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Video: Daisy Edgar-Jones: "It's important for young actors to look after each other"

·4-min read
Photo credit: Oliver Holms
Photo credit: Oliver Holms

Daisy Edgar-Jones experienced overnight success during lockdown in 2020, after starring as Marianne in the much-loved adaptation of Sally Rooney's Normal People. The actress appeared on stage at the 2021 Bazaar Summit, in conversation with Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Lydia Slater, to discuss that experience and her upcoming role in Where The Crawdads Sing, plus give the audience an insight into the highs and lows of her career as an actress

"It must be very odd to become world famous in a lockdown," Slater pointed out, as she introduced her guest to the stage.

"It's a very hard thing to get your head around as a concept," agreed Edgar-Jones. "My whole experience of the show coming out was, like for all of us, from in my bedroom. I knew it was immediately different for me in that all of my friends were messaging going, 'Oh my God I've watched it, it's amazing'. So I thought, OK, that's nice. No one's done that before so it must mean it's quite good!"

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Normal People marked the actress' first lead role, opposite fellow newcomer Paul Mescal. It was officially the BBC's most-streamed show of 2020, racking up more than 62 million views, and making household names of its two stars.

"When I interviewed Phoebe Dynevor, she said that the first person who got in touch with her after Bridgerton aired - which obviously was another enormous lockdown hit - was you," said Slater. "And that you'd reached out and offered support. What advice did you give her?"

Photo credit: Oliver Holms
Photo credit: Oliver Holms

"I remember watching Bridgerton and thinking that her performance was so stunning," explained Edgar-Jones. "I started to see that she was getting very similar questions as I was about the intimate scenes, and the show had a lot in common with Normal People in that it was a love story and there was nudity, and both of us were relative newcomers." The pair ended up having a Zoom call during their respective quarantines to "process" their experiences together.

"It was nice to digest how we were feeling," she continued. "There was a lot about the shows coming out that was so wonderful and amazing, but it was also quite overwhelming to suddenly be aware of the things you say being sometimes misrepresented or written about. And [filming] intimate scenes and how that was for both of us."

She continued: "I just think it's really important as actors to find a community. Because, I always think this, but on sets, every department is a department. You have an electric department and a camera department, and there's a boss who sort of looks after you all. But on sets, actors aren't a department. You don't necessarily have a group mentality; it can be very individual. If there is a group mentality then you can look after each other and learn about how to navigate certain situations on set. I think it's really important for young actors to look after each other."

Edgar-Jones and Mescal worked with an intimacy co-ordinator on set - as Dynevor also did with Bridgerton - to make sure that they felt as comfortable and as safe as possible.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

"I found it quite shocking that that is new," Edgar-Jones said. "I can't believe that that's not been a practice for a very long time. We have stunt co-ordinators to help us with scenes where we're simulating a fight scene and people could be in danger, and it's very much the same with intimate scenes. You are simulating something and you are very vulnerable in that moment, and so to not have someone there to look after both you and also all the directors and creatives in the room."

She added: "It was my first time doing intimate scenes, I'd never done anything like that, I'd never done nudity. It was all a first for me. But one thing I felt very safe in the hands of was working with Lenny [Abrahamson] our director... He's a very sensitive director and I knew that he would never ask for anything that wasn't really necessary for the story. And those scenes are so beautiful in the book, so I was excited to see how we could portray young love really truthfully, with all the different shades. But it was definitely daunting."

Photo credit: Enda Bowe
Photo credit: Enda Bowe

Watch highlights from Edgar-Jones' appearance at the Bazaar Summit in full, above.

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