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Feature: Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Interview Magazine

06 August 2020
Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments

Since her breakthrough role in 2013’s Belle, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has made a career out of playing forward-thinking and boundary-breaking characters. As a mixed-race woman unwilling to conform to the aristocracy in 18th-century England, the British actress brought tenderness and toughness to the role, qualities she has carried through to other performances, such as the troubled pop star she played in 2014’s Beyond the Lights and the outgoing party girl Kelly in Black Mirror’s beloved episode “San Junipero.” In her latest role, as Vera in Jessica Swale’s Summerland, Mbatha-Raw takes on yet another period drama, exploring the limits of love and relationships during World War II. As she tells her friend and “San Junipero” co-star Mackenzie Davis, portraying well-rounded, multifaceted romantic characters—most of whom occupy spaces they weren’t created for them—is inherently radical, but also necessary. Below, the two actors discuss the lasting impact of their cinematic love story, traveling back in time to bring women forward, and the annoying task of explaining why they’re drawn to strong, political, rebellious parts.

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MACKENZIE DAVIS: Hi, how are you doing?

GUGU MBATHA-RAW: Oh my god! I’m good, how are you?

DAVIS: I’m good. Are you still in L.A.?

MBATHA-RAW: I’m still in L..A. Where are you?

DAVID: I’m in Canada.

MBATHA-RAW: I mean it’s such a strange time, isn’t it? I may see if I can pop home at some point, too. I just think being home in a pandemic, being in your home culture, is soul-nourishing. We’ll see, watch this space.

DAVIS: I had such a nice day yesterday. I did a Gugu double feature. I watched Summerland and followed it with Belle.

MBATHA-RAW: You’ve basically been in England for a whole day. You just went historically down the rabbit hole.

DAVIS: It was a nice historical and geographical spread of the English countryside and London in WWII.

MBATHA-RAW: Thank you, friend, for committing to that much screen time with me.

DAVIS: I kind of struggle to watch my friends work sometimes. If I know them, I don’t rush out to see their work. It’s nice to have a reason, because I love you and I admire you and the choices you make. Do you have that at all with other actors?

MBATHA-RAW: I love seeing things in the cinema. I’m not so good at watching whole TV shows. I usually just watch the finale. Like, “It’s great—I’ve got the gist.” If my friends are on long-running things, I’m not great at keeping up. I trust that they are doing amazing work.

DAVIS: I feel the same way. First of all, I hate it when someone interviews me—I bristle at the psychoanalysis that goes into finding patterns in my work. I don’t know why I do things. But I think it’s interesting that you, and there are always exceptions to this, but in a lot of your work you play these very modern women who feel out of their time. You work a lot in period dramas and you often occupy this space of moving the conversation forward, either explicitly through demanding the conversation to be moved forward, or just existing in a space at a time when people would like you to apologize for being queer or female, or Black in an all-white, all-male space. I want to hear you talk about why you think modern Gugu time travels to bring women forward. [More at Source]


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