A) I’ve just wrapped on a project called “Miss Scarlet and the Duke.” A new TV series by A and E that will air on PBS in the new year. It’s a detective show set in Victorian London that follows a young woman, Eliza Scarlet, trying to establish herself as a respected female detective. It’s wonderfully punchy and witty. I can’t wait for people to see it.
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.
Fans and critics unanimously agree that the Beauty and the Beast like love story between Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant) and Mr Agreus (David Gyasi) is one of the most compelling and intriguing storylines in Carnival Row‘s first season.
Mangala Dilip (meaww.com) talked to both actors and Andrew Gower (who plays Imogen’s brother Ezra) about their characters.
[Ezra] is probably one of the most ignorant characters I’ve ever played, maybe will play, but the beauty of ignorance is there’s always the revelation with those characters when something happens and when the truths hit home.
On the question what attracted them to their respective characters, Andrew answered:
I hadn’t read a script that has female characters so shaped and so formed and living and challenging the men in a Victorian period film is something that is really refreshing. […] That sort of works for me right now as an actor who is attracted to those projects consistently, and that is the work I’ve done in the past and this specifically is the one that I went, “Ah, we’re dealing with female characters that we haven’t dealt with before, and I get to be in scenes with them.
We can’t wait to see Andrew in yet another series set in Victorian times (the “real” one this time) with a strong female lead in Miss Scarlet and the Duke!
He further explained about his Carnival Row character Ezra and how he approached him:
I think a lot of people like to keep things out of how they are because they’re terrified of change. Why do you put a woman in a corset to stop her challenging you? Why do women and men sit in different rooms so they can’t gossip? I read this etiquette book to play Ezra and it was really helpful, because every time I was in a scene with my sister [Imogen], she was breaking every etiquette rule in that book, so basically, that’s obviously going to make me angry because she’s not abiding…
Andrew was very philosophical about [expectations being a tricky thing], saying “People are gonna like the show, and people are not gonna like the show. But that in itself is the show.” […]
Andrew had the perfect example […], in the way he approached a character like Ezra, who is very much not the hero of this tale. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t read anybody’s storyline other than my own because I was like: That’s what Ezra would do.”
In her review of the show Lissette Lanuza Sáenz also added:
[…] the storyline involving Imogen, Agreus and Ezra [is] the strongest of them all. In fact, Imogen’s journey throughout the series, though a little predictable, has enough gravitas to it that in the end, I didn’t just feel for her, I wanted her to win, and Ezra’s turn as, well, a Victorian man, through and through, is acted so convincingly that you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him.