bug from not being listened to. I think the middle child syndrome stepped in relatively early and I think I realized I needed to branch out. My [older] brother is intelligent and my sister is very sporty and intelligent, and I must have subliminally gone, Shit, you’re that, you’re that, I want to be something different.”
It didn’t take much for Leslie to pursue the acting path. “It wasn’t like an epiphany that made somebody stand still and go, This is what I need to do,” she explains. “It just felt brilliant, it felt natural, and I wanted to carry on following this particular path of getting up in front of people and performing.” She enrolled in drama school, but even there it was always about performing. “Some of it was theory obviously and some of it was practical, and I just remember only loving the practicality of it, and not really wanting to theorize on a long essay the reasons as to why I wanted to, so then it felt rather innate.”
Drama school helped get her representation, and before long she was getting auditions and small roles. She won a Scottish BAFTA for a television film called New Town, but her most widespread breakthrough came on Downton Abbey, after their costume director happened to see her in a play. As the ambitious housemaid Gwen Dawson, Leslie was part of the main cast of the show during season one. “It was the first television role I had where I knew I was going to be employed for six months,” she recalls. “I was always in bit parts before, but now suddenly it was a six-month gig that was just incredible to me.” Her character ended up representing a major theme in the show, the rise of the working class, and she even made an appearance in the final season as a refined woman unrecognizable to the estate. But Leslie remembers it more for the fond memories it gave her in her early twenties: “I was living in London with girlfriends, and the idea of getting into a car to drive off into the countryside to shoot for a day and have that happen five days a week was awesome.”
TOWN & COUNTRY — If television is to be believed, Chicago’s law firms are some of the most dramatic places on the planet. Take, for example, the burgeoning legal career of Maia Rindell, played here by Game of Thrones alum Rose Leslie. She’s barely begun her post as a newbie at Lockhart, Decker, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert-Lurie, Kagan, Tannebaum & Associates when her life explodes—something about a billionaire father turning out to be a fraud can do that—and a chain of events is set in motion that will drive the first season of The Good Fight, the new series airing now on CBS All Access.
If the name of the series alone didn’t tip you off, the show is a sequel of sorts to The Good Wife, which ended its celebrated run last year. Fight was also created by Robert and Michelle King, and follows some of Wife’s characters (namely the brilliant Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart and Cush Jumbo as Lucca Quinn) as they continue to navigate the Windy City’s turbulent legal scene. It’s Scottish-born Leslie, however, who’s at the heart of the show, and here the actress chats with T&C about what made it a part she couldn’t turn down.
In the very first episode of this series, Maia’s life is almost completely turned around. She’s gone from anonymous legal associate to being attacked in elevators by strangers her father might have bilked out of their savings. I can’t imagine it’s every day you find a part this complex.
The fact that Maya is almost unjustly targeted was a hook for me. We watch this young woman fight–in her personal and professional life—and I love that she’s someone whose career is about to take off when the rug is pulled out from under her. I wanted to explore someone so resilient, who people can root for through such an awful event.
You’ve previously been on series like Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. What made you go looking for something like The Good Fight?
I feel incredibly privileged to give you this response: I was offered the part. The Kings got in touch and asked me to read the pilot. So, I did that and the how was written so brilliantly that I immediately responded to the character.
The series is fictional, but some of the events do have that pulled-from-the-headlines feeling. Did you take any inspiration from real-life situations of the same ilk?
Before I started, I read Stephanie Madoff Mack’s memoir, The End of Normal. Reading that book was heartrending, as a human being learning about the way someone else’s life has been flipped upside down. That was something that allowed me to almost get an understanding of just how appalling it must have been to be in her situation. You can really only imagine; it’s catastrophic.
Again, this all happens in the first episode! What does the rest of the first season hold for Maia?
What’s within Maia is an innate desire to prove her worth, to show to everyone that she can handle everything that’s thrown her way. But there’s also the realization that her father might not be as innocent as she wants to believe. You really see her mindset develop.
The series certainly stands on its own, but there are winks to anyone who watched The Good Wife. How did you feel about joining that world, which already has such a history?
I did watch The Good Wife, and when I started having conversations about this series, I knew it would be similar—there’s still “good” in the title—but I chose it for the writing and because of the talent that’s attached. Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo are so fantastic! So, being able to carry on some of that story was something I was thrilled to be a part of.
The show takes place in Chicago, but you’ve been filming in New York. How’s that been for a Londoner?
We’ve been in New York since October and have about a month left. It’s been treating me incredibly well! I’m living in Brooklyn and have such an affinity for this city. I’ve never been in New York for longer than a week at any one time, so the idea of coming for a five-month stint was such a pull, and it’s been everything I hoped it would be.
So, you get to go home in a month! How will you spend the time off?
I’m thinking of parking myself in my favorite pub and holding court. I’ll tell people I’ll be there for about six days and they can all stop by. (source)