They’re separated by a two-metre stick but their chemistry is as strong as ever. The Crown stars on their socially-distanced take on Lungs; lockdown diets and naked drawings
Claire Foy and Matt Smith are describing the odd experience of rehearsing a play while a stage manager holds a two-metre stick between them. The pair are preparing for a second run of Lungs, an intimate two-hander about the travails of modern coupledom that was first staged last year at the Old Vic in London. Their characters fought, made up and slept together on stage. This time, however, they won’t even be able to get within hand-holding distance of each other.
The stick is there to ensure that physical distance remains at all times in accordance with lockdown rules, Foy explains, adding that the stage manager, Maria Gibbons, beats them apart with it. Smith reminds her that the guidance for distancing has “just been reduced to one metre, so snap her stick in half!”
The two actors have a Tigger-ish enthusiasm in their conversational to-and-fro, even on a Zoom call at the end of a day of rehearsals. They first met six years ago on the set of Netflix hit The Crown. Foy had already got the part of young Elizabeth II and was in the room when Smith came in for his screen test. “She was very generous,” he says, “and there was something that worked about it.” They proved to have a remarkable chemistry and it is clear from their exuberant banter now that they spark just as well off-camera. They joke, tease and even finish each other’s sentences.
“We’re friends,” says Foy, “and after The Crown we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we did something together again?’ I didn’t know if anyone would let us and then we independently read this play and went, ‘Shall we just do it?’”
Lungs centres on a well-meaning, if smug, middle-class couple who talk about saving the planet and debate whether to have a baby or not. This production, performed in the theatre’s empty auditorium and filmed on Zoom, is live-streaming to audiences, to raise money for the Old Vic, which has been dark for over three-months and is in a precarious financial situation. This is the first in a new series of shows from the theatre, made to earn some income in lockdown. Matthew Warchus, the theatre’s artistic director and this show’s director, is also a seasoned film-maker, Foy points out, so he is doing some “very, very clever things into camera”.
Though both actors enthuse about the innovations of this production, they miss the physicality of the stage. “I knew that in this play we depended entirely on our connection and the other actor’s performance, but I didn’t realise how much I relied on being in each other’s physical space – being able to touch one another and engage in that way,” says Foy. “It’s making me a bit blue because you lose an element of what being an actor is. There is something vital missing. But I don’t think that it’s going to be any less because of that, but it can’t be like this for ever!”
Like all good plays, they think, this one works in various different contexts: its messages around climate disaster and environmental damage may well resonate differently in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Essentially,” says Foy, “this couple is asking, ‘Is love enough? Is our good intention enough?’ It’s a conversation about how we live our life. In lockdown, I’ve heard people saying the idea of no planes in the sky and less pollution feels like a real opportunity to start again. At the same time, everyone is desperate to get Heathrow back up and running and go on holiday.”
Smith thinks lockdown has offered a quietly significant pause for thought. At the beginning, the playwright Simon Stephens suggested Smith “embrace the stillness of it”. It was hard to do at first, he says, but it felt important to succumb. “With all the different movements going on now, politically, socially and ideologically, if you don’t reframe the way you think, then you’re living on another planet!”
Is he referring to the Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota? “Yes, of course. If your filter hasn’t shifted, or at least improved slightly, then what does it take?”
There is also their growing concern about the future of the creative industries. Earlier this month, UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he was convening medical and arts experts to help get live performance back on its feet. How do they feel about that?
A financial bailout would be the best kind of help, says Smith, given that the arts sector contributes billions to Britain’s economy. “A significant amount of money would be a start. It’s what they’ve done in Germany, and we could do a lot to look to the Germans, particularly in the way they have supported the arts.”
“It’s important to remind people what’s special about theatre,” adds Foy. “We learn about ourselves by watching plays, we learn about our society. You watch something and it changes you. You walk out and you think about it for days, weeks, years.” She is worried for all those freelancers who fall through the furlough net, and about losing a new generation of talent. “I went to drama school,” says Foy, a graduate of Oxford School of Drama. “That was training I could only have got in this country because our grants were so incredible.”
Foy had just got back from a Unicef trip to Lesotho and Smith had returned from filming in Morocco when the entertainment industry came to a standstill in March. He had been working on The Forgiven, John Michael McDonagh’s film adaptation of Lawrence Osborne’s acclaimed novel, also starring Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain. “All my bits were finished, but they needed another couple of weeks to get the whole film done, which is a shame. Getting all the actors together in Morocco again is going to be tough.”
How have their lockdowns been? “Good and bad,” says Smith. “Obviously there’s things you miss. I’m looking forward to the pubs opening this week, and the cinemas. But I try to keep my head in creative avenues and explore other things, whether that be reading or learning things outside the box.”
To that end, he has been memorising poetry and going over old Alan Partridge episodes to keep his spirits up. Foy has watched the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice again and turned her hand to life drawing, though she admits this latter fact only after Smith has let the cat out of the bag: “She’s like a north London Frida Kahlo,” he says.
Foy laughs nervously: “It’s weird because I’ve seen so little other human life but I’m doing life drawing.”
“Nudes?” asks Smith.
“Well, I’m looking at stuff on a tiny iPad. It’s just not the same. But there’s also been lots of eating crisps and pizza and drinking beer and essentially becoming a giant pig.”
She speaks of her immense gratitude at not having to face the stress that so many others are contending with right now, but there’s a vague sense of fomo: “There’s so much opportunity in life that I always feel I should be climbing a rock face or learning French.”
What about being a mother at this time and keeping her five-year-old daughter, Ivy Rose, entertained? “She’s back at school. The most important thing for kids at this point is to have contact with other children. I find myself thinking, ‘Is my child going to grow up in a world where everyone is wearing a face mask?’ I’ve tried to be very calm about it because I don’t want her to think the world is scary.”
Lockdown interrupted the plan to take Lungs to New York. “We were sending each other messages making plans,” says Smith. “But in true Claire Foy fashion, she said about two months before lockdown that, ‘It’s not going to happen. This virus is going to take over.’”
“I’m a massive disaster-scenario person,” Foy explains.
Do they think, post-lockdown, that the film industry will emerge slightly more intact than theatre? “Organising a film is a logistical nightmare,” says Foy. “It’s like organising the Queen’s coronation every single day. But I don’t doubt they will be able to figure it out – they are amazing. There’s going to be a lag and a time when new things are not coming out. But we all need more stuff to watch. I know I do!”
Until then, there is socially distanced theatre and two-metre sticks but also the delicious prospect of some romantic rule-breaking, suggests Smith. “I’ve threatened Claire that I might break all lockdown rules during the play and kiss her anyway.”
• Lungs is streaming on the Old Vic’s website until 4 July.
Source: The Guardian.
On September 17, Claire Foy showed up at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards; she was running as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in The Crown as Queen Elizabeth II and SHE FINALLY WON! YEAH, GUYS, Claire Foy is now a Golden Globe, a two-time SAG Award and an Emmy Award winner.
Fuck the Brit Awards. Also, The Crown won for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series; unfortunately, The Crown lost the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series categories. Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret) and Matt Smith (Prince Philip) also lost their categories.
Claire and Matt were also the presenters of the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Check out the pictures below:
Also, watch the videos below:
It came to public knowledge recently, by Daily Mail, that Claire Foy received less than her co-star in The Crown, Matt Smith, for the role of THE QUEEN!!!!. After all the media noise, Netflix reported they would cover the payment gap and Claire would get the same amount of money that Matt did. But, months after, she is far from putting her hands on her well deserved money, as she told Al Arabiya in a recent interview, check it out below:
Claire Foy may not have received back pay after the pay inequality controversy for her starring role in the hit Netflix original series The Crown after all.
In late April, The Daily Mail reported that Foy would receive GBP 200,000 to make up for the gap between her and her co-star Matt Smith’s salaries for the show, produced by British production company Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix.
In an interview with Al Arabiya for the upcoming film Girl in the Spider’s Web, Foy disputed that report.
“That was what was reported that I was back-paid. I’ve never mentioned anything about it and neither have the producers. The fact that that is ‘fact’ is—not quite correct,” Foy told Al Arabiya.
“Yes it’s Netflix, but it’s a British production company. It happened at the same time as it was coming out with a lot of other people that there was a lot of pay inequality across the board—in the music industry, in journalism, in every industry. It’s across the board that it became part of a bigger conversation, which is an odd place to find yourself in,” Foy continued.
The controversy garnered headlines across the world when it was revealed that Matt Smith, who plays Prince Philip in the acclaimed first two seasons of the show, was paid more for his role than was Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth—the show’s lead.
Both actors, who were recently nominated for Emmys for their performances, have been recast in season three as the series moves later into the lives of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, past the ages of Smith and Foy. Left Bank has stated that it will no longer pay its actors unequally.
For Foy, the issue was a learning experience.
“I realized early on that me being quiet about it or me not thinking about it in any way, and not associating myself with it, would be harmful to me and also lots of other people. It’s taught me a lot, and I’m still learning about it. I have not come out the other side and know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m still learning as much as anybody else is,” Foy told Al Arabiya.
The added attention that has come with the success of the show has not affected her work or the work she has chosen to take.
“I’m 34, and before that I had an established career and before doing The Crown I had been working for 10 years. My job was sort of for me, really. I feel so lucky to do it. My only responsibility is to feel things and portray them. It’s very difficult for me, after ten years of doing that, to suddenly change my mind—that I suddenly have to do it for other people,” she said.
“Being known for playing one part and being known is a whole new concept for me, and I’m going to have to sit down and think about that at some point. It feels very separate from me as a person,” Foy continued.
In taking the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, based on the fourth book in the hugely popular Millennium series, Foy was not sure she was making the right decision, but thought it a worthwhile risk.
“I can’t predict the future, so I can’t know if I made the right choice or wrong choice. All I can do is go on my instinct and go, this feels wrong, this feels right, or this feels scary but also could be interesting as a person for me to do. For Lisbeth, I thought seemingly this could be a disastrous move, but you only live once. I feel so lucky to do this. I may as well just have a go, I don’t know,” she said.
It was a meeting with Spider’s Web director Fede Álvarez that convinced Foy to take the role.
“I met Fede. There was such expectation, this is such a well-loved part, and it’s been played so beautifully before, that in a sensible world I would run in the opposite direction. But it provided such a challenge. I loved her already from having read the books, so really I just met Fede and he was like, ‘come on, let’s be brave’. I was like, ‘alright then, fine.’”
The Crown seasons 1 and 2 are streaming now on Netflix and The Girl in the Spider’s Web is in Middle East cinemas this November.
During the press tour of The Girl in the Spider’s Web in Spain, Claire Foy spoke to eCartelera about her transformation into Lisbeth Salander, the memorable character from the Millenium series. Check out the video below:
Recently, Claire Foy talked her recent projects, such as The Crown, Unsane and The Girl in the Spider’s Web to Io Donna Italy. She was also photographed for the magazine, check out the pictures below:
Check out the complete interview below:
Berlin, Babelsberg studies. Claire Foy is sitting on a chair with her wrists tied. You can not move. He is undergoing the interrogation of a man who for the moment we only see from behind. A drop of sweat drops from her forehead along her right cheek. He stares intently into his eyes before the order arrives from afar: «Stop». It is Fede Alvarez, the director, who announces a break. The spotlights come on, technicians enter the set and replace various objects and tools. One releases her wrists. The man with his back moves away. Claire Foy instead stays there, on the chair, looking at an unspecified point in the background. He does not notice that we are watching. He is not in a hurry. He seems to need to mentally move away from the role he plays: that of Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the Millennium series, ready to return to the screens thanks to a new novel by David Lagercrantz, the Swedish writer and journalist chosen by the Stieg Larsson family to carry on the saga, abruptly interrupted by his death, in 2004.
The film, like the book (published in Italy by Marsilio), is titled The one that does not kill and will be released next fall all over the world (from us on October 31st). It is a sequel that chronologically follows what happened in The Queen of Paper Castles. On the big screen, Claire Foy collects the baton of her colleague Noomi Rapace. “Lisbeth Salander is now a symbol, a woman who breaks any kind of cliché: computer enthusiast, motorcyclist and fighter. I had to study and think a lot to represent all the facets ». The thirty-four-year-old English actress has a lot of experience on set. He started ten years ago with several television series, but it is only thanks to the role of Elizabeth II in The Crown, which earned her the Golden Globe, which has gained international popularity. “It’s a period of great work and I almost have no more time to stop for a moment and think about the best look for me, I always go around with my characters”. This is his moment: in addition to what he does not kill, he has been in the cinemas with Unsane, experimental thriller signed by Steven Soderbergh, a film shot entirely with an iPhone.
Piercing, tattoos, leather clothing: how comfortable do you feel as Lisbeth Salander?
I’m not an aggressive looking girl, but I do not consider myself a “quiet” person. Above all as an adolescent I often had to repress anger. Acting was a great therapy for me.
Did you have to struggle a lot to become an actress?
My family has always supported me, but it is true that until I had a serious health problem (at 17 years had a benign tumor in one eye, ed) I had never thought about how precious life is and should be engage in any project where you decide to launch.
What did make you get angry as an adolescent?
I was a girl too responsible, I never really rebelled against my parents (divorced since she was eight years old, Claire was raised by her mother with her two older sisters). I wanted to be an outsider and to be able to make mistakes like many of my peers at the time, but I never felt right. And this caused me to get upset often, sometimes inappropriately. I lacked an outlet valve, a bit as it probably happened to Lisbeth Salander when very young.
Also in Unsane you play a woman victim of abuse, like Lisbeth, who is looking for her own way to rebel against…
They are two very different characters, yet similar in the determination they have in wanting to solve the question. Talking about feminism today also means, and above all, starting from the premise that a woman has no means of a man to take dramatic issues such as stalking and violence in general.
Do not you believe in the proper functioning of the institutions?
Yes, but I think the first step should always come from the victim. Only in this way can the risk of certain facts or situations be re-proposed. To interpret Lisbeth Salander I read several books on domestic violence. What I have discovered is that sexual predators are used to chase people who have been victims of abuse in the past and often do not even know it, they have a sort of sixth sense in choosing them.
How difficult is it to leave your characters behind?
I consider every new film an opportunity for growth. Wearing the shoes of another person teaches to be freer, not to be considered bankrupt when the career is not at its best or if you do not have a “normal” family with parties commanded to pass all together (Claire Foy has recently divorced from husband, the British actor Stephen Campbell Moore, with whom he has a daughter of three years). In these years, reading and studying scripts and people, I understood how the expectations of society are always and only a limit, never an incentive to do.