This year, 24-year-old Liverpool native Jodie Comer struck her breakout role with The White Princess, Starz’s sequel to the hit BBC mini-series The White Queen. In the show, Comer plays a young Elizabeth of York, corsets and all. Luckily, the actress was prepared for the costume drama, thanks to a childhood obsession with another leading Brit. ” I grew up watching Keira Knightley films nonstop,” said Comer. “I always admired period dramas and just everything that goes into it.” As for the period dressing itself, Comer has come to find one downside to putting on the look: sneaking in a quick snooze. “The hardest part about a corset is that you can’t really nap at lunch,” she said. Here, the actress discusses her hit Starz show, her crush on Paul Rudd, and why shopping is her secret skill.
Do you remember your first audition?
My first professional audition was for a radio play in Manchester. That was the first audition that I got. It was my first paid job, which I think was like £150, and I thought it was megabucks.
How did The White Princess come about?
Starz found me by sending me an e-mail for an audition for The White Princess. I had one first, initial audition, which went pretty well, which then led to a recall. A week later, I had found out that I got the role, which is very unique. That doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes you’re waiting a very long time, and sometimes you don’t hear anything at all. So that was a nice experience. I grew up watching Keira Knightley films nonstop, and I always admired period dramas and just everything that goes into it. I feel like when you perform in a period drama, it’s so easy to transform yourself into someone else because the costumes are so different. The hardest part about a corset is that you can’t really nap at lunch. I hear a lot of people saying that they can’t eat. I still eat, and probably that’s my problem; it all just holds in your stomach. I don’t have the resistance to not eat very much when I’ve got a corset on.
When you are playing a real person, do you feel obligation to read up on them?
if you’re playing a real person, you definitely need to do some research. The great thing about playing Lizzie [Elizabeth of York] was you could find this information, but at the end of the day, no one lives to tell the tale of what she was like. So you still have so much freedom to make her your own.
You also have some very intense sex scenes.
I think the tricky thing about that particular scene in episode one is that in the book, it is actually a rape scene. When we came to shoot it, Emma [Frost, the show’s writer] was very clear that she did not want to show that on the show. What I think is quite interesting about that scene is Lizzie kind of regains as much control as she possibly can. She senses his weakness, and she essentially humiliates him. It’s an interesting scene. I find it quite harrowing because I acted it, and then we had a screening and a lot of the audience were cheering her. It was quite something.
Because of the show, your face is on a lot of buses. Have you stopped to take a picture with one?
No, I haven’t. I was in the airport flying home from New York a couple of weeks ago and I was in the shop, and there was all the books with my face on it. I tried to get a sly picture without anyone seeing, because I thought, “Oh my God, if someone sees me taking this picture, you’re gonna be such a narcissist. Get a grip. Go away.” But, I had to.
Who was your cinematic crush growing up?
Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man. Laughter is the way to my heart, and I find him hilarious and he’s cute. I just love that scene where they’re in the concert and slapping the bass. I want to be in a concert with Paul Rudd slapping the bass. And Jason Segal. But, I mean, I didn’t want to sound greedy. You said one.
What movies make you cry?
A movie that makes me cry every time is Billy Elliot. That scene where he’s dancing in the hall, and his dad walks in. And the first time his dad can see how amazing he is dancing, but he’s so conflicted with kind of his own feelings towards it. Oh, it’s so emotional. Forrest Gump, as well. The scene with the kid, and that scene at the end when he goes to the tree where he buried Jenny.
What was your favorite birthday growing up?
Is it really bad that I can’t remember my birthdays? What did I do on my last birthday? Okay, so I went for food with my friends, my girlfriend, and then we went into town and had loads of cocktails. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember my birthdays.
Do you have any secret skills?
I know how to sew. I’m a really good sewer. Is shopping a skill? Let’s go with that. I love clothes. I love food.I probably spend most of my money in Marks & Spencer. I did a little bit of walking around yesterday in New York and went to Opening Ceremony. I could never pull any of that stuff off, so I just appreciated it and then left.
Have you been out to Los Angeles yet?
I went to L.A. for the first time at the beginning of the year. I loved it. When I first got there, I was so overwhelmed. It was my first time in America, so I kind of felt like I was on a different planet. It felt like a video game. It was really weird. I’d done five weeks of general meetings, which is a lot of kind of going into a room, introducing yourself, and basically just speaking about yourself for 15 minutes. So after five weeks of that, at the end you kind of want to punch yourself in the face. But it was lovely. I stayed with my friends. It was nice to have some sunshine, because we don’t get a lot of that in Liverpool.
Do you still live with your family in Liverpool?
I can’t bring myself to leave just yet, but it’s gonna get to a point. My brother’s still at home, too. He’s 21. And I said to my mom, “You do realize we’re gonna be the film Step Brothers. We’re both gonna be 30, 40-odd years old, and we’re still gonna be in the kids’ rooms.” Which would be a lot of fun, but I’m hoping I can bring myself to fly the nest at some point.
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“In the show I play an abused woman, and I felt very exposed and deeply humiliated. I remember lying on the floor in the bathroom at the end of a difficult scene, and I wouldn’t get up between takes. I was just lying there, basically naked in half-torn underwear, and Jean-Marc Vallée [the director] would come over and place a towel over me. It was very hard.”
Kidman wears a Miu Miu dress and coat.
“As a girl, I was obsessed with the program 20/20—especially with the coanchor Hugh Downs. I thought I was going to marry Hugh Downs for a really long time. He was so dignified. Everything was going to be all right because Hugh Downs was going to tell you the important story you needed to know that Friday night. They just don’t do newsmen like him anymore.”
Marling wears a Prada dress.
“My first crush was Jessica Lange in Tootsie. I was maybe 8 or 9 when I first saw the movie, and I had never felt anything for a girl before that. I was just mesmerized by her. I watched the film over and over again because of Jessica Lange. I’m still not over her. Every time I meet someone, I compare her to Jessica Lange in Tootsie. That’s probably why I’m not married.”
Skarsgård wears a Cleverly Laundry robe; Schiesser Revival shirt.
“The Americans mostly takes place in the ’80s, during the Cold War. Anytime you’re wearing clothes that are unlike yours, it just heightens the moment. When I wear heels and silk shirts, slacks and blouses, it makes me feel like an adult. On the show, I wear a cat eye with black eyeliner, and it makes me feel like a panther. It’s so unlike me as Keri—this tired mom in flip-flops and jeans. And I love that transformation.”
Russell wears a Michael Kors Collection top; Philosophy briefs; Manolo Blahnik shoes; Louis Vuitton bracelet.
“For Homeland, I made an audition tape with a point-and-click camera and sent it in. The ratio was off. It was out of focus. I was also wearing the wrong thing, and I filmed it against a door that they later told me made it look like I was in a mental asylum. The producers were like, ‘Where the hell is this kid?!’ In the end, I did seven separate audition tapes of the same scene. They finally said yes.”
Friend wears an Hermès sweater; Sunspel boxers; his own ring and socks.
“I went to work on The Crown four months after giving birth. The queen didn’t wear a corset, but I did in the beginning. Now, in the second season, I have to wear a significantly padded brassiere. In the first season, it was all my own breast work, but now it’s ‘Ha! Where have they gone?’ The queen would be so ashamed of me.”
Foy wears a Louis Vuitton dress; Messika Paris bracelet.
“I usually get stopped in the U.K. before I board a plane. What’s funny is that Heathrow is in a heavily South Asian neighborhood, and the kids working at the airport are fans of mine. So while they’re swabbing me for explosives, they’re asking me for selfies. While they’re going through my underwear, they’re quoting my raps back at me. It’s quite a surreal experience that speaks to the insider/outsider status I’ve felt all my life.”
Ahmed wears a Bottega Veneta sweater; Jeffrey Rüdes pants.
“Even with the show, I still live at home in Liverpool. I can’t bring myself to leave just yet. My brother is 21 and he’s still at home, too. I said to my mom, ‘We’re going to be 30-, 40-odd years old and we’re still going to be living in the kids’ rooms.’ I’m hoping I will be able to leave the nest at some point.”
Comer wears a Marc Jacobs dress; Jennifer Meyer necklace; Larkspur & Hawk ring.
“During the screen test for Stranger Things, one of the directors came up to me and said, ‘Bzzz,’ over my head. He then asked, ‘Are you ready?’ I was like, ‘For what?’ And he said, ‘To cut all your hair off!’ The next day I got the job and I cut it. My hair was down to here, but it’s only hair. After that, I was called ‘boy’ a lot.”
Brown wears a Balenciaga dress and tights; Chanel shoes; Jennifer Meyer ring.
“I worked at McDonald’s for a few months, and I got a couple of dates from taking orders at the drive-through window. I was enrolled in an acting class, and I would practice different accents. I was really bad, but people believed me. A young lady would say, ‘Oh, I forgot to order the strawberry milkshake’ and ask me about my Italian or Irish or Brooklyn accent. We would go out on a date, go back to the McDonald’s parking lot, and make out. Eventually, I had to break it to them that I wasn’t Italian or Irish or from New York. The girls would usually end it right then and there.”
Franco wears a Prada shirt.
“In playing Albert Einstein, I found out that he was not the archetypal absentminded professor. He was an energetic, slightly rebellious, rakish, sort-of-bohemian poet. And he was quite amorous—he had many lovers. Einstein wasn’t exactly a ‘player,’ but he enjoyed women, and when his first marriage fell apart, he became what you would call a ladies’ man. He gave up on monogamy.”
Flynn wears a Calvin Klein Jeans Established 1978 jacket and pants.
“My dad, Stan Lathan, was one of the first black TV directors. He used to direct Sesame Street, and he blindfolded me once, and when he took the blindfold off, I was on the set. I got to meet Big Bird. It was my birthday, and the whole cast sang to me. That was the biggest thrill of my life.”
Lathan wears a Lanvin coat.
“I’m not a big crier. But family stuff gets to me. Fathers and brothers and children. If I wasn’t on This Is Us, I’d be a wet noodle watching the show. I’d be crying along with everyone else.”
Ventimiglia wears a Current/Elliott shirt; his own chain.