— Anna Chancellor News (@AnnaChancellor_) August 6, 2016
— Anna Chancellor News (@AnnaChancellor_) August 6, 2016
More HQ photos are up in the gallery.
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— Anna Chancellor News (@AnnaChancellor_) July 29, 2016
— Anna Chancellor News (@AnnaChancellor_) July 29, 2016
"Anna Chancellor on why she's DEFINITELY a feminist and what she really thinks about Hugh Grant" via https://t.co/dpQIbOmAEU
— Anna Chancellor News (@AnnaChancellor_) July 24, 2016
Once again thanks Liz 🙂
A flurry of fairy lights, cotton wool and bags of bargains from nearby Paul Smith. It’s surprising there’s any room left in these three tiny dressing rooms for Zoë Wanamaker, Anna Chancellor and newcomer Lyndsey Marshal. The trio have invaded the New Ambassadors Theatre (onstage and backstage) with a production of David Mamet’s fast-paced comedy Boston Marriage. While Lyndsey popped off to get the coffees, Virgin.net holed up with Anna and Zoë for some backstage goss.
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?
Anna: Er, no. I always break them.
Zoë: I haven’t had any particular ones.
A: Is that bad?
Z: Wait. Mine is never to work with Anna Chancellor again!
Have we disturbed any pre-show ritual?
A: Oh yes, we do have a ritual. Zoë gets in first and is organising herself. Then Lyndsey arrives. Then I come in last and immediately go out with Lyndsey to get something to eat. Then we sit in the corridor chatting while Zoë is trying to get on with things. Then she leaves us while we’re still eating and does her warm up. Then at the very last minute, we go, ‘Must go and do a warm up!’ Zoë is ready ages before everyone else. I’m always last, it’s always the same. Isn’t it? Until we pushed it so far that my costume wasn’t really on when I went on stage one night and I got a fright.
On to the play. How would you describe Boston Marriage?
Z: It’s a play written by David Mamet who is known for his acerbic…
Z: …masculine writing. It’s a play with three women, which he has never done before. It has the same boldness…
Z: …thank you! Muscularity and strength but it is set in the early 1900s and it is two ladies of fashion who are in a relationship.
A: They are sort of high-brow bluestockings. At the turn of the century, many women would live together because your only choice was to marry. If you were going to get out of that, you would maybe pool your money and resources and share with another woman. That sharing could involve a love affair – or not.
Z: It is very funny because he uses archaic language and it is full of wit. There’s a gag a minute.
A: They’re also quotes, aren’t they? His brain! You feel like you’re living in it when you’re doing it! His brain is like a magnet to things that he’s heard. So he’s semi-quoting Gertrude Stein…
Z: The Bible…
A: Everything he’s read.
It’s very fast. Sometimes in the audience you find yourself laughing at two jokes past.
A: We don’t go as fast as he [Mamet] would have liked us to have gone, I don’t think, do you?
A: If he’d directed it, he would have had it go as fast as you could possibly have spoken.
Mamet came and helped during rehearsals, didn’t he?
Z: He didn’t help, but he came for our third preview when we were at the Donmar Warehouse. Then the next day he gave us a sort of masterclass. It was a very interesting discussion about how he felt the language should go.
A: He had his braces on, do you remember? He literally came with his boots and braces, rubbing his hands together like he was in a cake shop.
Z: I think he just enjoys the use of language and the silliness of the language.
Do you think he’s qualified to write about women?
Z: Yes, of course. Why shouldn’t he be qualified? I don’t understand that. He’s very qualified. He knows lots of women, he likes women and I think when people say he can’t write for women, it’s b*llocks. He’s written for women before. It’s not a new thing. He actually wrote this play for his wife.
Mamet’s wife played your role, Anna. Did that put pressure on you?
A: Well, it wasn’t really until I met him. Then of course, because you’re always so self-centred, I wondered if I had been so different to what he wanted. I think his production was very different to ours. Which was probably quite hard for him. I felt when he first saw it and we met him off stage, he looked quite shocked.
Z: We were far more eccentric than I think he thought we would be.
A: Do you think?
Z: Yes, far more, far more.
I heard you called him Daddy. How did that come about?
Z: It was a backstage joke. Because first we called him God.
A: Because during rehearsals we never saw him. Of course, because he was in America. But he used to send us faxes about this and that. So it was like there was this omnipotent sort of power over us. We used to think he was like Charlie from Charlie’s Angels. You know when Charlie used to send in all the information but you never saw him? So there were different things that we thought he was. Mammy we sometimes called him!
How was it working with an all-female cast and director?
A: You missed the blokes, didn’t you?
Z: I miss a bit of testosterone. But, I mean, I’ve worked in plays with all women before. It’s very good…
A: …if the dynamics work.
Has there been any cat-fighting?
Z: Only on stage!
A: No, we all get on well. That is lucky. Because three is not an easy dynamic. I think it’s a great dynamic but it is a potential for, you know… a lot!
You’ve both hopped from film to TV to the stage. Do you have a preference?
Z: They feed each other, I think. They really do. When you’re in a play you want to be doing a film and when you’re in a film you want to be in a play. Each discipline is completely different and requires an incredible amount of energy. It’s a different rhythm.
A: When you’re on stage, you’re on and there’s no stopping. It’s a bit like a horse in a race, once the gates are up, you’re off. That lack of choice I quite like. Like you’re being shot out of a gun.
Thanks to Liz for the inteview!
Richard and Judy (Channel 4), 2001-12-10
When Boston Marriage transferred from the Donmar Warehouse to the New Ambassadors (now known as the Ambassadors) theatre, presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan interviewed Zoe and her co-star Anna Chancellor about the production as part of their tea-time chat show.
Judy Finnigan: Zoë Wanamaker and Anna Chancellor are two of our biggest British stars, linchpins of two of the most successful films in history.
[Clip from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and one from Four Weddings and a Funeral.]
Anna Chancellor: Oh, hello!
JF: Great film. [To Anna] Now, you’re not to do what [you] did last time we interviewed you… [Anna had used an expletive during a previous interview with the presenters, without realising that this was not allowed before the watershed.]
Richard Madeley: Don’t tell us why the character [in Four Weddings and a Funeral] was called ‘Duckface’…
AC: No, we won’t go into that.
RM: Don’t tell us. Never tell us ever why she was called ‘Duckface’!
JF: We loved Harry Potter, I have to say.
Zoë Wanamaker: Good.
JF: I’m a great Harry Potter fan; I’ve read all the books and everything. You’re absolutely Mrs Hooch, you just really are. You looked fantastic.
ZW: Thank you.
RF: Speaking of Mrs Hooch, can we just kill this one
ZW: Madam Hooch, Madam Hooch, please.
JF and RM: Madam Hooch.
RM: Mrs Hooch! Speaking as Madam Hooch – this big debate [about] whether the broomsticks go brush first or brush backwards – what’s your take on this?
ZW: Brush backwards, of course.
RF: Well, absolutely.
JF: Who suggested the other?
[Richard talks to Judy, and they miss Zoë’s next comment.]
ZW: Otherwise, you’ll go backwards!
RM: All these white witches said the film was wrong, that actually the brush of the broom for a witch should be at the front.
ZW: [Laughs] Oh, I didn’t go into research that hard about which way it should go!
JF: This play you’re in together at the moment is a very interesting one – Boston Marriage. Basically, it’s set at the turn of the century, isn’t it?
ZW: [Agreeing] Hmm.
JF: Yep. And is it about a triangle or quadruple, or… Do you know what I mean? Because you two [Anna and Zoë’s respective characters, Claire and Anna] are lovers in it.
AC: We are, yes.
RF: You’re lesbian lovers. Right.
JF: You’re also married [in the play], aren’t you?
JF: Oh, sorry. I thought you were married.
RM: No, no. The play centres essentially [on] whether you’re going to stay together or whether… Who is it that fancies the younger woman?
AC: I’ve got a crush on someone else.
RM: Right, a younger woman.
AC: What’s happened in the story is that we’ve been separated for a while. We presume that we’ve been very hard on our luck and we both separate. We both think this probably happened to see how much money we could get in order to continue our relationship, because girls of course didn’t have many jobs, did they? It wasn’t that easy. So, Zoë goes off and finds a really rich protector and has loads of jewellery and loads of new clothes. And I come back, and she goes, ‘What have you got?’, and I go, ‘I’ve got a new girlfriend’!
JF: When you say a really rich protector, then, a male protector?
ZW: A male protector, yes.
JF: That’s where I got muddled up.
AC: He is married, you’re right.
RM: If it was the other way around, that would be known as a beard. Is there an equivalent word?
AC: The beard comes into the play – a beard.
ZW: Yes, a cover. It’s a cover, it’s a walker.
RM: In terms of the passion which we see on stage between the two of you… Most male actors would say that kissing another man in an homosexual scene, when they themselves are heterosexual in real life, is incredibly difficult; they really have to psyche themselves up for it. Women are much more touchy feely together, aren’t they?
RM: I just wondered, is a lesbian kiss on stage –
AC: It’s lovely.
RM: Good, you’re taking us there… Is a lesbian kiss on stage easier to do than an heterosexual kiss on stage, because you’re both girlies, and girls can do that kind of thing?
JF: They’re not girlies!
RM: You know what I mean!
ZW: [To Anna] You answer that.
AC: No, Zoë, you do it.
ZW: I don’t quite understand. I think it’s all the same thing, really.
RM: Is it more difficult, I’m saying, to kiss a man right, because of the sexual charge that applies, than it is to just kiss another woman actress?
AC: It depends what the guy’s like.
ZW: Yeah, it does!
AC: If you feel he hasn’t been getting much of it, and then you can feel those kisses can be a bit tense.
RM: Yes, I can see that.
JF: Are you joking? Are you serious?
RM: Were your kisses tense?
AC: No, ours are lovely.
ZW: They’re smashing; no tension in them at all.
RM: Thank you for clearing that up.
JF: You’ve just transferred from the Donmar to… Tell me the name of the theatre, again.
ZW: The Ambassadors.
JF: The Ambassadors. Right. Which means you get paid a lot more money, does it?
ZW: Lots, lots more money.
JF: Why is that? Because they can charge much higher prices for the seats?
JF: Yes. How is that all working at the moment? When we hear that theatre in London, especially after September 11, is, you know… There are so few Americans around.
ZW: [Theatres] have suffered.
JF: Has suffered. Have you noticed that?
ZW: Not in our play; we haven’t noticed that at all.
AC: Not yet, no. I don’t know about Christmas – who’s going to come to the theatre over Christmas – whether that is traditionally tourists or whether we’ll still pull in the English crowds who stay home in London.
RM: Well, fingers crossed. [To Zoe] Talking about the eleventh, you’ve been to Ground Zero, haven’t you?
ZW: I did [go there].
RM: Because – obviously – you were born in America.
RM: And you felt a sort of – what? A kind of [inaudible] pull – that you had to go?
ZW: Yes, I was curious to see what had happened to New York, to see how it had changed. And also a couple of my friends were very badly affected by it. And when I spoke to them on the phone, one of them in particular was crying a lot, and I really felt I should be there and see what has happened to lots of friends of mine and also the city itself – and it was very badly hit I think, emotionally.
RM: Everyone who’s been there and come back tells a different story, really, has a different mental photograph of what ground zero was like, what it did to them to see what’s there. What did it do to you?
ZW: Well, I saw it during the day, and it’s actually much more upsetting during the day, because you actually see the reality of it and the ugliness of it. Although, being America, they’ve cleaned up so much, they’ve cleaned up so much – and that was 2 weeks after it had happened. I also went because lots of people weren’t going – flying – people were frightened of flying.
JF: And was it important to you to make that point?
ZW: I think so. I didn’t want to be bullied. I was going to go a week earlier, but then I was a bit nervous – well, like everybody. Then I felt I wanted to be there; I wanted to see what people had been through. Although it is very difficult for us, being European, who have gone through thousands of years of terrorism in one way or another.
RM: And the Blitz.
ZW: And the Blitz. And been invaded all of our lives, all its civilization. Americans never had that danger of invasion, and so I think it was very scary for people.
JF: They’ve been very shocked, haven’t they?
ZW: Very shocked.
JF: It’s knocked their confidence enormously.
JF: You regard yourself as a European, then, do you – definitely?
ZW: Yes, I do, I do. Well, I’ve lived here since I was three. I wasn’t educated in America, so I still feel… although I feel American, I feel much more European.
RM: But how funny, though, that you felt the call, that you had to go there.
ZW: I did. It was friends of mine who had suffered that, really… What I… And I wanted to know why.
RM: Thank you both very much indeed for coming in; it’s lovely to talk to you both. [To Anna] It’s [with] some trepidation… It’s the first time we’ve met since that infamous interview. It’s all over the American blooper shows.
AC: It’s the highlight of my career, Richard!
RM: It’s one of the highlights of ours, to be honest with you! Did you know afterwards – and we’ve got to be careful, we don’t want to go there again… How soon afterwards did you realise that what you said has… sort of… you can’t do that?
AC: Well, when you started tearing your hair out, that’s when I realised I wasn’t to say that. I didn’t realise that, no, I didn’t know about any of that.
JF: No, you didn’t know about any of it, OK? [Laughs] You do now.
RM: Well, good luck with the play, anyway.
AC and ZW: Thank you very much.
AC: Nice to see you.
RM: Nice to see you.
A blast from the past… enjoy an interview from 2013:
Theatre > The Seagull (2015-2016) > In Rehearsal (2016)
Back in April, Anna performed during Shakespeare’s death 400th anniversary:
Appearances > 2016 > 23 April | Shakespeare’s death 400th anniversary
Thanks to Charlie we have got scans from Anna’s ‘The Times‘ interview:
Bigger photos are up in the gallery here.