It's been a huge year for Welsh actress Alexandra Roach, having already appeared in both The Iron Lady and Anna Karenina, and now she returns to cinema, back to somewhat of a more low-budget and modest production, in Pat O'Connor's Private Peaceful.
Out in cinemas this coming Friday – October 12 – The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape was fortunate enough to spend some time with the rising star, to discuss her role in the affecting World War One drama, based on Michael Morpurgo's novel, as she takes on the role of Molly – the subject of brothers Tommo (George MacKay) and Charlie's (Jack O'Connell) affections.
Roach discusses her whirlwind year, as well her joy in working alongside more established, experience British actors, such as Richard Griffiths and her former college mentor Maxine Peake. She also tells us of her delight at working with O'Connor and her surprise at how different the film appears to what she had initially envisaged it to be...
It's been somewhat of a big year for you – what with The Iron Lady, Anna Karenina and now this – do you ever have to pinch yourself?
Yeah I've been really lucky. I went to RADA and they always tell you that you're going to be unemployed for most of your life, so I left with that feeling and it hasn't been like that, I've been so lucky. I've just had to put my head down and keep working and playing different characters, from Thatcher to Molly in this – just variations. I'm having a wicked time. I don't pinch myself, I'm just trying to enjoy it.
As for Private Peaceful, have you read the book at any point?
Yeah as soon as I got sent the script and it said it was based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo I went to my local children's book shop and bought it there. When I was buying it the lady behind the counter was like “Um, you do know that there is some adult content in this book.” And I was like, “I'm 24 thank you very much”, but yeah I did read it, and it's such a beautiful story and it educated me too. When you see the film and how young these boys are going off to war, I just really wanted to be a part of it, and Molly is such a sweet, innocent girl in the middle. She just loves these boys in different ways so much and yeah I really wanted to be a part of it, and I was so chuffed when I got the call.
So how much of yourself did you try and bring to the role?
What's great about playing a character from a book is that you have all of Michael's imagination and input and you take that as gospel and you have to leave that there and then use your imagination to fill it, and I guess Molly is closer to me than Margaret Thatcher is, I tried to just not overcomplicate her really, she is just a good, sweet girl, and sometimes that is quite hard to play – as it's so fun to play the evil role, or a zombie or something, but with her she is just so supportive of the boys and so loving and giving, it was just nice playing someone like that.
Did you find that you didn't have to do too much research because in the film Molly is quite unaware of what is going on...
Yeah, exactly. I didn't do any research about the war because I thought well Molly wouldn't know what was happening or what was going on over there, so it was best to be naïve to it. That's what shocked me when I watched it. We filmed all of my work consecutively and then I left the group and went off and the boys then went and filmed this war film, and I was like “yeah alright lads, cya later” so I just went home and when I watched it I just sobbed because they have just done it so well, I don't know how they managed to on this budget, like, just the trenches, and stuff. It really got to me.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Alexandra Roach Profile | Private Peaceful Film Page | Private Peaceful Review
PRIVATE PEACEFUL IS OUT NOW IN CINEMAS