BAZ BAMIGBOYE: I feel exhausted by trying to have it all, says Billie Piper 

Billie Piper, who has bemoaned the fact that she never gets asked to do big studio films, will star alongside Fleabag’s hot priest Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont in Game Of Thrones) in a new movie written and directed by Lena Dunham, the innovative creator behind television shows such as Girls and Industry.

The picture — Catherine, Called Birdy — is a perfect match for Piper and Dunham. Both have taken phenomenal steps to change the way women are seen on screen.

I Hate Suzie, the blistering dark comedy Piper collaborated on with Lucy Prebble — and also stars in — is a big hit on Sky.

The picture — Catherine, Called Birdy — is a perfect match for Piper (pictured) and Dunham. Both have taken phenomenal steps to change the way women are seen on screen

The picture — Catherine, Called Birdy — is a perfect match for Piper (pictured) and Dunham. Both have taken phenomenal steps to change the way women are seen on screen

The picture — Catherine, Called Birdy — is a perfect match for Piper (pictured) and Dunham. Both have taken phenomenal steps to change the way women are seen on screen

I Hate Suzie (pictured), the blistering dark comedy Piper collaborated on with Lucy Prebble — and also stars in — is a big hit on Sky

I Hate Suzie (pictured), the blistering dark comedy Piper collaborated on with Lucy Prebble — and also stars in — is a big hit on Sky

I Hate Suzie (pictured), the blistering dark comedy Piper collaborated on with Lucy Prebble — and also stars in — is a big hit on Sky

She said she felt burnt out after I Hate Suzie. ‘I felt exhausted by doing all the things that I was regularly dramatising — and actually, I’ve got to look at that,’ she said ruefully. The strain of ‘trying to have it all’

She said she felt burnt out after I Hate Suzie. ‘I felt exhausted by doing all the things that I was regularly dramatising — and actually, I’ve got to look at that,’ she said ruefully. The strain of ‘trying to have it all’

She said she felt burnt out after I Hate Suzie. ‘I felt exhausted by doing all the things that I was regularly dramatising — and actually, I’ve got to look at that,’ she said ruefully. The strain of ‘trying to have it all’

And coming in May (‘all things willing’) is Piper’s scorching directorial debut Rare Beasts, in which she plays a single mother struggling to maintain her sanity as she raises her child, deals with her crazy advertising job and embarks on a relationship with a man who actually loathes women.

I saw it late in 2019, when it was shown at film festivals. The lockdowns have delayed its release, but it needs to be seen. Piper described it to me as an ‘anti-romantic comedy’, and I have to say I love it for being bold and dangerous.

When we spoke over the phone earlier in the week, Piper gave no hint about working with Dunham, although she did say she’s a fan. It was only while doing post-interview due diligence that I discovered she would be in Catherine, Called Birdy, playing the mother of a fierce, warm-hearted teenager whose father (Scott) wants to marry her off to a wealthy suitor. Well, it is set in 1290.

The film is based on Karen Cushman’s children’s best-seller about the rebellious Catherine, who refuses to be wed to any of the oafs vying for her hand.

Her kind mother helps her thwart her father’s plans. Though it’s set in medieval times, the story has a modern mind-set — which should work well with Dunham’s sizzling ingenuity. Filming on the Working Title project will begin on locations in Shropshire in April.

And coming in May (‘all things willing’) is Piper’s scorching directorial debut Rare Beasts, in which she plays a single mother struggling to maintain her sanity as she raises her child, deals with her crazy advertising job and embarks on a relationship with a man who actually loathes women

And coming in May (‘all things willing’) is Piper’s scorching directorial debut Rare Beasts, in which she plays a single mother struggling to maintain her sanity as she raises her child, deals with her crazy advertising job and embarks on a relationship with a man who actually loathes women

And coming in May (‘all things willing’) is Piper’s scorching directorial debut Rare Beasts, in which she plays a single mother struggling to maintain her sanity as she raises her child, deals with her crazy advertising job and embarks on a relationship with a man who actually loathes women

I saw it late in 2019, when it was shown at film festivals. The lockdowns have delayed its release, but it needs to be seen. Piper described it to me as an ‘anti-romantic comedy’, and I have to say I love it for being bold and dangerous

I saw it late in 2019, when it was shown at film festivals. The lockdowns have delayed its release, but it needs to be seen. Piper described it to me as an ‘anti-romantic comedy’, and I have to say I love it for being bold and dangerous

I saw it late in 2019, when it was shown at film festivals. The lockdowns have delayed its release, but it needs to be seen. Piper described it to me as an ‘anti-romantic comedy’, and I have to say I love it for being bold and dangerous

Meanwhile, Piper’s keeping busy in lockdown: home-schooling two children from her marriage to Laurence Fox, as well as caring for her baby from her relationship with singer-songwriter Johnny Lloyd (who wrote the numbers for I Hate Suzie and Rare Beasts). ‘My head’s full of fractions,’ she told me. ‘You get to the end of the week, and your head is in your hands.’

I mentioned the Mail’s Computers for Kids Campaign, which she thought was great. Not everyone, she acknowledged, is as privileged as her family. ‘We’re fortunate. We’ve got the laptop and the actual online support. The expectations of families to produce all this tech, and have an understanding of the tech, is shocking.’ I watched Rare Beasts again recently and afterwards found myself reaching for our copy of Nora Ephron’s brilliant collection of essays called I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman.

I raised the subject with Piper, because it struck me that Ephron can be seen as a sort of cultural forebear of hers (and Dunham’s). They have, though, been able to push the envelope further than Ephron could back in 1989 in When Harry Met Sally — despite the famous Meg Ryan ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ orgasm scene. ‘She’s lucky she got that far,’ Piper agreed.

Dunham, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) — and Piper herself — have, little by little, started to reshape the cultural landscape, I said.

Piper’s keeping busy in lockdown: home-schooling two children from her marriage to Laurence Fox, as well as caring for her baby from her relationship with singer-songwriter Johnny Lloyd (who wrote the numbers for I Hate Suzie and Rare Beasts)

Piper’s keeping busy in lockdown: home-schooling two children from her marriage to Laurence Fox, as well as caring for her baby from her relationship with singer-songwriter Johnny Lloyd (who wrote the numbers for I Hate Suzie and Rare Beasts)

Piper’s keeping busy in lockdown: home-schooling two children from her marriage to Laurence Fox, as well as caring for her baby from her relationship with singer-songwriter Johnny Lloyd (who wrote the numbers for I Hate Suzie and Rare Beasts)

Billie Piper will star in new movie written and directed by Lena Dunham, the innovative creator behind television shows such as Girls and Industry

Billie Piper will star in new movie written and directed by Lena Dunham, the innovative creator behind television shows such as Girls and Industry

She will star alongside Fleabag’s hot priest Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey

She will star alongside Fleabag’s hot priest Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey

Billie Piper, who has bemoaned the fact that she never gets asked to do big studio films, will star alongside Fleabag’s hot priest Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont in Game Of Thrones, pictured right) in a new movie written and directed by Lena Dunham (left), the innovative creator behind television shows such as Girls and Industry

She accepted the compliment, maintaining that progress could come only once we are ‘able to watch women portrayed honestly in TV or on film’. Many men, in the past, had found it ‘almost too frightening or threatening’ to see women as anything other than mothers.

But things are changing. ‘It’s so satisfying, watching women be exposed — not in a negative way, but seeing every colour of a woman. Seeing how funny they are; how crass they can be, how thoughtful and hysterical, and angry.’

She said she felt burnt out after I Hate Suzie. ‘I felt exhausted by doing all the things that I was regularly dramatising — and actually, I’ve got to look at that,’ she said ruefully. The strain of ‘trying to have it all’.

‘I want to be successful, but I don’t want it to compromise my relationships with my kids. I want to be a liberated woman, but I also want to have an intimate relationship with a man — and I can’t do it all on my own.’ All of those things are explored in Rare Beasts. ‘I’m working it out for myself at the moment,’ she said. ‘It’s a work in progress.’

Taking Tetris to the Max(wells)

Taron Egerton has been filming the Cold War-era film Tetris, about the addictive console game created by Alexey Pajitnov.

Egerton (as I revealed last July) is portraying Henk Rogers, the Dutch-born, Hawaii-based entrepreneur who became embroiled in a high-stakes battle for control of the game with various entities, including software companies controlled by the late Robert Maxwell and his son Kevin. 

Stepping into the Maxwells’ shoes will be Roger Allam (left) and Anthony Boyle (right). 

Also in the movie, directed by Jon S. Baird and produced by Matthew Vaughn and Leonard Blavatnik, is Toby Jones, who around this time last year I was applauding for his performance in the title role of Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre.  

Stepping into the Maxwells’ shoes will be Roger Allam

Stepping into the Maxwells’ shoes will be Roger Allam

Anthony Boyle

Anthony Boyle

Stepping into the Maxwells’ shoes will be Roger Allam (left) and Anthony Boyle (right)

It’s latte time in the land of the zombies!

Colman Domingo was safe in his trailer, having survived the zombie apocalypse. In fact, he looked decidedly unruffled as he sipped from a mug of coffee.

He had been shooting scenes for his sixth season of Fear The Walking Dead, in which he plays millionaire Victor Strand. ‘You never know if he’s good or bad,’ he said gleefully of his character, from the set in Austin, Texas. ‘He’s really tricky!’

The 51-year-old has become one of the hardest working screen character actors in the business. Not only that; when time allows, he’ll occasionally get behind the camera, to direct episodes of the show. Plus he writes scripts. And musicals.

Take Cutler, for example, the band leader he plays (right) in the jazz-age gem Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, opposite a mesmerising Viola Davis as the blues singer who takes no nonsense and the late Chadwick Boseman (who died of cancer last year at 43) as a turbulent trumpeter

Take Cutler, for example, the band leader he plays (right) in the jazz-age gem Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, opposite a mesmerising Viola Davis as the blues singer who takes no nonsense and the late Chadwick Boseman (who died of cancer last year at 43) as a turbulent trumpeter

Take Cutler, for example, the band leader he plays (right) in the jazz-age gem Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, opposite a mesmerising Viola Davis as the blues singer who takes no nonsense and the late Chadwick Boseman (who died of cancer last year at 43) as a turbulent trumpeter

‘He’s the black Shakespeare of our times,’ Domingo said of August Wilson, the playwright who wrote the play upon which the Netflix film is based. ‘He’s our Eugene O’Neill’

‘He’s the black Shakespeare of our times,’ Domingo said of August Wilson, the playwright who wrote the play upon which the Netflix film is based. ‘He’s our Eugene O’Neill’

‘He’s the black Shakespeare of our times,’ Domingo said of August Wilson, the playwright who wrote the play upon which the Netflix film is based. ‘He’s our Eugene O’Neill’

‘It does make me formidable,’ he told me, over Zoom. ‘I can sneak in and do whatever I want.’

He always leaves a mark of excellence, though. Take Cutler, for example, the band leader he plays in the jazz-age gem Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, opposite a mesmerising Viola Davis as the blues singer who takes no nonsense and the late Chadwick Boseman (who died of cancer last year at 43) as a turbulent trumpeter.

‘He’s the black Shakespeare of our times,’ Domingo said of August Wilson, the playwright who wrote the play upon which the Netflix film is based. ‘He’s our Eugene O’Neill.’ It’s not Domingo’s first dance with Wilson. When he was 28, he played a 46-year-old character in Wilson’s play Fences. ‘Through and through, I’ve played all different ages,’ he told me. Later on he directed a stage production of Wilson’s Seven Guitars.

Watching him play the complex Cutler, who has to be deferential to Ma yet protect her from her outsize behaviour, while also keeping Boseman’s Levee from self-harm, is a revelation.

‘It’s a balancing act. He’s sort of like everyone’s big brother,’ he said. ‘Those blues and jazz musicians liked to live it up, but Cutler likes to do his work and go home.’

Watching him play the complex Cutler (right), who has to be deferential to Ma yet protect her from her outsize behaviour, while also keeping Boseman’s Levee from self-harm, is a revelation

Watching him play the complex Cutler (right), who has to be deferential to Ma yet protect her from her outsize behaviour, while also keeping Boseman’s Levee from self-harm, is a revelation

Watching him play the complex Cutler (right), who has to be deferential to Ma yet protect her from her outsize behaviour, while also keeping Boseman’s Levee from self-harm, is a revelation

Most of his scenes are with Boseman, whose last film this was. The part won him a posthumous Golden Globe nomination.

‘I never saw one ounce of fragility,’ Domingo told me, of their time on set. ‘If anything, I saw he was bringing everything in his soul. I saw him giving his all.’

They got ‘choked up’, though, during a confrontational scene about their characters’ religious beliefs. Domingo has to keep shouting ‘Tell me, tell me’ and then call his younger co-star a racial epithet.

‘I punched him and threw him against a door. The director called cut, and Chadwick and I immediately threw our arms around each other and cried. You want something from the soul to enter that room and it was there that day,’ said Domingo, visibly moved by the memory.

He’ll be everywhere this year, with more Fear The Walking Dead on TV, as well as three new films, including Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, also starring Michael B. Jordan and Jodie Turner-Smith.

Colman Domingo was safe in his trailer, having survived the zombie apocalypse. In fact, he looked decidedly unruffled as he sipped from a mug of coffee. He had been shooting scenes for his sixth season of Fear The Walking Dead, in which he plays millionaire Victor Strand (right)

Colman Domingo was safe in his trailer, having survived the zombie apocalypse. In fact, he looked decidedly unruffled as he sipped from a mug of coffee. He had been shooting scenes for his sixth season of Fear The Walking Dead, in which he plays millionaire Victor Strand (right)

Colman Domingo was safe in his trailer, having survived the zombie apocalypse. In fact, he looked decidedly unruffled as he sipped from a mug of coffee. He had been shooting scenes for his sixth season of Fear The Walking Dead, in which he plays millionaire Victor Strand (right)

The 51-year-old has become one of the hardest working screen character actors in the business. Not only that; when time allows, he’ll occasionally get behind the camera, to direct episodes of the show

The 51-year-old has become one of the hardest working screen character actors in the business. Not only that; when time allows, he’ll occasionally get behind the camera, to direct episodes of the show

The 51-year-old has become one of the hardest working screen character actors in the business. Not only that; when time allows, he’ll occasionally get behind the camera, to direct episodes of the show

Link hienalouca.com

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