October 21, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Public Appearances

Last night, actress and former Tatler cover star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw MBE, made her way to Sloane Street for a glitzy discussion at Giorgio Armani’s London flagship. Merely one week since the store’s marble-adorned, enviably chic store played host to Armani/Casa’s Frieze party, the Italian luxury powerhouse’s gleaming Knightbridge haunt was the perfect setting for a conversation with author Yomi Adegoke.

Focusing the discussion on Mbatha’s experience in the film industry, a select few of London’s social set were called upon to attend the event, titled ‘Crossroads Conversations’. Celebrating the second season of similar events hosted by Giorgio Armani, Mbatha-Raw joins the likes of ballet dancer and director Aurélie Dupont, Michelin-Starred chef Vicky Lau, and activist Kristina Lunz on the impressive roster of invited speakers. Guests enjoyed champagne, Aperol Spritz and delectable canapés as they listened to her insightful and impressive anecdotes.

‘For me it always starts with the script. It is the first piece of contact I have for a role. After years and years of reading scripts and stories you get a feel for them,’ said the actress on choosing a role. ‘For me, my rule is to try and do things I have not done before. Not to repeat myself. After doing two psychological thrillers back-to-back, I then did a lighter, heist action movie with Kevin Hart and for me that was a refreshing choice because I think you cannot do the deep dark psychological stuff all of the time. You need to restore yourself with different genres.’

One of her favourite roles saw the movie maven play Egyptian Queen Cleopatra on stage in back in 2005. ‘[She] is my idol and I had always wanted to play her. She is such a powerful and iconic woman in history,’ Mbatha-Raw explained, ‘In terms of the wardrobe of Cleopatra, I certainly had to do my research. I think ancient Egypt is such an interesting period that hasn’t been explored recently on film and I feel like there is such a scope for a costume designer to build that world. There is so much texture to that world.’ [More at Source]

  September 24, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Public Appearances

I’ve updated the gallery with Gugu’s appearances in Paul & Joe and ERDEM shows in London Fashion Week.


  September 24, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Stills/Screencaptures, Television Projects

I’ve updated the gallery with HQ stills & screencaptures of Gugu in Apple TV’s Surface. The show was supposed to be a limited series but the way the finale ended implied that we might get a season 2.


  September 07, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Public Appearances

I’ve updated the gallery with photos of Gugu attending the Edward Enninful OBE & Friends Celebrate “A Visible Man” At Claridge’s.

  September 02, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Public Appearances

I’ve updated the gallery with photos of Gugu attending the first ever SOHO House Awards ceremony.

  August 23, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Photoshoot

When Gugu Mbatha-Raw first received the script for Surface, she was in Atlanta, filming the first season of Loki—about to become an enormous hit for the still-building Disney+ platform. It was the late summer of 2020, and she was content, if not exactly challenged, in the iron-pressed shirt collar and necktie of Ravonna Renslayer. She ached for an opportunity to stretch stiff muscles, especially as the pandemic continued the squeeze the television industry.

“I had a great experience on Loki,” she tells me when we meet for lunch in Midtown Manhattan this July. “But I think the Marvel world is a particular genre. So it was very refreshing to me to read Surface at the time, because it was so different to what I was working on.”

She already had a connection to the production company behind Surface: Hello Sunshine, co-founded by Mbatha-Raw’s The Morning Show cast-mate Reese Witherspoon. From Atlanta, she Zoomed with Surface showrunner Veronica West, with Witherspoon herself, and with Hello Sunshine President of Film & TV Lauren Neustadter. Together, they took the pitch to Apple, “and they pretty much bought it right away,” Mbatha-Raw says.

By Thanksgiving of 2020, a writers’ room was at work, and by June 2021, Mbatha-Raw was on set in Vancouver, in the lead role of Sophie, an amnesiac struggling to make sense of her life and relationships after a presumed suicide attempt leaves her without memories. As an executive producer as well as actress for Surface, she’d had a heavy hand in everything from Sophie’s musical tastes to who would play her co-stars, including Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Sophie’s husband, James, and Ari Graynor as her friend Caroline. As such, Mbatha-Raw’s tastes are felt throughout the series; her, as she puts it, “British sensibility” adds gloss and dimension to what might otherwise feel—if you’ll forgive me—a mere surface-level investigation of monied myth-making.

As the series speeds toward its finale, critics have widely deemed Mbatha-Raw as the standout in an otherwise mixed reception. Her face—Sophie’s face—contorts as she learns new details about her past lives, but even more so as she learns how to harness those details. Surface’s protagonist is not innocent, neither before nor after her accident, and the thrill of connecting those two threads is most evident in Mbatha-Raw’s performance, as she spins the wheels of reinvention behind Sophie’s tony exterior.

In a wide-ranging conversation ahead of the Surface premiere, I learned how Mbatha-Raw poured both her practical and artistic skills into Surface, what she hopes for the future of the series, and how her time on Loki has informed her future creative endeavors. [More at Source]

  August 14, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Photoshoot

The narrative conceit of a character that awakens from a supposed suicide attempt with no memory or sense of their former identity is a fairly delectable proposition for any actor and one that is evidently particularly well suited to Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The actor’s propensity for subtly nerve-shredded existential angst is amply showcased in Surface—the current Apple TV+ show predicated upon precisely the aforementioned proposition. 

The increasingly celebrated thespian in Mbatha-Raw is properly in her element in the slow-burning psychological thriller. Surface spins upon the central axis of a woman named Sophie (played by Mbatha-Raw) whose seemingly high-end affluent life in San Francisco turns out to be a scattered jigsaw puzzle of deceit, debt, love triangles, and, perhaps even, murder most foul. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the Oxfordshire-born actor, who first came to the attention of the world for her sterling performance in the game-changing costume drama Belle, and was most recently on our screens as a sinister time-policing bureaucrat in the surreal Disney+ Marvel spin-off, Loki, jumped at the chance to play such an enticing role. “Surface came to me through the Hello Sunshine company, who I worked with on The Morning Show, and I knew if they were doing it, that it would be quality because an ethos of centering strong female roles in the narrative is in their DNA,” says Mbatha-Raw, with infectious enthusiasm down a crackling phone line from Belfast, Ireland, where she is currently holed-up on-set of new project, Lift. 

“When I read Veronica West’s pilot script [for Surface], it just really drew me in as a mystery. I thought it was so compelling because it placed you right inside my character’s head—a woman who it seems has a perfect life, before the cracks begin to show,” continues the actor of British and South African parentage, whose eye for a good character is inarguably keen, given she has been awarded an MBE for services to drama. “There is this kind of noir element to the story, and I got drawn into the mystery of this love triangle, but also by the fact that I hadn’t really ever seen a woman in a memory story, you know? We have all seen things like The Bourne Identity, and thrillers that have a man at the center of finding out who they are, or what they have done—but I just thought that this being about a woman was intriguing.”

It’s a salient point that memory loss is a pretty well-trodden trope in the history of cinema, having deep roots in the likes of the classic Hitchcock thriller Spellbound and the truly excellent Memento from Christopher Nolan, but it’s fair to say that it is sadly more than a little unusual for the key protagonist to be female (the incomparable Mulholland Drive being the most obvious exception), and, perhaps just as pertinently, it is not a narrative we have seen packaged into the zeitgeist mold of the mini-series before. “There is something about being able to go into an intimate character-driven story like this that you can’t necessarily get on the big screen, because you get to spend eight hours with all these characters and go to deep psychological depths,” says Mbatha-Raw, when I ask her if she has any concerns about the ubiquitous streaming format in general, given that, well, at least in the opinion of this writer, a good deal of shows can sometimes seem just a little too long, and oftentimes unwieldy. “I think there is a comfort in returning episode after episode to a character, and in getting to really explore the nuances of the story,” she continues. “Also, this is just six episodes, so it feels like a tight package. Hopefully, as a viewer, you are on the edge of your seat, and trying to work out the mystery, but there are also some very interesting questions of trust being raised on the way—you can’t always rely on your senses to give you an accurate picture of the outside world, and thereby your inner world.” [More at Source]

  August 14, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Interview, Video

  August 09, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Photoshoot


‘I wish I could take the credit for the emotion-provoking performances, but to be honest, that’s what draws me to them in the writing and the storytelling. If a project or a script can enthrall me in any way – if it makes me laugh, gives me goosebumps or moves me to tears – then I’m gripped, and I know that it’s going to be worth doing it,’ humbly smiles Gugu Mbatha-Raw, when we meet again, this time virtually on a Zoom call. It’s the beginning of June with hot weather unabashedly filling the streets of North London, with the wi-fi connection having a literal meltdown and cutting off, which from time to time interrupts our light-hearted conversation.

She joins the line from a hotel room in Belfast, having returned from Italy, where she was shooting the anticipated Netflix heist action movie Lift, sharing the screen with comedian Kevin Hart. ‘We just got three weeks left to finish the movie. I’m not going to lie that it’s a bit of back to planet earth here, in Belfast. It was wonderful to be in Italy with the weather, food, and culture and bring that with us to the final three weeks in our imaginations,’ wholeheartedly says the actress.

Gugu’s breakthrough came with the British period drama Belle back in 2013, for which she won the BIFA Award for Best Actress. As a versatile performer, carrying so much gravitas in all her projects, no surprise that numerous roles have followed throughout her successful career on both TV (Black Mirror, The Morning Show, Loki, The Girl Before) and the silver screens (Beyond the Lights, Miss Sloane, Beauty and the Beast, Irreplaceable You, Motherless Brooklyn, Misbehavior, Summerland). Now she’s leading the charge on the highly anticipated eight-episode Apple TV+ thriller Surface, which marks her second time working with the streamer, and Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine. Set in San Francisco, Surface follows Gugu’s character Sophie, a woman who has suffered a traumatic head injury which resulted in a memory loss, believed to be a result of a suicide attempt.

Contrary to her character, Gugu is as open-hearted and joyous as the first time I met her back in May. A travel-worthy Watford Heath, where the cover shoot took place, was also graced by a visit from the likes of Erdem, CHANEL, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton and Roksanda in a wardrobe of dreams. Cups of tea were flowing on set, and classics such as I Wanna Dance with Somebody were blasting through the speakers, with our cover story star embracing different alter egos in front of the camera as the force of nature that she is.

Its not usually the way I start any conversation, but its great to meet a person whose powerful performances made me cry more than once.

Ooh!

Im saying this as a compliment. Irreplaceable You – I was sobbing, Black Mirror’s San Junipero – youre right, weeping again. And The Morning Show – where do I even start here? I think you have a superpower if you can make a lasting impact on the audiences emotions, whether thatd be tears, laughter or even a tingling sense of anxiety.

Those projects that youve mentioned thats just not me. I chose them because they’ve moved me. I remember reading Irreplaceable You and crying on my iPad. I thought I was going to break it. I literally had to stop as I was tearing up. The same happened with San Junipero, and I remember that I got chills when I was first pitched The Morning Show. I wish I could take the credit for the emotion-provoking performances, but to be honest, thats what draws me to them in the writing and the storytelling. If a project or a script can enthrall me in any way – if it makes me laugh, gives me goosebumps or moves me to tears – then Im gripped, and I know that its going to be worth doing it.

Do you often become easily attached to characters and the script whilst reading it, or does the sense of attachment come in time?

I mean if it’s good… (laughing) If it’s good, the feeling is pretty instant. Theres something there. And its usually pretty obvious. Its like the soul of the piece. And if the soul isnt there, you can do rewrites and use costumes, accents, and fancy camera angles, but its not going to give it its essential heartbeat. Ninety percent of the things aren’t that good. The reality is that the good stuff stands out. [More at Source]

  August 09, 2022
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

On paper, the plot of Surface carries a level of drama that reaches soap opera standards: an attempted suicide that might have actually been attempted murder, a steamy affair, shifting allegiances, and a memory loss-induced identity crisis. But reviews of the series have been largely choral, agreeing that its pacing feels slow, not indulging in the hyper-saturation in plot typical of such series. Its star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, cites its intrigue as more mysterious than splashy. “There is an introspection and a nuance to the world, because it’s complex and detailed,” she explains. “That doesn’t mean it’s gentle.” While labeled a psychological thriller, the show’s depth derives more from its exploration of identity and its potential to change than from a dense dexterity in plot.

Mbatha-Raw’s character, Sophie, is introduced after a traumatic head injury. She doesn’t remember the incident, or really anything else. The Apple TV+ series tracks the unfolding of Sophie’s past as she tries to make sense of conflicting stories from the people closest to her. For Surface’s protagonist, who has little context or understanding of the person she was, self-discovery carries entirely new meaning. In elevated and modernized form, the show addresses a long-contemplated question: Are our personalities innate, or do we have control over who we are and who we are capable of becoming?

Following the show’s premiere, Mbatha-Raw joins Document to discuss the nuances of her character, the evolution of mystery, and a mass grappling with identity.

Megan Hullander: How do you build a character who doesn’t even know herself?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I mean, that’s the challenge. Obviously, we get to know a lot more about Sophie’s past and who she actually is [throughout the series]. But in terms of actually playing her, it was a nice opportunity to embrace the more sensory elements, like the idea of muscle memory. Even if you don’t know a lot of the details of your life, taste and smell and sight take you back to a more childlike energy. Those things are that much more visceral. So that was kind of something that I used to make it feel very sensory. Being able to rebuild from a blank slate is always fun, because it really gives you a strong arc.

Megan: Looking at the whole of your career, there’s a lot of versatility in the characters that you’ve taken on. What parts of yourself, if any, did you allow to come through with this character?

Gugu: I’ve got a variety of projects now that I’ve done—certainly in terms of the genres and styles—but you might see some common threads. That’s the fun of acting, really—it’s not really about you. It’s about getting out of the way. But I think, without meaning to, you bring a great deal of yourself to every role, good and bad. [More at Source]