Rose Leslie and her baby son have Covid. “Day three. It is fairly grim,” she says. You’d never guess: she’s perky and bright in a stripy T-shirt, endlessly patient and accommodating when our Zoom collapses, greeting my every trite observation with enthusiasm (“You’re so right, Emma”). It’s hard not to feel she has “trouper” stamped through her like a stick of seaside rock.
I wonder if that preternaturally cheery thoughtfulness is part of the reason Leslie accumulates plum roles in prestige TV franchises like Brownie badges. After winning a Scottish Bafta straight out of drama school for her portrayal of a naive Hebridean student in the dark comedy, New Town, she was cast in Downton Abbey as ambitious housemaid-with-notions, Gwen Dawson. In Game of Thrones – of which, inevitably, more later – she’s insolent, mocking, rabbit-skin-clad Ygritte, the wildling who captivates Jon Snow, played by Harington, her future real-life husband. She holds her own in the glitzy, ambitious legal drama The Good Fight, opposite the likes of Christine Baranski and a gleefully OTT Michael Sheen. Most recently, she played Suranne Jones’s quietly gritty colleague and love interest in 2021’s bonkers but enjoyable BBC submarine thriller, Vigil.
Now – this is what has forced her from her sickbed – she’s the titular Time Traveler’s Wife, Clare, in HBO’s new six-parter, adapted by Steven Moffat from Audrey Niffenegger’s bestseller. Theo James plays Henry, the time traveller, who revisits his life – and Clare – with chaotic consequences. Leslie is an emotionally intelligent, steadying presence, with enough backbone to be interesting, but I’m not sure it’s the most fun role of her life: as her character says, “I wait and I worry.”
I can see why she took it on, though. After all those ensemble shows, The Time Traveler’s Wife is indubitably a step up. Its success or failure turns on the two leads: does that create an extra anxiety? “There was a moment – it wasn’t at the beginning of the shoot – but it kind of dawned on both of us that if people don’t like what either of us are doing, then we’re kind of screwed,” she says. “There was that added element of pressure, but it was one I decided not to read too much into. Noticing that it was there, but also realising it wasn’t going to be serving me at all.”
I like that observation: it would have been easy to say “Ooh, yes, I wasn’t sure I was worthy.” But Leslie is 35, 12 years into her career, and had a baby just before filming started. She was eight months pregnant during the audition process, which meant “I felt like I was in a win-win situation, which is an extraordinary position to be in. I’ve never really felt that before walking into any audition. On the one hand I felt, what a fantastic character to play on top of the fact that with our new little family, what an adventure to head out to New York for six months! Then, bizarrely, on the flip side, I almost felt that I’d gain bonus time with our boy had I not managed to get the part. I was kind of relieved of a little bit of the pressure and nervousness that does get you through an audition, but can have a tendency to tip me over the edge.”
Rose was a guest on last Friday’s episode of BBC One’s ‘The One Show’ where she talk about ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, her son, not being on social media and being of a fan of ‘Love Island’. You can watch her whole interview below ! Pictures of Rose and presenter Alex Jones outside the studios have also been added to the gallery.
On May 17, Rose attended Sky’s ‘Up Next’ 2022 event to present ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ alongside co-star Theo James and writer/producer Steven Moffat. We were blessed with many photos from the event (more than 200 !) and Rose looked stunning in a Stella McCartney jumpsuit. Be sure to check the pictures in the gallery and you can also find a fun interview of Rose & Theo below.
Rose Leslie has a lot more appreciation for the commitment ginger hair-craving women make to achieve red locks. Naturally a redhead herself, Leslie has never had to dye her hair and in fact was beginning to tire of being sought out for exclusively redheaded parts. But for her latest role, as Clare in HBO’s latest adaptation of “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” her hair was deemed not red enough for the character so there she was, sitting in the hairdresser’s chair for hours on end.
“Having never sat down in the hair salon in the chair to have my hair dyed before, I was oblivious to the amount of hours that it then takes to keep the color in, and the commitment in the chair, and the work that goes into it from everybody applying this color and mixing,” Leslie says.
She was instructed to take freezing cold showers to prevent the color from fading, which she stuck to diligently — the less time in the hair chair, the more time with her 15-month-old son.
“I did the cold showers and I rather love them now,” she says. “It gives that wonderful tingling sensation. It’s unpleasant, but then you push through and then you’re a bit, ‘oh s–t, weirdly I’ve achieved something.’”
A day after ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ premiere took place in New York City, Rose and Kit flew back to London to attend the ‘SMS Battles Quiz’ event for ‘MS Society UK’, a charity dear to their heart which they have supported for many years. They have donated a prize for the silent auction which has held during the event – a dinner with both of them and a signed ‘Game of Thrones’ boxset. Rose was also joined by her friend and Downton Abbey co-star Sophie McShera. Click here to know more about MS Society UK which helps raise vital funds for MS research.
On a crisp spring day, flanked by fields of luscious greenery in a small village in Suffolk, you’re likely to find Rose Leslie walking her 15-month-old son. “If it was left to me, I’d be taking my boy out for a walk three times a day,” she laughs, telling InStyle about her small pleasures. If it’s just the two of them, she’ll put in a podcast – often Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place, or How To Fail by Elizabeth Day, but she’s also recently been loving My Therapist Ghosted Me with Joanne McNally and Vogue Williams. “I’m kind of chuckling away if it’s just me and my boy, but obviously if it’s the whole fam, then we’re chatting.”
Leslie and husband Kit Harington bought their second home in the English countryside four and a half years ago, and haven’t looked back. Living on the outskirts of a little village, they’ve “slowly but surely” gotten to know the local community, with Leslie attending mother’s groups and the young family participating in the nightly clap for the NHS that took place during the COVID-19 lockdown. “It was a real camaraderie and a real kind of bonding experience in the village,” she remembers. Life in Suffolk, two hours away from the bustle of London – and the attention that comes with being known as Jon Snow and Ygritte from Game of Thrones (the couple met on set 11 years ago) – is simple. “It’s lovely when we come home, and return here,” Leslie shares fondly of their retreat. “There’s less anxiety here.”
When I speak to Leslie, it’s Saturday morning and she’s sitting in a room in their house, the walls painted a warm lemon. She seems at ease, dressed casually in a white t-shirt, hair down, sipping from a large teacup of coffee. “I love it. I feel very much at peace in the countryside,” she says.
Ahead of the ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ premiere in 5 days (this Sunday on HBO !), new gorgeous stills of Rose as Clare Abshire have been added to the gallery. A lot more will be coming in the next few weeks so be sure to check back here !
Our Rose is the cover star of Harper’s Bazaar UK’s June 2022 issue in which she discusses ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ ahead of its launch next month. The photos taken by Alexi Lubomirski are absolutely gorgeous ! You can find them all in the gallery and don’t miss Rose’s interview below. The issue will be on newsstands on May 4; scans will be added to the gallery as soon as available.
Rose Leslie is doing that British thing of apologising when it’s not her fault. We’d arrived at different cafés with the same name, and when we eventually find each other, she bursts into a flurry of ‘sorries’. It goes to confirm what I’ve always suspected: she’s preternaturally nice. Sitting in a busy north-London café, casual in a viridian jumper over a Breton top with a denim skirt and white trainers, she also looks surprisingly normal. It’s only when I spot heads turning that I remember just how famous she is.
Unforgettable in Game of Thrones as the fierce, warrior wild-woman Ygritte (who captured her now-husband Kit Harington’s heart on screen and off), she has subsequently held her own in Hollywood blockbusters against the likes of Vin Diesel and starred in three seasons of the prime-time, Emmy Award-winning drama The Good Fight, as well as in Kenneth Branagh’s sumptuous adaptation of Death on the Nile this year.
Until recently, hers was a high-octane existence: though based in New York, she was constantly shuttling across the Atlantic. « North London is a different world, » she says of her trendy neighbourhood, today framed with clouds of cherry blossom and violet magnolia. « You feel you can breathe in this space – although I have never stepped into so many churches in my entire life!«
HBO has finally unveiled the first full trailer and official poster for ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ (and it looks so good) ! The six-episode first season premieres on May 15th on HBO and HBO Max. It will launch in the UK on May 16th on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.