The day after Island made its 1st miracle against Portugal at Euro 2016 we met at the Festival de la Télévision de Montecarlo the proud Icelander Heida Reed. She is one of the kindness person you can have the pleasure to talk with. Her smile is sweet and her voice is soft. Beautiful and enthusiastic; you can stay hours listening to her talking about her country and her experience on one of the most important British series.
We spoke with her about Poldark, especially about her character Elizabeth.
“She is born in the society where people expect she behave in a certain way. I think she doesn’t think about what she wants but about what she has to accomplish. It’s that that drivers her to make the decisions she makes. She think Ross (Aidan Turner), is dead; so she is giving up hope. He came back before her wedding so she could change her mind but she doesn’t for her sense of duty; so she has to live with that choice. And this says a lot about her. We can’t forget she breaks Aidan (Turner, ed) heart so she is the villain here for the audience. I don’t consider Elizabeth a real villain but…there are characters people want gotten by the hero and characters people don’t want see with the hero. Anyway as long as the audience is passionate about the characters and the story is great and I didn’t take the part of Elizabeth to make everyone to like me. My Elizabeth is different from the one in the books. In the previous series she has a much colder hysteria and now Elizabeth is developed more as I approached her than how she is in the books”.
Talking about books…was Heida a Poldark reader before being cast?
“I read the first two books on which is based the first season after being cast. I wasn’t familiar with Poldark until when I got the audition. So there was a lot of material to use to prepare the role; but none of us watched the previous version because no one wanted to be influenced by that performance. I watched a little documentary. Luckily even Robin Ellis, who was in the previous version and who is the sweetest man alive didn’t try to influence us. It was great to have him on set and I think he was so happy to be part of a second generation of Poldark. For the series I had to research about the period and the etiquette … I was so thrilled! The hardest part for me was the corset. I didn’t have to go on diet but it’s not a good idea to eat a lot at lunch when you are wearing it. The food doesn’t go anywhere, it just gets stuck…you are in it and it is so tight that there is no way to digest…so soups, smothers,…something liquid was what I got for lunch on set. In Poldark we have more a male sex objectification than in other series like Game of Thrones; but in my opinion male and female sex objectification in TV shows is not a good thing and we have to try to reduce it as much as we can. We knew women in the past were more objectify but I think we have to love the story for what is it and to realize that it’s something more than just posh nudity”.
And about Elizabeth and Demelza relationship?
“I think that for what you saw in the first season I think it’s one of that circumstances where they are both good women and they can see that being friends and being friendly is more important than be nasty to each other. There is respect but it becomes a little bit more complicated. But deep down I think they are good people so…I think they can see the good qualities in each other. Anyway I think there is a part of Elizabeth that she can’t help that is as she lost a piece of her heart even if she wishes to feel friendly with Demelza,…but she just can’t”.
Poldark is a huge success around the world. Did Heida expected this?
“No, I didn’t! It’s amazing! The response was overwhelming. Obviously everyone hoped in a part of it but it’s lovely when it really happens. And it’s still coming, have international fans it’s a lovely feeling so…I guess my life changed…I’m used to say no…but it kind of does…I, as Heida, didn’t change”.
The last thought was for her country…
“Yesterday draw against Portugal is a victory for us. A really huge victory. I was actually in a restaurant down the road and I forgot that the game was on and when I remembered it was like half match and it was so hard. They were already one down. They were fighting hard. So, at the end, it was a huge result for Iceland. I live in London, I have been there for 10 years now, and I trained there so it feels like home. London it’s really different from where I’m from because Iceland is a kind of Scandinavian culture…so far from the British one”.
Just after Heida, we had the real pleasure to meet the other wonderful and really sweet Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson. Stunning as usual in her long white dress.
In Poldark, Eleanor is Demelza. How she prepared herself for this character?
“When I knew they were auditioning I paid attention to the franchising and I started looking for the books. When I have been cast I started to read all of the books, all twelve. I’m really glade I did it because they give you a full idea of the story and the characters….also the script does it but in the books you can find so much more details obviously. With Debbie (Horsfield, ed) who wrote the show, we spoke a lot about my character, how to portray her on screen…Demelza is really strong. She doesn’t give up and she tries to be as strong as she can and so it’s why she grows so fast. It’s something that you read in the books but we had to figure it out…how to bring it on screen, we discussed it a lot and Debbie did a such wonderful job in the script. I originally auditioned for the role of Elizabeth but I’m glad to be Demelza. About Poldark in general, I like the fact that love is a huge part of the story obviously, but the greatest part is working the land and see what people went through in that period…this part really amazed me. This is also why I really enjoyed prepare myself for Demelza. She is not suppose to behave like the other women of the period. That was really interesting and as she could do what she wants I was nearly free to do the same with my character. Another very interesting thing is that I’m from the East-Yorkshire and on set I had to speak Cornish…so it became my daily-life accent, even when I wasn’t on set. Usually we spend six months on set and six doing readings so we don’t have a real break…Anyway I don’t think I could do another role speaking Cornish again…it’s so consuming”.
Eleanor laughs with her natural and wonderfuly kind smile.
What does she think about the usual comparison between Poldark and Downton Abbey?
“I think Poldark is nothing like Downton Abbey except that it’s made by British and it’s a period drama. Poldark, besides, is made following the books storyline while Downton Abbey is totally made up”.
Was she expecting all this international success, not only with Poldark but also for her previous work The White Queen?
“No, it’s so wonderful! I was thinking about this earlier. Yesterday I get out of the plane and there were the fans waiting for me at the airport…I mean, I’m from a really small town so I’m used to people knowing who I am. Then you come all this way and…it’s so lovely. It will be interesting to see how the second season will be received worldwide. I’m so honored to be part of this show and of all of this”.
Eleanor and Aidan will be soon also on the big screen in the amazing project Loving Vincent about Van Gogh’s life alongside Saoirse Ronan and Douglas Booth. Loving Vincent will be the world’s first painted animation feature, it took over 100 artists to hand paint it.