Holliday time: meet the Brit actress about to make it big
You might recognise her face from any number of period dramas. But as JK Rowling’s latest leading lady, there’ll be no forgetting Holliday Grainger’s name. Eleanor Steafel meets a Brit star on the rise
HOLLIDAY GRAINGER IS showing of her high-heeled boots – evidence, she says, that she has made an efort for our interview. ‘I’ve been living out of the same backpack for weeks, since Glastonbury, because I’ve been going up and down the country seeing people. Today, I thought, “Ooh, I’ve got London meetings, I might actually put heels on!” I was leaving the house and my mum looked at me and went, “Oh, my God!” And I said, “Yeah I know! Get me! I didn’t just roll into the dirty clothes I wore yesterday.” I’ve decided that this is going to be me in my 30s. It’s going to be my chic decade. Get ready world: Holliday Grainger gets chic.’
Dressed in a navy shirt dress, Holliday, 29, does indeed look the definition of summer elegance. Her face is fresh, freckled and make-up free, save for a touch of tinted lip balm. She laughs often – at herself, at me, at everything frankly – a bubbling, infectious laugh that makes you feel as if you’ve known her for years.
And in many ways we have. Holliday’s first professional role was when she was six, in the BBC comedy All Quiet on the Preston Front. She has made her name predominantly in period drama, one of the current set of beautiful young actors who seem to populate quality costume dramas on a rotation (she counts The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby and Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay and Lily James among her friends). Holliday is best known for playing Lucrezia Borgia in the 15th-century crime saga
The Borgias, Lady Constance in the BBC adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Estella in Great Expectations, alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes.
We are sitting in the sunshine outside one of her favourite pubs, The Wells in Hampstead, north London, discussing her new role in the hugely anticipated BBC adaptation of the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels, written by JK Rowling under the nom de plume she adopted after Harry Potter, Robert Galbraith. Holliday plays Robin Ellacott, the secretary to private investigator Strike (a dishevelled, less manic Sherlock Holmes), who has a flair for solving crimes herself.
Working on a project involving JK Rowling was thrilling for Holliday. She is of the generation who grew up with their noses deep in a Harry Potter book. ‘ You know how people talk about where they were when JFK was shot? Or when they heard Princess Diana had died? I can