Declan O’Dwyer, director of the upcoming Miss Scarlet and The Duke, graciously agreed to do this short Q&A exclusively for Andrew-Gower.co.uk. Read what he had to say about the series, working with Andrew Gower and his favourite pizza topping!
The Irish born director, writer and producer previously worked on a number of BBC productions (Robin Hood, Merlin) and directed the original pilot of Being Human. He was a writer and director for the History Channel documentary Barbarians Rising and was nominated for an EMMY award in 2019 for his work on Free Rein. In 2014 Declan O’Dwyer was the first international signing from The Black List. In summer 2019 he directed all 6 episodes of period crime drama Miss Scarlet and The Duke, created by Rachael New and starring Kate Phillips, Stuart Martin and Andrew Gower.
What can fans expect from Miss Scarlet and the Duke? How would you describe the overall tone of the series?
Miss Scarlet and the Duke is the story of the first female detective in Victorian London. Conjured from the mind of Rachael New. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously – but it does expose the prejudices society put on women in the Victorian era and draws many parallels to society today. But, all that said – it is a fun show – with the relationship between Miss Scarlet, and the Duke at its core.
In a comment I read someone saying Miss Scarlet sounds like “Remington Steele in Victorian times”. Would you say this is an appropriate comparison?
Ha! I’d not heard that one. If comparisons have to be drawn (they always will) I would say it’s more like a Victorian Moonlighting. But hey, I loved Remington Steele – and it’s another good reference.
Can you tell us a little about Rupert Parker, the character Andrew Gower is playing? Who is he? And I must add that the moustache is fabulous!
At the moment, I can tell you very little about Rupert Parker I’m afraid. I will say only this, he is a man ‘out of time’ with Victorian London.
Inevitable question: how was working with Andrew Gower?
What’s it like to work with Mr Gower? Well, first and foremost he’s a beautiful human being – so it was always a joy having him on set. He’s a proper laugh to have around – always brought amazing energy. He’s a grafter as well, the consummate, consummate professional. I’d jump through fire to work with him again, any day of the week, twice on Sunday.
Do you have a story about filming that you can share? Something that was especially challenging, something funny that happened, or a favourite set?
Too many to mention. And probably many I can’t, or shouldn’t – in a good way. The schedule was extremely challenging. We shot all six episodes in 51 days. We often had to shoot up to 7 pages a day. That’s very tough on a crew (especially shooting a period piece) but it is especially tough on the actors (imagine memorising 7 pages of dialogue – day in day out). Kate Phillips lead from the front. She was amazing. Always on it. Never complained. (and she’s brilliant in it).
I have to say, despite the schedule pressures (we shot the show in Dublin, doubling for Victorian London) the crew were magnificent and the set was an absolute giggle.
On Miss Scarlet you basically worked with two leading ladies: show creator Rachael New and Kate Phillips, who plays Miss Scarlet.
Haha. Yes! They are one in the same. Miss Scarlet is the very thinly veiled alter ego of Rachael New. It wouldn’t surprise me if Rachael is wearing Miss Scarlet’s costume right now as she writes series two.
Rachael is the creator/Showrunner (she’s in charge basically) and has built this fantastic world for us to play in. Kate brings Eliza Scarlet to life (as Stuart does with The Duke). And they are a really great fun to watch. Their chemistry and relationship is magic. They got on like a house on fire also, so that helps.
But yes – two leading ladies. I consider that an honour.
How do you feel about women taking over and being more and more in control in film business?
I’ve never known it any different to be honest, Isabel. Throughout my career I’ve always worked alongside and for amazing female writers, producers and executives. The change I can see, and it’s a very positive one, is more stories come from the female gaze. And that can only be a good thing.
You’re a director, a writer and a producer. Do you have a preference?
Directing. Hands down. I hate writing. I only ever started writing – because I wasn’t getting offered the kind of scripts I wanted to make. Rather than moan about it – I wrote stuff. I was very fortunate, people liked it. It opened doors in Hollyweird. (Not a typo).
Have you always wanted to be a director?
No, I aways wanted to be a movie star. Not an actor – a movie star. But I can’t act for toffee. Best for everyone that I stay behind the camera – and aim it at people like Andrew Gower.
Is it true that you always wear a tuxedo on the first day of filming?
Yes – the tuxedo thing on the first day is true. Be it in jungle or desert, rain or snow. It harks back to my very first directing gig. It was an in-joke with the crew, about being out at an awards ceremony the night before – and going straight to work.
Eleven years ago, you directed a pilot episode – starring Andrea Riseborough as Ghost Annie – which was later picked up as a TV show which later had Andrew Gower in his breakthrough role, who later starred with Andrea Riseborough in Black Mirror and now you worked with him on Miss Scarlet. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon or does the UK really only have 12 actors?
No, I think the UK only has 7 actors – and Benedict Cumberbatch is 6 of them.
Is there a question you always wanted to be asked in an interview but no-one ever thought to ask you?
What’s your favourite pizza? Mine’s a simple Margarita.
Thank you so very much, Mr O’Dwyer, for agreeing to answer our questions. We‘re really excited about Miss Scarlet and the Duke and can‘t wait to see it!
Thank you for asking me to do this. It was fun.
Miss Scarlet and The Duke is scheduled to be released on PBS in the USA in early 2020.
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