Old interview #4: “The Retiring Redgrave”

Daily Mail (London)

March 4, 1993, Thursday

THE RETIRING REDGRAVE

BYLINE: Katy Macdonald

AS A third-generation member of the famous thespian dynasty, Jemma Redgrave has acting in her blood. She is the daughter of Corin, niece of Vanessa and Lynn, granddaughter of the late Sir Michael, and cousin of Joely and Natasha.

Jemma, 28, has taken leading roles on stage in such classics as Cyrano de Bergerac and As You Like It, and played Alan Alda’s leading lady in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. From next week she stars in Anthony Burgess’ new version of the Russian comedy Chatsky at London’s Almeida Theatre.

Her parents split up during Jemma’s teenage years, with her mother Deirdre declaring that Corin, a member of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, was trying to turn her into ‘Mrs Lenin’. Jemma divided her time between both parents. Last year she married her barrister boyfriend Tim Owen, and they live in Kentish Town.

* YOUR FAVOURITE CLOTHES?
‘Apart from jeans I have an English Eccentrics shirt that I live in. It’s got acorns and wonderful swirling patterns. I bought it two years ago and walked out of the shop wearing it. I like Nicole Farhi’s jumpers since they last for ever and are one designer item you can buy conscience-free, whereas I couldn’t possibly buy one of her tiny T-shirts for £100, or whatever they cost. At Christmas I tried on a fantastic Vivienne Westwood bodice with extraordinary angels and a tight velvet shirt. I was tempted, but I didn’t have the guts to spend so much on something I wouldn’t wear very often.’

* YOUR FAVOURITE SHOES?
‘A pair of old-fashioned plimsolls, which are very hard to get now. I’ve worn them to death and they’re full of holes, but I can’t find a replacement pair. Incredibly loud trainers are all that’s on offer in most shops. I have a pair of platform shoes, but they raise me to 5ft 10in – I’m 5ft 8in without them – making me feel terribly tall and intimidating. I bought my long suede boots from Russell & Bromley and I wear them with leggings and skirts. You have to be careful when you wear them with minis, though, otherwise you can look as if you’ve stepped out of the Starship Enterprise.’

Old interview #3: “Name of the game; Jemma Redgrave”

Name of the game; INTERVIEW: JEMMA REDGRAVE

BYLINE: James Rampton

Actress Jemma Redgrave runs a mile when she hears the word “dynasty”. It’s not that she has a loathing of glitzy American soaps; it’s just that when your grandfather is Michael Redgrave, your father Corin Redgrave, your aunts Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave, and your cousins Natasha and Joely Richardson, the word tends to attach itself to you like a barnacle to the bottom of an old boat.

So it is with no little feeling that Jemma Redgrave expresses her delight that she is finally being viewed as an actress in her own right, irrespective of her famous name.

All the same, she claims her name was never a passport to work. “Nobody ever seriously thinks you get a job because of your name, because if you can’t do it, you don’t work. They might trot you round the paddock, but they’re not going to put you in for the race if you’re not up to it.

“At drama school, I felt I was getting away with it, I felt outside things. I would have good attempts but I could always hear my own voice. Now I feel connected. I don’t care what other people think, because I feel I’ve established myself.”

And she’s right. Her performances in the title role of Bramwell on ITV, as Sir Oswald’s wife in Channel 4’s Mosley, and as the lover in The Buddha of Suburbia on BBC2 have placed her at the forefront of TV performers.

In all Redgrave’s roles, viewers are drawn to her warmth and humanity. One critic observed that what marked her out was “her sense of heart”. Think of the poignant look of hurt that crossed her face when her husband (Jonathan Cake) in Mosley had the gall to blame her for his serial philandering. “People say you are so lovable, and I am so interesting,” he sneered. “I will try to be more lovable, if you’ll try to be more interesting.”

Bramwell, showing in two World Cup-busting feature-length episodes this week, was the show that really made her. Created by the acclaimed writer Lucy Gannon, the character – a doctor battling against prejudice and scant resources in the East End of Victorian London is both feisty and fiery.

A tall, elegant figure in a blue dress and pale cardigan, Redgrave reckons that “the good thing about Eleanor is that she’s not ingratiating. People say to me, ‘God, I want to slap her sometimes.’ And so do I. I think, ‘calm down, and just count to 10’. She frequently puts her foot in it, and she’s not afraid to be bad-tempered. But a lot of people identify with her strength and her determination, and her will to forge a career for herself in a male-dominated profession. That strikes a chord even now. She’s headstrong, bloody-minded, passionate and difficult, but naive and vulnerable at the same time. It’s a good rich mixture.”

Viewers have also been attracted, Redgrave admits, by the often gory hospital scenes. “People are fascinated by Victorian medicine because it’s so gruesome. A hundred years ago, they were removing a woman’s ovaries for what is now called post-natal depression.”

This is all of a piece with the gritty feel which distinguishes Bramwell from the chocolate-box look of much costume drama. “It’s less well-pressed than a lot of other period drama. It looks cold in the same way that Persuasion did – people are crumpled and muddy. There is a sense in Bramwell of a time when there was no central heating. It was freezing in that hospital. Poverty was filthy and not glamorous in any way.”

For all Redgrave’s success over three series in Bramwell, it was Mosley that grabbed the most headlines. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran’s drama copped a great deal of flak for supposedly glamorising the British fascist leader. “It was obvious the series was going to be a talking-point, but I had no idea it was going to be so controversial. People asked whether it should have been made. The answer is yes.
“Mosley was a despicable monster, but he was part of our particular history. It was because Mosley was charismatic, fantastically articulate and a brilliant speaker that he was so dangerous. You can’t help thinking, ‘what a waste that a man with such promise and talent should have thrown it away and espoused such an evil cause’.”

“It’s now a very febrile time in Europe,” Redgrave says. “There are fascist movements in Russia and the Balkans. We must look at people like Mosley and understand them, so we don’t repeat our mistakes.”

Despite her telly hits, for a long time Redgrave had the makings of a severe case of stage-fright. “I hadn’t been anywhere near the theatre for five years. I went to a first night a year ago, and I got a panic attack. I thought, ‘how can they possibly do it when they know Michael Coveney the Daily Mail theatre critic and Nicholas de Jongh from the Evening Standard are sitting out there sharpening their pencils?'”

All that changed when Peter Hall persuaded her to take the lead in his production of Major Barbara at the Piccadilly Theatre in London. “She’s such a surprising character,” Redgrave enthuses. “You have certain expectations and preconceptions about a Salvation Army major of the early Edwardian period. She subverts them with her humour and humanity.”

Earnest, passionate, engaged, Redgrave displays a commitment to her work that she says she learnt from her father. “He has huge integrity and believes that one should be serious about what one does. I’ll end up in “Luvvies” for this, but there is value and weight in what we do.

“Gombrich says that you respond to painting because there’s something familiar in it that you understand even if it’s abstract. It illuminates and you connect with it. So whether it’s painting, opera or theatre, it’s important that you don’t short-change people. If you don’t take something seriously, what’s the point in doing it?”

‘Bramwell’ is on Mon and Thur at 8pm on ITV.

LOAD-DATE: June 15, 1998

Old interview #2: “MY PERFECT WEEKEND – Country gatherings and card games are a winning hand for actress Jemma Redgrave”

The Daily Telegraph (LONDON)

May 31, 2008 Saturday

MY PERFECT WEEKEND Country gatherings and card games are a winning hand for actress Jemma Redgrave

BYLINE: Interview by Yvonne Swann

A perfect weekend for me would be reminiscent of the weekends of my childhood. It would be just like the recent bank holiday when I stayed with friends in Norfolk with my husband [barrister Tim Owen] and our sons Gabriel, 14, and Alfie, eight. No weekend could be perfect if the children and my Labrador weren’t part of it.

The sun was shining and the Norfolk light in the mornings was magical, glowing on the views over the salt marshes towards the sea.
It was idyllic. There was a little boat and we sailed out on the ocean waves and watched the seals and wild birds at Blakeney Point. We went for long walks, read the papers and the dads played football with the boys.
That really is my ideal weekend: lots of children and games. As well as table tennis, card games with good friends is brilliant. You laugh so much, but it’s also seriously competitive.

We also like to play “First Lines” with the children. We find a book, read the blurb off the back jacket and everybody has to write down what they think the first line might be. You win if you pick the real first line out of everyone’s efforts and you win if your invented first line gets the most votes. It’s ridiculous fun and the sort of communal living among friends that I love.
We live in London and don’t get away to the country much at weekends, because my sons have a busy social and sporting life in the city. They love their football and cricket. Country breaks are very special to me.

As a child, I have very fond memories of being with my maternal grandparents, who lived in Shepperton, right on the Thames, in the grounds of a big house. There was always a dinghy nearby. My grandfather had been in the Navy and was a great sailor. I remember boating with him and in my mind it seems to have been forever summer there. We had a lot of freedom. We’d go off by ourselves and fish for pike. I also remember a lot of croquet in the grounds of the big house on summer evenings. It was lovely.

My paternal grandmother [actress Rachel Kempson, Lady Redgrave] had a cottage in Hampshire and I used to stay with her regularly. It was different again. She had a dog, which I adored, and those memories seem to be autumnal -all about bonfires and beautiful woods.

My mother [Deirdre Hamilton-Hill] had a vintage clothes stall in an antiques market in the King’s Road in London and took a stall in the Portobello Road to sell the leftovers. I used to go with her to the markets on Saturdays and was sometimes left in charge of the stall. As I had no idea what I was doing, I sold wonderful things for a pittance. At the time, I didn’t like the old clothes at all. Like most children, I was quite conservative and wanted a conventional life. I yearned for Marks & Spencer, not Victorian gowns. I’d love to have the whole stall now.

When I was little, I saw a Play for Today on the BBC about a Jacobean village. Clothes arrived in the village full of plague-carrying fleas. The play marked me. I was absolutely convinced that some terrible disease was going to be shipped in with the old clothes when they arrived at our house. I’d skirt the walls in terror.

In later years, I grew close to my paternal grandfather, the actor Michael Redgrave, who was divorced from my Hampshire grandmother. He taught me to play canasta, which is where my love of cards comes from. My father [actor Corin Redgrave] taught me poker when I was 10 and I still like to play it at weekends.

My recent Norfolk weekend was entirely wonderful because it was closely linked to my childhood memories and to the days when my parents were still together. We’d all gather for heavenly weekends with lots of friends, grandparents and children. Could anything be better than that? I don’t think so.

Jemma Redgave is starring in the play The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, at Chichester Festival Theatre until next Saturday.

Old interview #1: “Jemma’s survived the curse of Craig”

The Express
LEADER; JEMMA’S SURVIVED THE CURSE OF CRAIG
December 6, 2003

ONE of the great things about the British film industry is the way it gives young, up-andcoming talents such as Craig Ferguson a chance to make a name for themselves – and then totally blow it.

I’ll Be There, is a particular case in point because not only is Ferguson making his directing debut but he was actually an actor whose career has been blighted by a string of roles in low-budget movies like The Big Tease and Modern Vampires. As the eight other people in the audience of my local cinema will testify on the night I went to see it, I’ll Be There was flat and characterless.

Then, to make things worse, he probably ruined any future movie career prospects for opera singer Charlotte Church. For the uninitiated, in the film she played knackered Eighties rock star Ferguson’s love child who arrives on the scene to halt his downward spiral.
Referring to my notes from that fateful screening, I see: “I’m willing to bet that the first shattered atom split more sedately than the audience rushing out of the auditorium today.”

Presumably, Ferguson also realised how rotten it was and gave up directing.
To my great relief, Jemma Redgrave (she of the great acting dynasty) actually agrees with me.
Let’s face it, she should know, she co-starred in the movie as Charlotte’s reformed groupie mother.

“It’s true, the film was a bomb, ” Jemma admitted. “But it wasn’t a stink bomb. That’s the distinction.
“I don’t give a damn, really. It would have been better for them and, of course, nice for me if it had been a success. But the experience was great. So it doesn’t really matter.”
Tragically, it does when your first film swiftly heads for the bargain basement DVDs bins at Woolies. Though Jemma thinks it would be unfair to drum the flick out of the Brownies altogether.
“It absolutely does what it says on the tin, ” she continued. “It’s charming and funny. The thing is that it’s Charlotte’s first film and I think she’s terrific in it, actually.
“She was very natural and brought a lot of warmth and humour to the part. I think, for a 16 year old in her first film part, she excelled. I couldn’t have done it at 16. I was hugely impressed by her.
“She’s also a delightful young woman. She has got that great Welsh work ethic thing. Hard working, intelligent, funny, sparky. And she sings.
IREMEMBER thinking I didn’t want to work for a while after that I had such a good experience.” You have to be careful what you wish for, don’t you, because Jemma didn’t work for a long while afterwards.

She is back on track now, though, and returns to television in the New Year in the company of another Scot, East Kilbride’s own John Hannah.They star together in ITV’s two-part thriller, Amnesia, in which she plays a marbles-scrambled cop who suspects her memory-scarred husband of having murdered his first wife. And know what? It’s very good.

Thanks to Dawn for this interview. We got more to come so stay tuned…

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.

***

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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10 Wild things about drama doc Jemma

Actress Jemma Redgrave is back as pioneering Victorian medic Eleanor Bramwell in a new ten-part ITV series.

The award-winning Bramwell (Monday, 9pm) has firmly established Jemma as yet another star from the Redgrave family. Here are ten things you never knew about her.

\AS A third-generation member of the famous Redgrave theatrical dynasty, Jemma, 30, has acting in her blood. She is the daughter of Corin, niece of Vanessa and Lynn, granddaughter of the late Sir Michael, and cousin of Joely and Natasha Richardson.

BEING a Redgrave didn’t guarantee an acting career and she admits struggling at drama school. “I’m very proud of my family name,” she says. “Maybe it does open doors – people are more willing to see you because they are curious. But it doesn’t mean success.”

HER mother, Deirdre, split from her father when Jemma was in her teens. “I married into a wild bunch of the most illustrious, talented, pig-headed, idealistic and controversial people. It was a privilege I wouldn’t have missed,” says Deirdre.

JEMMA, who has a younger brother Luke, had an unorthodox childhood. “My mother was quite avant garde. She took me to see a Siouxsie And The Banshees concert when I was 13, which made me the envy of my friends -and scared me to death,” she says.

SHE is 5ft 8in, but was overweight as a youngster. Her favourite food is smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

“I ate for comfort when my parents split up, but I started losing weight around the time of my first ever date,” she says.

THERE was a storm of protest four years ago when she starred in The Buddha Of Suburbia.

During the controversial series she did her ironing in the nude, writhed naked with Anthony Sher and took part in an explicit orgy scene.

“I would do it all again if I wanted to play a part as badly as I did that one,” she says.

SHE wed barrister Tim Owen, 39,in July 1992. They live in north London and have a three year-old son Gabriel who visits her on the set of Bramwell. “He is very well behaved and know when to be quiet when filming starts,” says Jemma.

HER most frightening experience was watching the Childcatcher entice the children in to his cage in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

“My brother was three and wet himself. I had to be enticed out from behind my seat in the cinema,” she says.

JEMMA is an accomplished stage actress, starring with her aunts Vanessa and Lynn in The Three Sisters and romantic comedy Chatsky. She also starred in the Oscar-winning Howard’s End with Emma Thompson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

TWO of her acting heroines are Ava Gardner and Ingrid Bergman.

“They were both strong and feminine at the same time,” she says.

Jemma is surprised and delighted how successful Bramwell has become. “I had no idea how well it would be received,” she says.

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Gale Warning; BLUE MURDER

PEAK Practice star Gary Mavers doubles up from his regular medical role to play a copper in this one-off thriller tonight.

As Det Sgt Adam Ross, he is drawn into a web of adultery, deception and murder when he falls for the rich, beautiful and mysterious Gale Francombe (Jemma Redgrave).

But no sooner has he started an affair with this femme fatale, than he meets another woman who, in other circumstances, would probably have been his ideal partner.

Adam and Gale meanwhile plan what they believe will be the perfect murder.

As a cop who would be given the job of investigating himself, Adam thinks he will be able to cover all of the angles and leave the murder unsolved. But life is never that simple…

Jemma says: “Gale is completely cold-hearted and calculating, which was an irresistible challenge after playing someone was intensely warm as Eleanor in Bramwell.

I really liked the contrast, plus the fact that Gale was so open to interpretation.

“She’s a real chameleon. Just as you think you’re working her out, she changes again. …

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Jemma and her baby from hell – The Acid House interview

Genteel English rose Jemma Redgrave is set to stun cinema audiences in a shock Jock movie…

Playing mum to the Scots baby from hell!

For Ms Redgrave has joined Irvine Welsh’s gravy train and is about to be seen in the sickest movie idea of the year – a drugs shocker, The Acid House.

The plot turns on a teenage drug fiend (Ewen Bremner) who swaps personalities with a newborn baby.

At nine months, the weird bairn swears like a trooper, supports Hibs and spells out his needs… mostly booze and to be taken on to the terracing at Easter Road!

“When I got the script I thought it the most bizarre thing I have ever read,” says Jemma.

The role highlights Jemma’s versatility.

The 32-year-old member of the Redgrave acting dynasty stars as the Fascist leader’s first wife, Cimmie Curzon, in the Mosley series which began on Channel 4 on Thursday.

And she will be back on our TV screens as the prim Victorian, Doc Bramwell.

“After two years of period drama, to go to Glasgow and wear jeans and swear a lot and work with Martin Clunes was Nirvana,” she says.

The Acid House, which hits cinemas this spring, stars Martin Clunes, of Men Behaving Badly, as the shell-shocked dad.

It’s a tale of a jobless druggie tripping on LSD one night through Edinburgh’s West Pilton Park during a thunderstorm.

As he passes an ambulance in which a woman is giving birth, a bolt of lightning triggers the personality swap.

The mother suspects something is wrong when she smells booze on her child’s breath.

“It was quick tricky,” says Jemma. “I was followed around by four puppeteers working bits of the baby.”

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Acting World’s latest Redgrave has a British take on Dr. Quinn

We’re concluding our “quotes by Jemma” series with another interview from 1996 where Jemma talked about the complexity of her character Eleanor Bramwell. You can read the interview below:

You’ve heard of the Redgrave sisters: Vanessa and Lynn. Then, there’s their father, Sir Michael, and Vanessa’s acting daughters, Natasha and Joely Richardson. Now meet Jemma Redgrave – England’s answer to Dr. Quinn.

Redgrave stars in “Bramwell,” a four-part “Masterpiece Theatre” series that concludes at 9 p.m. Sunday on PBS (Channel 28). The British actress plays a Victorian-era doctor who perseveres through the prejudices of the time, much like our own homespun frontier doc, CBS’ Michaela Quinn.

“She’s very complex, and contradictory. She’s so courageous, bold and unconventional for her time,” says Redgrave of her character, Dr. Eleanor Bramwell. “And, she’s vulnerable. She’s naive about men and relationships.”

“Bramwell” runs as a regular TV series in England; here, new episodes of the series will run as another four-part series, slated for the fall.

The daughter of actor Corin Redgrave (Vanessa’s brother) and his wife, Deidre, Redgrave says she knew from an early age she wanted to act.

“I don’t know – it’s in the genetic code, I guess,” she says.

There were trepidations.

“The only reservations I had about acting is that I didn’t know whether I had an aptitude for it,” she says. Until, that is, she received “incredible notices” for her stage debut, in a play called “Easter,” and her mind was set at ease.

“Then I felt absolutely sure that I wasn’t going to embarrass my family,” she says.

Now, how would she feel if her son Gabriel, now 2, decided to follow in the footsteps of the theatrical Redgrave family, rather than in those of her husband, Tim, a lawyer?

“I think I’d just try and encourage him – and give him a few phone numbers,” she says, laughing.

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