I just stumbled across an interview that Helena did with BBC Two about her character Margot Tyrrell in the recently aired Turks & Caicos and the upcoming Salting the Battlefield. Read a little snippet below and click more for the full interview.
How did you get involved in the films?
I got involved via the usual route in that my agent phoned up and asked if I had seen Page Eight? I’ve known Bill for years, but I’ve only admired David from a distance. I knew I was going to say yes before I’d read the script. I watched Page Eight when it first transmitted. I found it stylish, sexy and cool and I thought, “why wasn’t I in it?” I’d only ever worked on a radio play with Bill though I’ve always wanted to do more with him. Also it was good for me to make something modern and this was a script that was unadorned and straight.
Did you know Bill before?
Yes I did. I’ve known Bill for years. We ended up doing Private Lives on the radio. He’s such a physical actor; I love the way he moves. He uses his whole body and is so funny.
Where do we meet Margot Tyrell and how does she fit into the two films?
Margot works for a businessman called Stirling Rogers. Johnny has figured out that Stirling has some connection with these rather shady Americans that he’s watching in Turks & Caicos. On a personal level Margot was in quite a serious relationship with Johnny but they broke up four years before this starts. So Johnny contacts her. He’s in
exile, disgraced and discredited from MI5.
What does Margot mean to Johnny?
I asked David that and he said Margot was the cleverest woman in Britain and because Johnny is the cleverest man in Britain Margot is the only woman that Johnny is vulnerable to.
Do you see Christopher Walken’s character Curtis as an equal or an opposite to Johnny?
Pelissier’s character is deeply unethical where Johnny’s behaviour is impeccable when it comes to honour and decency. However the same cannot be said when analysing his personal relationships with Margot and his daughter.
What was it like working with Rupert Graves again?
Rupert and I go way back to A Room with a View, which was a film I made 28 years ago and we played brother and sister. I’ve never played opposite him romantically and I’m still unsure if there’s a romance between Margot and Stirling. The thing about Rupert is that he’s so fundamentally good as a person. It’s really good to see him play someone who’s slightly dodgy. He’s so observant as an actor.
What happens to Margot after Turks & Caicos?
When Johnny and Margot leave Turks & Caicos they go on the run for three months. However, because of their history they slide back into a relationship, which is entirely forced by their situation.
How does Margot interact with the character of Rollo?
Rollo is Johnny’s all and without him Johnny and Margot wouldn’t have been able to do anything. He runs Margot like an agent, gets her onside and then protects her. It’s a three-person team; it’s not just Johnny and Margot.
What can you tell us about Margot’s relationship with Julianne?
Margot is very close to Julianne and virtually brought her up. She is very aware of Johnny’s shortcomings as a lover and as a father, and is always compensating for that.
Why do you think Margot is an important character to the plot?
I think she shines a light on his deep flaws. He always puts work before the relationship, whether the relationship is with his lover or his daughter.
What do you admire in David as a director?
David is very perceptive of actors and knows how fragile we are. It’s a luxury working with a writer who is also a director and who knows a lot about acting. Perhaps because he’s acted himself he knows how to get a performance out of us. He’s also unbelievably unstressed about where to put the camera.
Why do you think so many film actors are moving towards working in television now?
For me it was David, Bill, the script and the quality of writing. I think it always comes down to the quality of the writing. I’ve never been a snob about television versus film. In some ways with television you know people are going to watch it. In film you could make a beautiful independent movie and three people will see it. It’s so gratifying to know that a certain number of people will actually watch and appreciate your work.