"You know, I think it’s just as good as place as any to connect with any person, man or woman [the church day care in House of cards]. I didn’t know anything about it the first season, but when I met with our showrunner to discuss Season 2, he mentioned that might be a possibility. He put it in a lovely way. He said ‘It’s not meant to be like, in her history — it’s something that she has for this particular person. It’s this particular woman who sparks her interest’. I kept asking ‘Do you have a Lisa yet?’ and they kept telling me they had someone really amazing and I would meet her really soon. We got really lucky. I think that Kate and I understood each other as people so the chemistry was real.
I knew a little bit about the basics of how Rachel and Lisa meet but I didn’t know it was going to develop into something as deep as it did. Like when Lisa asks if she’s ever loved anybody—she says no. And I think that this is a first. And because she loves her, she’s going to do whatever she can to protect her.“
It was devastating [doing the throwing out Lisa scene, as demanded by character Doug]. I didn’t know that that was coming. I would venture to say that Rachel has never loved anyone and she has to break up with someone that she loves the most and not know that she’ll ever see her again. It was pretty intense. It was horrible to shoot, frankly.”
Did you watch your grandfather Charlie’s films when you were young?
Yes, we watched them a lot because they’re great for kids. Even though they’re in black and white with real people, not 3D crazy monsters. I saw Limelight recently and wept like a baby; it captures perfectly what it’s like to be in this business.
Is it help or a hindrance having such a famous surname?
I see it as a blessing. Having a few generations in the business has given me a healthy perspective on it: not to take it too seriously, not to believe the hype.
Did you ever consider changing it?
Yes, but then my mother rightly said that a beautiful actress wouldn’t disfigure herself just to prove that she was hired for her acting talents, not her looks. If you work hard, no one can really say anything. And if they do, it’s just white noise.
What drew you to the First World War drama The Crimson Field?
It’s in doing shows like this that you feel like you can change the world a little bit because hopefully people will be so horrified by what they see on the TV that they won’t want to engage in war any more. Also, it reminds us of the situation of women in the world. Women’s lib took a step forward in that period – yet there’s still not a single country in the entire world where women are paid as much as men; it’s important to remember that we’re not quite done here.
The doctors dub the nurses the “Very Adorable Darlings”. Would you have stood for that?
I’m terrible because I’ve got a big mouth so whenever I see something that’s a bit off I’m like, “Hey, what’s that?” Maybe you just have to laugh and call them a Very Adorable D***head back. What else can you do?
Do you see much condescension in your industry?
Completely – just think of the acting age of women versus men. But it’s important to keep a sense of humour about it.