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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