‘Sets are safer, thanks to #MeToo’: British-American actor Lucy Boynton

British-American actor Lucy Boynton speaks to Katie Ellis about her new film, The Greatest Hits!, the joy of starring in a double love story and the tunes closest to her heart.
A still from The Greatest Hits!
A still from The Greatest Hits!

What made you want to be a part of this movie?

First of all, I just loved the script. It’s such a beautiful character. And then, it was the people I got to work with. The cast and crew were incredible. The whole experience of filming was amazing, so much so that I was reluctant to let go of it.

What can you tell us about your character?

I play Harriet, who we first meet at an interesting point in her life. It is the two-year anniversary of her boyfriend Max’s death, and everyone around her has assumed she is okay, and much further along in her healing journey than she actually is. But, because of this ability to go back in time by listening to songs that she and Max once listened to together, she hasn’t really moved on. Initially, it’s a gift for her; to have this bonus time we all would want to have with someone we have loved and lost, but it is now stopping her from moving on. Then, David (played by Justin H Min) enters her life and gives her a reason to not live in the past. It’s basically two beautiful love stories set against a killer soundtrack.

David Corenswet plays Max.Did the fact that you had worked together before on The Politician make it easier to find that chemistry together?

It did. It felt like we were picking up from where we left off. I know how he works and he knows how I work, so it was cohesive. Both of us felt safe with each other, but it was also just really fun. We got to skip the chapter of learning about each other, and so we dived right in.

What were your highlights from being on set?

The moments where we all get to be together, which were rare because of the different time-frames in the movie. But, off set we got to hang out at Ned’s (director Ned Benson) house.

This film is all about how songs play a special role in our memories. What is a song that takes you back to a special time?

All of The Beatles songs. They transport me back to my childhood. But, at the moment a song that I love is Saying Goodbye by Ondara. I heard it last summer, and it’s been on a loop ever since.

Are there any songs from this film that have stayed with you?

Yeah, I was given a stack of vinyl records that we used, and were treasured by my character. That’s both really sentimental and practical.

What is one of your favourite filming experiences so far in your career?

Murder on the Orient Express. Working with Kenneth Branagh was special. He has a specific way of communicating with actors because of the fact he is a director, and an actor with a theatre background. It felt like being part of a troupe. There was a rich process of preparation, which you don’t usually get in film and television.

I was grateful to get that insight, and have tried to apply it to my jobs since then.

Who in the industry inspires you?

Oh, so many. Betty Gilpin wrote a book recently where she speaks specifically about the experience of being a (female) actor. I think all (female) actors should read it. She talks about sometimes finding this thing where in a scene it all stops being acting, and almost becomes real. You get to that point where you feel the feelings your character is supposed to feel, and you live it for a minute. Knowing that I have had those experiences is weirdly freeing.

Do you feel the film industry is a better place for women now, compared to years ago?

I think the sets are much safer now, thanks to the #MeToo movement and all the women who stood up. Hopefully, it will continue in every single industry, and not just my own.

You are also playing Ruth Ellis in a drama based on the real-life murderer, and the last woman to be hanged in Britain. What can you tell us about that?

That was just a world away from The Greatest Hits! It was so intense but a real privilege to be a part of. It was fascinating to learn more about her story and I’m excited to be bringing it to new audiences.

Finally, if you could describe The Greatest Hits! in three words, what would they be?

Musical. Sentimental. Nostalgic. 

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