Old interview #13: “Jemma is stage stuck”

The Express

September 28, 2004

DAY & NIGHT; JEMMA IS STAGE STUCK

BYLINE: KATHRYN SPENCER, JULIE CARPENTER & KATE BOHDANOWICZ

ANY pairing of the Redgrave acting dynasty is guaranteed to pull in the punters, so its good news that Jemma Redgrave has a burning ambition to appear on stage with her father, eminent thesp Corin.

The problem?

Corin, only brother of Vanessa and Lynn, can’t fit it into his packed schedule. “I’d love to do pretty well everything with him but he’s so booked up, ” says flamehaired Jemma, 38, who starred with Vanessa and Lynn in 1990 in Chekhov’s The Three Sisters and played the 19th-century physician Dr Bramwell. “He’s playing King Lear at the moment but I couldn’t go on stage and see his character get his eyes gouged out.”

There could, she says, be a fourth generation of actors on the way in the shape of her sons Gabriel, 10, and Alfie, four, by husband, QC Tim Owen. “Gabriel wants to be a comedy actor and Alfie is the most dramatic person I know.”

Old interview #8: “Jemma’s tall tale of actors”

The Express

December 20, 2004

JEMMA’S TALL TALE OF ACTORS; DAY & NIGHT

BYLINE: KATHRYN SPENCER, JULIE CARPENTER & KATE BOHDANOWICZ

SHE hails from one of the tallest acting dynasties but Jemma Redgrave believes that performing opposite Stephen Fry is, quite literally, a pain in the neck. The actress, 38, who portrays the 6ft 5ins actor’s wife in the new ITV adaptation of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, explains: “He is the tallest actor I have played against and it feels like you are looking up at the Eiffel Tower. As a result you get a crick in your neck from repetitive strain.” Jemma – daughter of actor Corin Redgrave and a respectable 5ft 8ins – has since had to cope with a further tall order in the shape of ex-Stars In Their Eyes host Matthew Kelly. The pair star in another forthcoming ITV drama Cold Blood and, like Fry, Kelly is almost a foot taller than her. “I’ll need a physiotherapist when I work with him, ” she says.

A conversation with Jemma Redgrave

TNT’s limited-run series “The Grid” premieres with a two-hour episode on Monday, July 19, and will air on subsequent Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT, winding up with a two-hour finale on Aug. 9. The show’s focus is on the escalating rise of terrorism around the world, and efforts by American and British counter-terrorist experts to contain it and, ultimately, end it.

Among the long list of stars appearing on “The Grid” are Julianna Margulies (“ER,” “Mists of Avalon”), Dylan McDermott (“The Practice”), Tom Skerritt (“Tears of the Sun”), Bernard Hill (“Lord of the Rings”), Robert Forster (“Mulholland Drive”) and Jemma Redgrave (“Howard’s End”) as Emily Tuthill, director of operations for MI-6, Britain’s intrepid anti-terrorism force.

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Jemma Redgrave says she didn’t hesitate for a moment when asked if she would like to be part of the TNT miniseries “The Grid.”

Redgrave (who is a member of the famous Redgrave acting family — her grandfather was Sir Michael Redgrave; her dad is Corin Redgrave; her aunts are Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave; and her cousins are Natasha and Joely Richardson) says, “I knew from the moment I read the script that this was something quite special. The story was, as you might imagine, chilling, given its subject matter. And also very well-written. All the characters are clearly defined: You know who everyone is, not just what everyone does. And you also see how what they do affects them as people, not just as professionals faced with, essentially, the challenge of saving civilization as we know it. And, I might add, that what you see on screen is all based on research into how both terrorists and counter-terrorists work.”

One of the elements that give “The Grid” that “special” quality that appealed to Redgrave is the way it takes note of both sides of the issue.

“We know we’re the good guys,” she says. “But the bad guys also believe that that’s what they are: that they’re doing what is right against an enemy — us — whom they believe to be wrong. And I feel that we need to know why they feel this way if we’re to be successful in dealing with them.”

(Note: The producers asked scholars of Islam to contribute to the production so that both Muslin and non-Muslim viewers would have an understanding of what the faith actually teaches and why some Muslims, as represented by the terrorists, feel that their interpretations, which defy these teachings, are valid.)

Redgrave says her character, Emily Tuthill, is a fascinating woman who has learned not only how to play the game in the world of counter-intelligence that has long been dominated by men, but to play it with exceptional skill.

“Women who step into any area once reserved for men,” Redgrave says, “have that sometimes unspoken, but always present challenge to prove themselves over and over again.”

For Emily, the challenge she has chosen for herself is to get the job done, however she has to do it, and preferably with little interference from her fellow agents.

“She’s been described as a lone wolf,” Redgrave says. “Maybe so. But as we see in the course of the series, there’s a lot more to her than might be apparent at first.”

Jemma Redgrave and her husband, Tim Owen, have two young sons. It’s been suggested that the war on terrorism might continue well into their adult years and perhaps even into the lives of her children’s children.

“I know,” she says. “And we can only hope that that won’t prove to be the case, and that somehow the forces of reason will prevail — sooner, rather than later.”

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She admits the film ‘bombed’, but Jemma Redgrave had a ball working with Charlotte Church on I’ll Be There

JEMMA Redgrave is getting a bit irate. The subject of her recent film,I’ll Be There,in which she starred alongside Charlotte Church making her acting debut,has been brought up and she’s being fiercely protective of it.

Despite its universally bad reviews, she is adamant it’s not a glitch in her career.

“I had such a good time making that film,” she says.“I remember not wanting to work for a while after that because I had such a good experience. And I didn’t work for a while, you have to be careful what you wish for don’t you?” shelaughs.

Jemma has a great laugh. It begins with a snort before evolving into a full-blown, raucous guffaw.It’s very infectious,as is her enthusiasm for I’ll Be There.

“It was very easy to hang any kind of prejudice or dislike for Charlotte on the film,” she continues.“I may well be wrong but I think it’s a delightful movie.

“I’m not stupid. I don’t think everything I’ve ever done is fantastic.I’ve done a lot of stuff where I’ve thought maybe I’m not so good,but I did think that was good.”

Jemma, 39, is equally effusive about her famous co-star.“She was entirely instinctive and very natural and brought a lot of her warmth and humour to the part,” she says.“I think,for a 16-year- old in her first part, that’s great. I couldn’t have done it at 16,I was hugely impressed by her.”

Thankfully for Jemma,one of the famous Redgrave/Richardson acting dynasty, she has more hits than misses in her career -her most notable success was the costume drama series Bramwell -and doesn’t often have to stick up for her work like this.

Her next project looks set to be another hit for the actress, the two-part psychological thriller Amnesia,on ITV1 this week,in which she stars alongside John Hannah.

She plays the wife of an amnesiac whose life is turned upside down when Hannah’s troubled detective starts investigating her husband’s past.

Despite the intense plot, Jemma found the shoot an extremely enjoyable one. Her character and her husband run a boatyard and so the actress spent the heat wave during the summer of last year filming in a harbour on the Isle Of Wight.

“I took my three-year-old son Alfie and we had a very good time,” she says.“It doesn’t get much better than filming on a harbour and as long as Alfie had a crab net and a bucket,he had plenty to do. The weather was glorious and each day I’d go and do a bit of work and then come out and count the crabs with him.”

Jemma has two children,Alfie and nine-year-oldGabriel, with her husband of 12 years,barrister Tim Owen. She refrained from offering any advice to her co-star John, who recently became a parent himself,however.

“It was very early doors when we were working together so you never do when it’s only early,” she says.“Plus I think it’s really awful to give advice about pregnancy or parenting in any way at all. If anybody was to ask me for advice I could go on until the end of time,but I certainly wouldn’t offer it without being asked.”

Jemma often keeps her children with her when she’s working. Both her sons went with her to South Africa when she filmed her previous drama for ITV,The Swap.

“Being a mother doesn’t get harder or easier,it just changes all the time,” she says.“It’s always challenging. I thought it would get easier as they get older. I thought it would be really difficult to go to work when they were babies because the bond was so strong,and that as they got older they would be more independent.

“But I’ve found that I’m completely wrong and the reverse is true. They want you home more and more as they get older. The negotiation is endless.”

Her children are part of the next generation of a family that has produced acting talents like Jemma’s grandfather Sir Michael, her aunt Vanessa,her father Corin and her cousins Natasha and Joely Richardson. Her son Gabriel is already showing signs of keeping up the family tradition of a show biz career.

“He wants to write comedy,” says Jemma.“Well, that’s what he wants to do at the moment. He loves comedy. He watches all sorts of comedy and I think he must think he’s quite funny. And he is funny.”

Jemma showed similar determination when she was growing up,deciding she wanted to follow the family tradition and become an actress when she was barely a teenager. “I was unimaginative,” shelaughs. “Didn’t I want to rebel against family tradition?No.Isn’t that boring?I’m clearly unrebellious.”

She trained by going to a youth theatre and then attending drama school and quickly started to get parts when she graduated. There seems to have been no downside to having a famous surname?

“No,” sheagrees.“It opened doors,absolutely. It doesn’t get you any jobs,producers will say they’ll never offer you a job because of your surname, you’d only get it if you’re a good actor. But it opens doors to get to those jobs and is entirely helpful. God knows you can do with every single bit of help you can get in this profession.”

Coming from a family of award- winning actors might have created a certain level of expectation from people hiring Jemma but she says she never let that bother her.

“I don’t give a toss about expectation. As long as I’m getting jobs I don’t care. You can stuff your expectations.”

That’s all she’s worried about in the future as well,just getting jobs. She has no big ambitions to make it big in Hollywood or become a household name on British television.

“What I’d like is longevity in my career and to do interesting work,” she says.“I think that is quite an ambition to have for an actress because it’s really tough. I would like to be working, that’s what I’d like.

“I don’t mind the odd bomb like I’ll Be There,” sheadds,once more guffawing.“It’s true,I’ll Be There was a bomb. But it wasn’t a stink bomb, that’s the important distinction. But it doesn’t really matter.It’s all work,it all pays the bills.”

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