Hattie Morahan: The Bletchley Circle’s New Girl

“This year has been exciting, rewarding and changing.  A Doll’s House has genuinely changed things for me, it’s been a mad year, it’s been lovely, playing Nora has now become so familiar, each rehearsal period we’ve come back to has been like getting back in to an old coat and it’s like ‘oh yes I remember this’, she’s a really interesting character to play and I really enjoy her contradictions and the strange journey she goes on and so to get to have another crack at it, it’s so complex and the play is so multi layered and so rich that it it’s just a really lovely opportunity to play Nora again”

Hattie Morahan has had an exciting year, since our last interview she has won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress a Critics Circle Award as well as an Olivier Nomination, all due to her performance as Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House¸ which had two successful runs at the Young Vic and is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End.  I meet her in her dressing room, which is scattered with copies of Ibsen and she is dressed in jeans, a striped top and her hair is tied up.

I wonder what her awards mean to her and if they have helped her career, “that’s never been the goal of what one does, it’s quite daunting to take on a part which is known and people have opinions about, it’s reassuring to know that the consensus was I didn’t screw it up,” she laughs “I don’t consider it to be totally objective, I’m aware that it’s a part that draws attention to itself and it’s a part that has history. I think the Critics Circle I was particularly proud of, as these are people who really know their stuff and have been in the game for many years between them” she smiles.

The English Touring Company recently revealed a nationwide search to find the Nation’s favourite play written in the English language, I ask what her favourite play would be, “Oh gosh I’d say Shakespeare, As You Like It

Morahan is also set to appear as one of the main cast in the second series of The Bletchley Circle, I wonder if she could tell me a little bit about the show and her role in it, “There’s a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park during the War, they signed the official secrets act so all of their work helping the government break codes means they can’t tell anyone.  It’s now 1950s austerity Britain; there aren’t opportunities for bright women to find something that’s rewarding to their capabilities. So they start solving crimes, in the true tradition of ITV Dramas.”

“I play a character  who was in Bletchley Park and who has various secrets in her past, so she’s a guest in the first two episodes and she’s in prison for a crime, a serious crime and we don’t know what it is, and shes very enigmatic, and doesn’t give much away. Then she later becomes one of the group and I would say she has a lateral brain, lateral thinking, very logical, likes system and machines and shes a sort of geek.” She smiles.

” She was great fun to play and has very strong feelings and feels passionately about the people who are important to her. Shes not very gregarious, but shes intelligent in her own way, shes lovely to play, shes called Alice. I really love playing her.”

Clearly it’s been a successful year for Morahan, coupled with television appearances, leading an award winning show in the West End, she also has time to pursue projects on the side and she recently did a reading at the National Portrait Gallery of the memoirs of artist Laura Knight whom she portrayed in A Summer in February “there’s been this lovely exhibition there and there was this fortuitous coming to together of passions where I was really pleased to read her memoirs”

The Bletchley Circle series two starts on Monday 9pm on ITV1

Naomi Jeffreys, The Rabbit and Reel

British Film Issue

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

And so, dear reader, the British Film issue is over. We have given you all of the content (and much much more) from the University newspaper.

As you well know, The Rabbit Film Section has worked tirelessly to gain exclusive interviews with actors, such as our exclusive interview with Hattie Morahan. We also work to write passionately about the things we love most about Film.

And, being a British run Blog and Newspaper, we believed that to write about the country which we love most, Britain. And to celebrate just a handful of the fantastic new directors, actors and films which we produce.

We hope you enjoyed this issue and keep coming back for more, the next issue is to be out on Campus very soon, so watch this space…

Hattie Morahan: An Exclusive Interview

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

The Rabbit Film Section has an exclusive interview with an actor who is frequently on the best London stages who is now forging her silver screen career. Check out the full interview here. 

“This is a bravura performance that elevates Morahan to the front rank of British actors.” Michael Billington’s review of Hattie Morahan in her most recent stage performance as Nora Helmer, in the critically acclaimed A Doll’s House at the Young Vic Theatre this summer. Hattie Morahan is one of those actors that every budding actor would aspire to be:  never out of work. She is an actor at the top of her game.

We meet in the National Theatre café where I bought her a coffee and we found a quiet corner to sit and chat. Fresh off the stage from a three week run at the Young Vic, Morahan is dressed simply in a cream jumper, jeans with her blonde hair tied up.  She is down to earth, intelligent and clearly loves the work she is doing.

Morahan sounds pleased with such a glowing review from Billington; “He did like it!” she exclaims. Morahan says that one of her friends texted her afterwards saying, “He sounds like your very proud father”.

Morahan – as Nora Helmer- the doll in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is flighty, flirty and childish with her husband Torvald.  Hattie Morahan produces a tour de force in stage acting – the childlike doll contrasted with a stronger, more complex side. It was a class performance in a stylish and classy production, with a rotating stage, cinematic music and a pace which never lets up.

She sheepishly confesses to not getting physically fit to play Nora before rehearsals; “I think I had all these good intentions… I was thinking, I’m going to get very fit, very healthy, because of the Tarantella and actually that never happened, I was a bit too busy”. Morahan’s Nora Helmer was rarely off stage and her performance cemented her as one of Britain’s top young actors.

The daughter of Anna Carteret and Christopher Morahan, she studied English Literature at Cambridge.  My parents are both in the industry and thought “if I wanted to act, I should get some training. My first job was an eighteen month contract with the RSC which was the perfect alternative  because I knew I wanted to do stage work, it was a real education  and it was wonderful,” Since finding recognition in the BBC adaptation of Austen’s, Sense and Sensibility in 2008, she hasn’t stopped working –  starring in television shows, theatre and radio.

Morahan often stars in boundary-pushing theatre productions including Katie Mitchell’s …some trace of her, Rupert Goold’s Time and the Conways at the National Theatre. There’s a sense in which each of these theatrical endeavours has been linked, in one way or another, to film and I asked if this had been a conscientious decision; “Do you know, it hasn’t actually, that’s really interesting you say that …they’ve all used them in different ways”.

I wonder what draws her to London theatres; “It just feels like there’s something very live and young at the moment. “There are a lot of people exploring the boundaries of what’s possible and there’s a lot of exciting new writing and people seem to be interested in taking risks. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be in theatre”.

A Summer in February is the highly anticipated film due for release around the New Year or early 2013. The film is produced by and stars Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey, Emily Browning, Dominic Cooper and of course, Morahan herself.

I ask if she could give the University of Essex students an exclusive taster of what to expect; “It’s based on real events, real characters and is a love triangle, it’s quite sad, passionate, romantic and is about a particular group of artists, down in Lamorna in Cornwall. Emily Browning plays a young girl and art student in Cornwall who becomes romantically involved with two men and it all goes terribly wrong”

Morahan goes on to talk about her character, “Dame Laura Knight” she smiles, evidently proud of her part. “She is an extraordinary, well-known British painter who is married to another painter and it’s this rather wonderful Bohemian wild, seaside life, full of art and parties and friendship”

Her preparation for portraying a real life artist was detailed: she researched as much as she could:  “I think it’s useful to know what’s out there, you look at her paintings, she wrote a number of autobiographies and is a force of nature – very inspiring, I mean you just work out what the essence of the person is and what motivates them”.  Morahan finishes, taking a pause for a sip of coffee.

Two of the stars, Dominic Cooper and Dan Stevens, are actors she has previously worked with in Sense and Sensiblity.  I wonder whether this makes the filming process easier; “I think it’s lovely to come on jobs and know people already and it’s a wonderful shorthand to immediately feel at home with someone” she reflects.

A Summer in February is set pre first world war and I wonder why audiences are so drawn to period dramas; “I think there’s something escapist about it because it’s in a different era and different when it comes to romantic things, there were far more strictures on people’s lives and obstacles and different pressures on people which make for good drama,”

Morahan has worked hard to achieve her goals.  I ask her if she has any advice for any budding actors at the University. “I really believe there’s no one path, drama school offers a showcase and offers training in technique, but a lot of people do learn on the job.  See as much work as you can, seek to improve yourself, work out the kind of work you’re drawn to, but mainly just keep at it, keep trying to work out what is good and try to keep achieving excellence”

Hattie Morahan was great company during our interview – interesting, funny, and eager to talk about her upcoming projects. What is she doing next? Well, she is set to star in the Almeida Theatre’s new play, The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, “which is a play about a community of poets in Herefordshire.  I play Helen Thomas who is the wife of the poet Edward Thomas and it’s mainly about Edward Thomas and his friendship with Robert Frost. It’s all set before the war and it’s lovely, very beautiful play”

You can see Hattie Morahan at the Almeida Theatre from 8th November 2012 till the 12th January 2013.

A Summer in February set to be released on Friday 14th June 2013