Q&A CHAR­LOTTE RI­LEY, WUTHER­ING HEIGHTS

Looking for a pas­sion­ate love story for your Sun­day evening? This adap­ta­tion of Wuther­ing Heights just might do the trick. Guy Davis spoke with its star, Char­lotte Ri­ley.

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q & A -

One of the most in­tense and en­thralling love sto­ries in English lit­er­a­ture has re­turned to the screen with a new two-part adap­ta­tion of Emily Brontë’s clas­sic novel Wuther­ing Heights.

The tale of soul mates Heath­cliff and Cathy is brought pas­sion­ately to life in this two-part minis­eries, fi lmed amid the stark beauty of the York­shire coun­try­side and fea­tur­ing ris­ing stars Tom Hardy as Heath­cliff and Char­lotte Ri­ley as Cathy. I’d been wait­ing ages and ages for a phone call from my agent. I was re­hears­ing a stage pro­duc­tion of The Cherry Or­chard and do­ing a re­ally fast cos­tume change, and I was get­ting back in my corset when I no­ticed a missed call on my phone. When I rang back, they said ‘ You got it.’ I was like ‘ Oh my God’, while every­one was say­ing ‘ Char­lotte, you’ve got to go back on stage!’ [ Laughs] It was a re­ally mag­i­cal day – my fi rst big role – so you cel­e­brate for about 24 hours and then you think ‘ Oh no, I’ve got to ac­tu­ally do it now. This is one of the most iconic char­ac­ters ever’. So you have a bit of a panic and then you’ve got to get over your­self and say ‘ Get a grip, it’s just act­ing and it’s only a TV show and it’ll be OK’.

How much did you know about Wuther­ing Heights prior to get­ting the role?

It’s very daunt­ing; it’s like play­ing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. But you have to just go with your in­stinct on it and know that you can’t please every­one. This is an adap­ta­tion, so you have to have confi dence that you’re cre­at­ing the story that the di­rec­tor and the writer want and that they are mov­ing in a defi nite di­rec­tion with it. You’re not try­ing nec­es­sar­ily to recre­ate the book. You’ve just got to be­lieve that you’re hope­fully go­ing to bring some­thing to the role that many peo­ple will like.

What was your re­ac­tion upon learn­ing you’d won the role of Cathy?

Al­though I was aware of the story, I hadn’t ac­tu­ally read the book. When I found out that I would be play­ing Cathy, I read the book three times. The fi rst time I read it, I was on hol­i­day in Spain be­fore fi lm­ing be­gan. I re­mem­ber be­ing on a boat in the glo­ri­ous sun­shine but feel­ing as though I was some­where else com­pletely.

As you said, Cathy is a pretty iconic char­ac­ter. Is there a way to put your own stamp on the role, so to speak? This minis­eries was fi lmed in the north of Eng­land, where the book is set. Did it help in adding at­mos­phere?

There is some­thing very specifi c and unique about the York­shire moors and how the

How do you think your in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Cathy diff ers from oth­ers seen in the past?

I wanted my por­trayal of Cathy to have an earthy feel about her. From mem­ory, no one seems to have played Cathy as a north­erner, so I felt I could ex­plore this as­pect of her char­ac­ter. I did watch a lot of the other adap­ta­tions, and from my ex­pe­ri­ence she’s ei­ther been Amer­i­can or French or very English, so I felt that was rel­a­tively un­tapped. I wanted to bring more of a tomboy­ish qual­ity to Cathy, es­pe­cially when she’s younger. She’s not corsets and tea. She’s snotty-nosed and grubby! land­scape makes you who you are, es­pe­cially for Cathy and Heath­cliff , who live in com­plete iso­la­tion. The di­rec­tor, Coky Giedroyc, was very in­spired by west­erns, draw­ing upon their vast bleak land­scapes. You’ve got to use that in this case be­cause it’s in­te­gral to their re­la­tion­ship and why they are the way they are and why you have to love like that. You can love like that be­cause it’s so mas­sive you can be huge and de­mon­stra­tive – there’s no one to stop you.

What was it like work­ing with Tom Hardy as Heath­cliff ?

He’s very in­spir­ing to work with be­cause he brings so much en­ergy to a set and in­jects so much life into ev­ery­thing. If you’re play­ing op­po­site some­one like that, you have to give as much as you’re get­ting. I knew there was go­ing to be no hold­ing back with his Heath­cliff . I re­mem­ber the fi rst re­hearsal that we did – we were re­hears­ing a scene in which he has to grab hold of me. He ob­vi­ously checked with me fi rst and then he prop­erly just grabbed hold of my hair. He’s like that. He doesn’t just bull­dozer in but if he’s there he’s do­ing it and he’s do­ing it prop­erly. And it’s bril­liant be­cause it gives you some­thing to play against. You have to have that with Cathy and Heath­cliff : no holds barred.

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