Every so often, a character is so well-rounded and full-bodied, when meeting the actor behind them, it’s hard to disconnect the performer from the role. That was certainly the case when we had the pleasure of speaking to Emily Beecham ahead of the release of the intimate character study Daphne, though it was a notion perpetuated when we actually began to chat.
“There are parts of Daphne that I see in friends of mine and I see in myself, she’s a very modern character that isn’t represented on screen that much at all,” Beecham began. “She’s messy and unapologetic and independently minded. It’s just so perfectly written. You rarely get to read a role like this.”
It quickly dawned on us that Beecham isn’t necessarily like Daphne. It’s that we’re all like Daphne, she’s a product of a very specific age group and city-culture that will resonate, and find an audience with many. The character is 31 years old, and this too represents a unique time in your life, that age where you’re old enough to know better, but still young enough to free yourself of too much responsibility. A tumultuous period, and particularly challenging to navigate in London, where it’s so extortionately priced, that we’re unable to keep up with expectations from generations above. Buy a house? As if.
“She’s the way she is because of where she lives and her circumstance,” Beecham said. “She doesn’t know what she wants. She’s in London, and you feel her struggle, and so many people her age are experiencing that, in that in-betweeny period, drifty jellyfish. This funny realisation where you still feel like a kid and you don’t want to do what everybody else is doing. She wants to drink and sleep with strangers.”
Daphne is a character that is easy to find yourself endeared to, and Beecham wasn’t too dissimilar herself. The actress, still finding her feet in the industry, would stumble over words, ask again what the question was that was being asked. Never in a rude way, just as though somewhat new to it all, complete with a sort of blissful demeanour that matches the role she embodies so well in this Peter Mackie Burns’ production.
“She became a real person to us, and even though the script and the narrative changed throughout, the character was always a constant, we always knew who Daphne was,” she continued. “I cared about her and it felt quite sad when we finished filming because she became such a real person. She’s just so current and it’s good for female characters like this to exist on screen, a lot of women will enjoy seeing themselves on screen.”
“Early on a couple of people were offended by her and asked why she was deserving of being on the screen, why she deserved to have her story told. But other people relate to her in a really strong way. The lead protagonist doesn’t have to be an angel. Kenneth Lonergen’s Margaret was an early reference point, she’s quite a similar character in that she’s likeable and unlikeable.”
Needless to say we were sold, and Beecham told us that Daphne may be a character we could potentially see again one day. We just need to persuade writer Nico Mensinga to start writing.
“We’ve talked about it, a lot of us, and what it would be like to make it into a Netflix series. To see where she was before, or after, because it definitely feels there’s so much to Daphne, and I personally feel quite attached to her so I’d love to explore her more.”
“We’ve just got to bully Nico. Never leave him alone. Make his life a living nightmare until he starts putting pen to paper [laughs].”
In the meantime the actress is rather busy anyway, shooting the third season of Into the Badlands, reprising the role of ‘The Widow’ – a role that requires much training, and some over-eating, too.
“I’m still filming, we’re doing our martial arts training and shooting it now,” she said. “It’s really intense, I’ve learnt a lot about looking after yourself and nutrition. Also being quite small I had to do a lot of upper body strength, and put on weight, eat double portions of food. It’s not the worst thing, it’s quite good fun – I’ve embraced that part.”
Daphne is released on September 29th, and you can read our review here.