Michelle Dockery and Douglas Henshall on Network

good afternoon everybody my name is Yasmine Khan and I’ll be your chair for this afternoon just to let you know we’re going to have a little chat here and we’ll have about I think about 30-40 minutes for that and then we will come to you for questions at the end and if I could respectfully ask that if you have a question stick your hand up and I will repeat your question back so we make sure we get it but to please do ask a question and not make a statement if that’s okay just give you some answers and I believe I’m right in saying that it’s no photos’ this afternoon as well so without further ado we will get into this and before we start can I just ask has everyone or most of you here seen the play yes okay in that case I will do their introduction because that is a polite and proper thing to do but please welcome Michelle Dockery and Douglas seneschal so I was in last night and I for me I watched the film for the first time two or three months ago and I was blown away by the film but last night I’m still reeling from from the play last night the set is astounding and amazing but before we come to any of that how has it been to rehearse this lie quite literally how did you rehearse this well it was like doing a seven week tech technical rehearsal I mean from from day one we were in costume which is very unusual to have your costume fitting before you even start rehearsing and we were coming into a space that had you know the video screen there and the camera technicians and so it was you know you were really kind of thrown in from the start I mean it was difficult to imagine what it would look like but it was looking back you know extremely important from the beginning to get used to all of the technical aspects straightaway yeah and were you a long time looking and working on the text or was it straight up on its feet no ebo has a thing for he likes actors to be off the book for day one so I was mostly off the book I remember being terrified because I’m the terribly last minute with anything and I was I was thinking I think I just I don’t know it all I wonder if I’m gonna get sacked in the first day because I don’t know oh yeah I remember walking into the read-through and that was the only thing I was nervous about wasn’t nervous about the play or MDL so it’s just yeah and and that was quite I mean I understand why that was very wide by evil likes to work that way and because it stops all that thing of of having to constantly be stopping and starting with the text because I think the way that he looks at it is that he wants to be able to work and the idea of actors not being off the book stops him being able to kind of orchestrate things the way he wants to so I understand why it works from him but it was a bit it’s a bit weird for for me as an actor in the theatre anyway because you know I probably just because I’m old but you know if you’re brought up in a kind of British theatrical tradition you kind of fifty percent of what you’re going to do comes from whoever your acting partner is in a scene you know because the way in which you respond to somebody or the way in which you say your lines fifty percent of that is because of how the other person is either reacting or speaking with you so to have learned all those it’s hard to get rid of learned responses or your head but um I think if I was to do again now I’ll be much better prepared for it but it did throw me for a little while but and also just the whole idea of having I remember I counted in one day having 20 other people in a room that weren’t actors is bizarre in the stage because normally you’ve got maybe the most three or four and you know whether everybody it was like really like you were walking into an edition every day it was very very intense but you know I mean it was exciting but I did feel like geez there was no kind of like oh I remember when this happened when we were doing sex in such a play there was no stories or anything like that was like just laser-focused kind of everyday I guess you didn’t even have time to be even a little bit starstruck

about Brian and that that way of working that you described excuse me it doesn’t feel like as you say a particularly British theater way of working you spend a long time you know with the text talking about it mulling it over mulling it over the topics and of course we’ll come to this because it’s a very prescient play but it seems like there was no time even for those conversations or it was a different way of working well I wonder if it was even even more so with this play because of the because of the enormity of it I wonder if you know the process on Hedda gobbler was was slightly different and maybe there was a little bit more room for that type of rehearsal it just it felt like there was so much to do and so many things going on that there wasn’t the time for it and also EVO works from 11:00 to 4:00 every day so it’s very intense in that time and it’s very formulaic so like like we said you go from the beginning of the play to the end of the play but actually we didn’t finish the end of the play did we show us we ended up doing the last scene so up and from when Jensen walks away and when I go and have a paddy in the in the in the box we didn’t we hadn’t done any of that in rehearsal so we were coming onto the stage with this unfinished feeling you know that you’re I mean you’re never quite prepared when you go on stage but you hadn’t actually rehearsed that bit I’d naturally don’t know but so much of it you you don’t really know until you’re on stage with a play like this like you can never really imagine what it’s going to feel like and especially having we were just saying having a restaurant there with the public having a lovely five course meal and that was something we were really apprehensive about we such an unusual thing and and what I what surprised me about it actually is I I like that feeling of us being onstage with the audience it that us and them thing is is the gap is closed and even that that whole pre-call at the beginning when you can see us getting ready and at first I was like surely we can’t do that practice before we come onstage in character and of course now I I really enjoy that part of it and it actually it for me it calms my nerves a little bit being able to kind of see your audience before you come out and play the role the idea of your on paper must have been yeah it was just different just very very different yeah have you have there been have the audience been behaving on stage have there been any moments from the guys that work in the restaurant who are serving the meals and all that kind of stuff and apparently there was there was one audience member who turned up one night and I think there whoever they were coming with hadn’t turned up and they got a bit pissed and they got so pissed that they said we put a bucket next because you don’t like the idea that if somebody says look there’s some things a bit pissed and they might be sick and things like that especially when you know you you know I’m you know you’re doing scenes at the bar or sitting in the restaurant you thought well who is it one of them or yeah I live um very intimate scene at this table I was watching last night the guy behind you was very respectfully British Lee going interactive for the guys to watch that on the screen to see they watch people’s reactions more than they watch just because every night it’s different and it’s I’d love to be able to see that and some yeah but last night women watching their what watching their husband yes looking at all yeah trying does to playing something very interesting in their glass know what’s going on I think the guy last night I’m sorry for him by the way is hilarious I just thought any minute now he’s gonna go well it’s been quite cold recently hasn’t it [Laughter] obviously so it’s a film that we you know is notorious and well-known how familiar were you both with it and did you make a point of seeing it or not seeing it beforehand Michelle for you was it I I saw the film just once when I was offered the role so I you know I hadn’t seen it before it obviously heard about it but I watched it and that was it and I didn’t go back to it and you know for me that was very important not to make too many comparisons with the role and and actually evos quite encouraging he

didn’t you know we didn’t really talk about the film at all during rehearsals it’s but of course it’s an incredible film and but it’s nice to be able to also just go yes that and this is this is this exactly yeah and your characters cuz I’m not just saying this too cruel but you you are younger than to me the character in the film yeah well I mean I mean that didn’t make any difference to me at all I mean I mean I need to film very well because I love it I think it’s great film I mean it did in some aspects I don’t know how well it’s aged but and it’s funny because I knew that this play was happening cuz I had friends who were going up for it and I thought you know because William Holden was you know a little bit older than me I can I thought well there’ll be nothing for me in that but I thought I’ll go back and watch the film anyway and so I’d watched it again and then it this came up and I don’t like watching things to close to go into a house um because when you start rehearsing alone and something you’re bearing or at least I am I’m very suggestible and you know if you get stuck you can kind of think what did William Holden do yeah and so I didn’t really want any of that in my head and you know as Michelle said evil never referenced the film once nobody neither did Brian nobody kind of reference but in the film it was a bit like you know there was none of that which is great because it’s really not helpful it’s always best to just work with what you’ve got you know yeah make some ways I wish I hadn’t have changed it yeah I would have waited and watched it at the end because you do you naturally do that thing don’t you mmm because you you have this vision of what that scene was like in the film and it is hard to to put that away away yeah and when you look at it now obviously with all the audio/visual elements and everything that’s an incredibly busy stage but is it a play that is filmic or was it the film originally that is actually in itself quite theatrical I think it’s the film’s very theatrical I mean even I mean paddy Chayefsky script is theatrical and I think well I think you know anything that’s sent unused room because I think a newsrooms theatrical and itself I mean I mean you know I’ve never worked in one but you know from the people that I know that do I mean I think it’s a very pressurized situation you know and anything like that you know raises you know your way of being but also I mean the the performances I mean when you look at I mean know so much William Holden actually I mean I think he’s quite hailed but when you look at you know especially you know Robert Duvall and Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway you know I mean they’re they’re big big performances you know I mean it was the style of the time really wasn’t it as well and all the better for that but I which is why I kind of it always surprised me that nobody’d got around to doing a you know that there are various novel before it’s um I must admit for me I do think how is this going to work on stage and it’s a it’s amazing to see it for me it draws a lot of parallels of you know things that we say about the media at the moment is what pulls focus and a lot the time I don’t if it’s just me but I was watching all of you but I found my eyes drawn to the screen which is of course the parable of our times this is we live we live by the screen do you feel like you’re you’re working with what you’re working would you ever feel like you’re fighting the the other elements the screens and what have you I don’t I mean I try not I think I worried that I would I would during rehearsal it felt like how is this gonna all work and you know as I said it was difficult to imagine but no I mean it’s it’s it’s exciting I mean every night you know coming in from the South Bank doing doing that scene it’s just every night it feels like we’re doing something so cool with that I mean it’s do you do that every night that’s yeah yeah yeah no I’m you know what I want to say that to people because their motive people they kind of go well that’s a pre record doesn’t it you know I think it’s entirely my fault that because it depends on when we walk it’s it depends on the dialogue guys that cut happens there and I sometimes feel like if I don’t move into that dialogue fast enough it feels like a car so it’s always I’m always sort of trying to I’m taking full responsibility for it but but but we did actually use the pre records one once it was a matinee wasn’t it when it was really rainy and windy outside and it’s not just actually we could brave the elements and do it it could be fun but it’s actually about signal because they couldn’t actually pick up because he but we pre we did the pre record in the technical rehearsal so

that was back in November so Dougie and I were going oh my god like we did the performances so we’ve you know we’ve kind of evolved a bit since then and I didn’t want to watch it I felt it was live last night then thought oh no surely it can’t be because I’m sure it was chucking it down but clearly to do that yeah and apparently someone said oh it looks like it’s cleared up out there [Laughter] it’s live every night Wow and again I’m presume you haven’t had any mishaps where there’s people jogging past a bit lively at the weekend yeah I can about a drink at the BFI one of the first times that we did it there’s kind of one of those military boot camp 10 kilometers right and then they stop in the courtyard just outside the front of the Nacional and they do you know star jumps and old kind of with this big kind of so did you do to shout oh no well thank we our stage manager very you know who are always you know the heroes in situations like I just went over and kind of said can you please stop for like five minutes while we do this and they were very nice and then there was an email conversation that happened on thank us we had to find where they were because you thought we can’t invest you know for the next six months three months or whatever and so they developed polite email you know dialogue and they agreed to turn up a little bit later so it solved the problem the other thing yeah Paddington was getting shown at the BFI and so there was all these trucks we came outside to get ready to do it and we suddenly there was all these trucks that weren’t supposed to be there and they’d already started cordon and off the whole area so we couldn’t go to where we’d done it we couldn’t we we could nicely physically do it the way we did it so we to improvise and come from the other end and just kind of do a commander which is the idea that was Paddington yeah I think so yeah Hugh Bonneville yes I suppose so we come to the the themes of the play I don’t know if it was just that it was ahead of its time in what it was saying or that it just seems particularly relevant and prescient now what it what are your thoughts I don’t know I find it very depressing because you know paddy Chayefsky was saying this in 1975 and I’m sure that somebody equally clever was saying in 75 and we still haven’t got it yet so I just constantly feel like we’re constantly being told that this is the thing that you should be scared of and this is the thing that you should be doing something about and everybody’s kind of going AHA yeah yes that terribly scary and we’re still here in about four years on and still not doing anything about it I find it quite kind of like God but humina is fabulous what he was pre-empting and the idea of reality television and the internet I mean it’s astounding really yeah I mean that first that scene that our first scene together I mean that the footage of the massacre in Detroit you know that’s you know it’s like seeing a youtube video now yeah you know we’re used to seeing that whereas desensitized yeah yeah it’s like he predicted what was to come what a for both of you what’s your own relationship with with news how do you you avid sort of Twitter followers do you just watch one bullet in a night how do you consume news gone like I have I’m I sign up to the Guardian so I get my emails every day and that’s the only way that I that’s your way on Twitter I get my news from from people that I follow on Twitter because I don’t our media is as far as I’m concerned is it’s weaponized now and there’s no pretense really objectivity and so I’d rather find things that I feel are more objective and less loaded one way or the other and the best way that I found to do that now is people I respect and admire journalists online who pop up articles with the idea of reading this and I go there for my news so that’s where again and I mean I know it’s it’s it’s a minefield trying to read anything these days because the idea of alternative fact so you know I mean this great line that Hackett says and play you know when I say to Michelle you know I’ll put in the hospital before I let you exploit them like a carnival freak

and Haken says you get your psychiatrist I’ll get mine and it’s you know that seems to be the way of news now it’s very very difficult you can get you know a bunch of experts to say anything you like literally none on the flip side of it was a line you have Michele about Artie he he’s articulating everyone’s rage which is of course what social media has allowed people to do and there’s some Liberty in that but it comes with well she is of that that genuine generate that camp you know if it if it bleeds it leads and she you know she is she sensationalizes it it’s like that she sees that correlation between you know sensation and news and entertainment and Diana I fear always sort of lost in that she’s kind of she’s lost her moral compass which is why her relationship with Maxis it’s so doomed because she can’t really she can’t feel you know her her feeling and her passion is within that you know she’s within the ratings and you know that’s why she feels like she acknowledges that as well yeah yeah yeah absolutely which is you know for me a you know when you’re playing a character that you don’t agree with you know or relate to on any level it’s um it was a challenge to find the human the human part of her Ashley and I was adamant to find that and so receiver actually because I didn’t want to make her justice just this cold you know Machiavellian woman I you know I thought there’s surely there’s something there and it’s sort of it comes out in that speech you know at the dinner when she says she tried to top herself you know she she did a lot of drugs in the 60s and she’s you know there’s this wild side to her but you know fiercely intelligent but just unable to you know have any contact and I love what you say about you know she’s she learned life from Bugs Bunny and I always think of like the kind of I don’t know this of the culture that we’re in at the moment there’s sort of telev you know the reality television and how people get their information and it’s so modern that like there’s something so pertinent about that and that sort of person do you know what I mean and and I it’s taken me some time to still find her find the heart of her actually because I didn’t like her and you have to find a way of to find a way into them yeah and not judging your character your character you know again another thing that seems and certainly the time of the film but you know the text overall is is the ahead of its time is there a gender role-reversal that you have in the relationship which is that I’m gonna put this into of Bernie he fancies her more you know at its basic level that he needs her more and you don’t often see that you often see the woman very wanting of the man yes interesting one to play yeah I mean I mean I think it’s too is I think is really tricky actually because in the scene that we’ve got where when you come into the office the only I always worried about you know the only line that I’ve got that I say and I’m Owen I thought you were I was hoping you were looking for an emotional involvement the craggy middle-aged man and I think with especially the way things are today I think the only person I mean like if you heard that somebody came if you’re done there to talk about business to talk about work and somebody and you know a man you know however many years your senior that was their reply to you pitching an idea to them you can I mean I was I kept on thinking what kind of man would come up with something like that it’s just I could I was very difficult to get myself away from a creepy old man and try to find that based on something else but as far as you know the rules kind of being reversed about I mean I I quite like that I’d no trouble with that I’d yeah Jesus I mean the more the merrier with that stuff to me it feels in that particular moment to me certainly didn’t feel it felt like he was very self-aware that he was almost becoming a cliche that’s he’s a middle-aged man oh yeah I think I mean also there’s another thing with the idea of the roles being reversed I mean you have somebody who is cheating on their wife and then coming to his the person he’s having an affair with and talking about how painful it is for him you know there is a little bit loud you know you and your perm and pain you know there’s there is a we bear that so I mean I don’t think it’s completely the best in

that way but I think that they’re they’re very human I think you know when you say I say that you know it’s a Greek tragedy it’s a little bit because I think we both know we’re probably screwed you know but I can’t help it because I think he’s teetering about all over the place because everything’s it’s like Jenga with him all the bits have just being taken away from his life it’s all just about to come tumbling down and I think you know you know Diane is the catalyst for me he knows it from the start that if something is going to set it yeah yeah don’t you think it’s the language isn’t it it’s really complex in places like it’s real it’s not black and white like it’s surprising and and sometimes there’s an actor you kind of you want to really find what’s right like what is the right way of saying this or the right way of responding and actually for us what I’m I’m loving is now that we’re right into the run of it you know we’re halfway through now we’re still finding different ways of shifting there’s moments that shift in the scene especially those two scenes oh yeah absolutely I mean I’m enjoying doing that a lot more know than I ever have before to still find sort of this long into a run now to find new moments in scenes like that oh hopefully oh yeah I mean I I mean I haven’t done play in six years so I mean from what I remember you’re still exploring but there’s something about this play and the writing that it can be it’s like when I say not anymore you know he says something going on between you and Hackett and she says like even in not anymore or there are so many different ways that I can express that like the other night I thought maybe she’s really gutted actually that she didn’t get both she didn’t you know she didn’t get what she wanted and he and still have her thing with max you know and but then sometimes I love playing that anymore you know cheeky it’s it’s and it’s it doesn’t with some plays I think if you play too much it really it jolts it and shifts the the scene but with this it’s like we’re always kind of finding new stuff aren’t we like I love our last scene yeah and how that is like I’m always changing her reaction to his breakdown in that moment the one where he’s yeah next yeah yeah it’s great and we were a very playful company actually mmm we’re all sort of we all kind of have a little play it’s great you know no one’s sort of rigid about what they’re doing I think this is also I mean this is I mean when you serve the begin it was like a seven week tag this has been like rehearsed to within an inch of its life yeah and so it’s a really really well oiled machine and the good thing about that is is that there’s room then to experiment because I mean I always think of me so we we but like a band going in a studio to record an album you know you play every instrument whatever to get them all perfect and by the time you take out in the road to play live it leaves room because you all know everything so well leaves room for somebody to go off and riff off a weber and if it kind of comes to its natural end you always got that baseline to come back to yeah lot like that in this play is because it’s it’s so kind of and also because you can’t mess about with this too much because so many of the cues are so vital so much of everything is like set up you know there’s no room for that you know I mean the timings are the shore incredibly similar every night you know I mean the shore link was out by maybe four minutes you know a couple of minutes down or a few minutes up I mean it’s it’s pretty much on the money every night whereas you know other places that I’ve done I’m sure you’re the same you know they can go out by about 11 10 11 12 minutes yeah but this is really slick before we will get to questions from you all very shortly but because obviously you’ve both got backgrounds in in other forms as well to key television I’m not going to ask you what you prefer because I know people always say don’t ask me that but do you do you work in very different ways for something like this versus it’s just so different it’s it’s such a different way of working your you know your hours are so different you’re you’re playing a scene and then it’s gone mmm you know you’re learning something and then it goes away you know with the play it stays with you for however many months you know I don’t really have a preference actually I love doing both what’s great about this of course is that there’s a bit of there is a bit of both which is unusual doing a play and and I am conscious of that when we do that scene outside that you are

acting for television at that point at that point you know and that’s that’s so unusual in in doing a play you know yeah I mean they are they’re entirely different I want to go back to my band metaphor again Roman television is very much like recording an album you know because you can do everything you can get everything until you get the thing right yeah where and you do it you know it doesn’t matter whether you’re doing the bass first of the drums first of the vocal last or whatever which is very much the same in film and television where you know you can be doing some scene from near the end and the first day and then you do the beginning you know halfway through and everything is a whack whereas you know on the stage you know you’re doing from the beginning to the end every night and you get to have a go at it and the best that you miss are you you’d you don’t quite find you have always got a chance to have another go at the next night and the fact that you know there’s you know eight hundred people out there every night and there is nothing like that in the world and you know I wouldn’t the world I messed that because there’s noises that you get in the theater that you just never and you never experienced anything like it and any other facet of your life you know when you’ve got an audience and you know you’ve got them there’s a silence that you get enough there or that you don’t get anywhere else ever and it’s it’s puts the hairs in the back of your neck up because you just think it’s there’s something really great about that and to the same extent when you’ve got a night where people you can hear people rustle in our coffin or whatever you just like it’s me it’s my fault because otherwise this should be listening and not thinking about that we tickle in the back of your throat whereas you don’t want them thinking about but you know that’s like nothing else so do you feel more masking Dougie Krishna yes you feel on stage or when you’re doing film work I was asked that and I I mean I feel like this is my house yeah and so you know I mean empty theatres like my house my life and I still haven’t got used to the idea of acting in there being this these you know so many you know a huge crew and yeah people in you know your you have that sort of audience but they’re not really there yeah yeah and I don’t think I’ve you know I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it you know whereas I feel the same on stage I felt this where I’m feel more comfortable but again it’s like you it’s where I started but again this plays particularly unusual because the audience are the audience and it’s so is the interactive element they’re they’re very much there and they’re part of the show yeah yeah I mean that aspect of it is amazing and it makes it so every night when Brian sits there it’s and I get to watch it from there it’s just sometimes I have to turn upstage because I I’m gonna burst out laughing you know because of the reactions or the ad-libbing that he does it’s just magic and you just you you can’t you can’t compare it I don’t know what anybody else felt but I know I was on the edge of my seat going oh god please don’t let it go wrong don’t let some one of you didn’t say something terrible or whatever I’m sure there always but just the nerves of someone you know having one of the actors go into the audience it’s yeah there was one lady one night she was really uncomfortable because she was just terrified Brian Crall was just to me I think you made her feel feel more comfortable by the end the lady last night was quite funny and he said are you enjoying the show yes yes quite interactive oh it was lovely yeah and on that note we’re bang on the nose of four so I must wrap up but listen thank you to all of you because brilliant questions and thank you to the show and to government all thank you