Ystads Allehanda (2014)

Among Woolen Socks and Tapestries

January 5, 2014 / Written by Emilia Soelund

  This article was originally written in Swedish. It appeared in the local newspaper “Ystads Allehanda”, published in Ystad, Sweden.

On television you can see her walking in the halls of Westminster Abbey dressed in heavy silk and the crown jewels, but privately she prefers woolen socks. Simrishamn’s new Hollywood star Rebecca Ferguson tries to find the balance in a new life full of unexpected twists.

In January, A-list Hollywood stars will be walking the red carpet. Helena Bonham Carter will be there, as well as Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren and Elisabeth Moss. All are nominated in the category of Best Actress at the Golden Globes.

In Simrishamn, another nominated actress is preparing for the trip to Los Angeles.

– Right now everything is simply organization and planning. I’ve to got have a dress, so I’ll go to Stockholm. It will be like a work trip, she says.

Rebecca Ferguson is wearing a wool sweater and is sparingly rouged. She isn’t given much attention as she walks into the café Kagan in Simrishamn. Although she is nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious awards, her name is still relatively unknown at home.

Her career began early. As a 15-year-old Rebecca Ferguson had her breakthrough in the soap opera “New times” [Nya Tider]. She played Anna Gripenhielm, an upper class girl who falls in love with the working guy Hugo. Their love was not approved by the families.

– The role meant that I had to grow up quick and take responsibility. I became a taxpayer and would pay rent. At the same time I got a lot of attention. As a kid, I begged for it, but I was ashamed when I got it. But when facing the camera, I felt different.

After the “New times” era, Rebecca Ferguson left Stockholm and moved to Simrishamn. Here she lived a fairly anonymous existence for several years. She didn’t forget about her acting dreams, but worked with other things to make a living. She met a man and had a child.

– I never went to drama school. Perhaps I was afraid of not getting in. Instead I got a tudor and took private lessons. We worked together to break down my walls, she says.

And suddenly, just like in the fairy tales, everything changed.

At a garage sale in Simrishamn, Rebecca Ferguson met director Richard Hobert. The meeting resulted in a role in the film “One way to Antibes”. In the film she played against Sven-Bertil Taube, and the production meant that she got an agent and began meeting film people.

One day, she was sent to England for a casting for the TV series “The White Queen”. Thanks to her British mother, she could speak English without an accent, but she had never done an audition abroad.

As she came into the room, she noticed that it was not an ordinary casting. Both her co-star, the English actor Max Irons, and the producer were there too. The producers had not managed to find the right person for the lead role of Elizabeth, and the casting was in a hurry.

– The meeting was to see if the chemistry between us was right. The most talented actors can get the roles, but if the chemistry isn’t there, it’s just not. Me and Max clicked immediately. We started filming The White Queen the following Monday.

After the meeting, an excited Rebecca Ferguson e-mailed to friends and acquaintances to ask for everything they had on the 1400s and “The War of the Roses”. The series took place during a bloody era in medieval England and the time you usually get for preparations weren’t there.

– I knew practically nothing about Elizabeth when I started, but the character started to take form when I got in the heavy dresses. I also had great help from the author Philippa Gregory. I could ask her about everything.

– Be it for example allowed to cross your legs? Or what it meant when women let out your hair? The story is written by men for men. The information I sought was not in the books.

Just like in “New Times”, “The White Queen” tells the story of love across borders. Edward IV did something unthinkable when he chose a non-royal wife because of love. Normally, kings married foreign princesses and thereby established a bond with the other nation. The decision put England in danger, and the fact that his Elizabeth came from the wrong family didn’t help the matter either.

– There were consequences. They played a dangerous game, where one mistake could mean that you had your throat cut off. But Elizabeth was good the game. It was all about power and to build ties to protect yourself and your family. Sometimes I think that we are fighting for the same causes today. Elizabeth did everything she could to protect their sons, and I would do anything for my son.

Following the success of “The White Queen”, Rebecca Ferguson got multiple offers. She started filming Ridley Scott’s television series “The Vatican,” but had to stop when the series was cancelled after the pilot episode.

Hopefully “Hercules”, released in theaters this coming June, will perform better. Rebecca Ferguson plays Princess Ergenia and again got to play a strong, powerful role.

– First I played the queen, then a Princess and a Countess. As I usually say, it can only go downhill after this, she laughs.

Life as an actor is often unpredictable. Right now Rebecca Ferguson is preparing for the role of the Russian spy Katya in the film “Despite the Falling Snow”. Thereafter, “Hercules” will have its world premiere and press tour. What happens next? She doesn’t know.

– It’s important to select the right roles if you want to build a career with longevity. You can’t just take the first offer you get. I’m interesting now, as I’m a new commodity, but one can fall of the map pretty quickly if people get tired.

It’s a superficial but seductive industry, something that Rebecca Ferguson learned way back in her “New Times” days. Today, she thinks she’s better equipped to handle the pressure and attention an actress gets. In order not to lose yourself along the way, she tries to give her life structure. She has schedules and tries to have daily routines like yoga, meditation and hot water with lemon.

– I like the unexpected and love the feeling of adrenaline. But after two months of filming for “The White Queen” I broke down. It took me three days to get back up. I realized that it’s important to find a balance in life. I must have my family and my woolen socks with me. It makes me understand that the Second Life is just a bubble.

© 2014 Ystads Allehanda