24th January 2024
Belgravia: The Next Chapter returns for a new series starring the lead actress, Harriet Slater. Slater talks to us about her biggest challenge working on the show, her thoughts on a perfect role and she tells us what she gets up when she's not in front of the camera.
What was your experience like working on “Belgravia: The Next Chapter”?
Honestly, I had the time of my life. I’ve always been a fan of period dramas and I grew up watching Downton Abbey, which was also created by Carnival, so it was a dream come true for me. It was a gift of a role and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. The whole cast and crew were so good at what they do and genuinely made every day so fun and so rewarding. Working with Ben was the icing on the cake. He’s the most talented, generous, funny, silly scene partner I could ever have hoped for. It was a special job!
What was the biggest challenge for you working on this show?
Not knowing what to do with my hands?! Our historical advisor, Alastair Bruce, was very strict about that. No hands in pockets and if they were clasped, they had to be at waist height. A big challenge was also the fact that we were shooting out of order, which is the case on most jobs, but the relationship between Clara and Frederick is so turbulent in this show that it was quite difficult sometimes to keep track of. One morning, we could be shooting a scene where we’re in the honeymoon phase, followed by a scene where we’re months into the marriage and slamming doors in each other’s faces, so keeping on top of the arc of the relationship and also our own individual characters’ arcs was tricky. We had our own ways of mapping it out. Ben had a spreadsheet and I had a calendar and there was much consulting.
Who is your role model?
I don’t think I have one single role model. I admire and try to emulate certain aspects of my nearest and dearest, because each of them inspire me in different ways. I try to surround myself with people who make me feel like the best version of myself. I like that quote about being the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I think it’s often true. In work specifically, I remember hearing when I was much younger the story of how Kate Winslet fought for her role in Titanic and feeling really inspired by that. I do believe that if something’s for you then it won’t pass you by, but I also think sometimes you’ve got to back yourself and really go after the things you want.
What is your idea of the perfect role?
One that you feel some sort of connection with. A character could, from the outside, appear very different to you, but there might be something in them that you recognise and relate to or can empathise with, and I think that’s often the best starting point. I’m drawn to characters who are well-rounded and stories that allow you to explore different aspects of their psyche and the things that they might be capable of doing. Someone who’s somehow “flawed” in society’s opinion is always interesting to play. And it’s great when a character ends up in a very different place to where they started and allows themself to be changed by the people they encounter or the experiences they have. Helen Edmundson, the writer of Belgravia, has a phenomenal talent for writing characters who have a lot of depth to them, which I think is what makes this show so great. It’s very much an ensemble piece and there are lots of characters and relationships and storylines to get invested in.
I’m so grateful that recently I’ve been lucky enough to work across a variety of different genres – action adventure, horror, period drama. There’s a lot to be learnt from all of them. It’s great dipping in and out of different time periods too, because it can feel a bit like time travel! The sets and costumes and hair and makeup are often so good that it really does make you feel like you’re in 1960s New York or 1870s Belgravia. I’d love to be in something Tudor, because I’m fascinated with that period of history. I’d love to do some Shakespeare, because the characters are always so meaty and the stakes are so high – there’s a lot as an actor to get your teeth into. And I’d jump at something musical, because that’s how I was first introduced to the world of theatre and where the obsession began.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t acting?
Honestly, mostly sleeping, bingeing series and catching up with friends and family who I often haven’t seen much whilst I’ve been working, especially if I’ve been abroad. Exercise is really important to me because it has such a huge impact on my mental health, so I try to keep active. I also recently got back into playing the piano, because I had to learn a piece for a horror film in 2022. A great part of this job is that sometimes you get to learn skills that you can take with you. I had lessons for a couple of years as a kid but I hadn’t played in a while and I’d sort of forgotten how much I enjoyed it. The film’s called The Haunting in Wicker Park and it’s based on the true story of the first ever televised exorcism in Chicago in 1971. I had a piano in my hotel room in Serbia for practice – and the piece was Chopin so I was practising that thing every day!
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
I shot a second horror film late 2022 which is set for theatrical release in May this year. It’s called Horrorscope (see what they did there?) and it’s about a group of college friends who have tarot readings and then start dying in ways connected to their fortunes. It was a lot of fun to shoot and great to return to Serbia. 2022 was like an extended training programme in horror!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers about what’s happening in your life right now?
I’m about to start shooting something really exciting which will be announced very soon. I can’t wait to be able to talk about it because I’ve been keeping it a secret for months. Watch this space.
Belgravia : The Next Chapter is now streaming on MGM+ and is available via Amazon here in the UK.