The lovely Holliday Grainger spoke with us about the latest Daphne du Maurier adaptation My Cousin Rachel. She plays Louise, the girl next door who patiently waits to be loved by young Phillip (Sam Claflin), while dealing with Phillip’s mad crush on the mysterious Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Oh, and Grainger explains why she likes being in period films (like Jane EyreThe Borgias,

Q: What is it about a great Daphne du Maurier story that captures such a feeling?

Holliday Grainger: It resonates so much with that kind of gothic psychological thriller that’s very domestic in its world. It’s about the psychology and the emotions, which is … . And questions, there’s so much ambiguity in all her work. It’s like questions put out there and not always wrapped up. It’s kind of left for the reader to decide. I think it’s quite brave nowadays for that to be translated into film. Roger’s script really did capture the tone of Daphne De Mornay’s book. There are still all those delicious ambiguities that hopefully audiences will leave the movies in discussions with each other. It’s been really interesting today during class, because I thought I had my own idea.

Q: What is your take on the character Rachel?

Grainger: After doing press all day, some very interesting people have been coming into the room, going, “Well, I think this is about Rachel. I think this is about Rachel.” It’s just like people can come away from the same movie with completely different plots in their minds.

Q: I didn’t really see her as being a villain, maybe a little sociopathic, but trying to survive as a woman.

Grainger: Yeah. I think that’s still present in the novel. You read the novel and, as a woman, I read it even though it’s from Phillip’s perspective. He’s very clearly a very young, sheltered, naïve guy that has never known women. Therefore, when a woman enters his life, and she’s a real, fully combed woman with all the complexities that come with that. Nowadays, it’s so easy to brand that as a modern woman, but I think that she’s just a woman that is not trying to stick to all the social etiquette. Therefore, that’s how things get tangled with Phillip. He’s just never met a woman that has her own pathological world, really.

Q: Your character, too, isn’t cookie cutter either. Louise seems very strong as well, but just in a different way. What jumped out at you for your character, playing her as she was written by Daphne?

Grainger: I think that Roger’s script stays pretty true to the tone of the novel, and the characters, and the emotions. He stays pretty true to the tone and the web of emotional intricacies between the characters, I think are pertinent. But, Louise is very easy to create a stronger character around her, because it is all there. Roger hasn’t shied away from any of it. There’s a lot of times in the script and the film when Louise is watching. She doesn’t necessarily talk in every scene. I think that says a lot about … What’s unspoken with Louise says a lot about her character as well. She has that patience. She has that patience to watch.

Louise’s strength is to her patience, and the fact that she’s loves Phillip, but she first and foremost cares for Phillip as a friend, and as a family member that’s been in her life forever. That comes before her own burgeoning emotions towards him. Therefore, I think she has her enough self respect to try not to be jealous towards Rachel. But of course, that’s something that she’s struggling with, within herself, because it’s hard to keep ahold of your jealousy when the man that you love doesn’t really seem to care.
Q: You also fall under Rachel’s charms…

Grainger: Yeah, absolutely. That’s where her jealousy comes from because she didn’t expect this woman to be so charming, and effervescent, and she is. Obviously with that is going to come jealousy and self doubt from Louise’s point of view. Is she ever going to live up to the charm of this woman. But, also, you can’t help but be taken in by that. Because Rachel has such an open quality. In the scenes with the women, she has this pro-girls feeling. Louise is being asked to be on team with Rachel, by Rachel. Louise and Rachel could be mates.

Q: And does Louise finally win?

Grainger: That’s the question. If you look at it, sometimes, Rachel is Phillip’s first love. You learn so much through those first relationships, with Rachel, so by the time Phillip comes to Louise, he comes emotionally bruised and potentially with a package of guilt, and all of that that comes along. You’re not quite sure where that’s going to go. How much guilt he might feel later in life. That leaves you feeling very on edge.

Q: You just play these period pieces beautifully. Is there something about a period piece that just really speaks to you?

Grainger: No, I don’t think so… although, maybe. I’ve always been intrigued by different periods, and maybe it does. There’s been times in my career where I’ve been desperate to get out of a corset, and worried I might be being typecast. But then, I’ll read another script and love it. I think it’s the kind of self restraint. That characters have in period pieces. The society of a century ago, or so, was far more self restrained. Therefore, there’s so much left unsaid, which makes a kind of psychological undercurrent far more rich. There’s all the gaps between the words filled a lot more in period pieces. I think that’s what always draw me to them, in a way.

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