Interview – Jessie Buckley

Interview – Jessie Buckley

Art should make you feel something – good, bad, or indifferent. It is these emotions that make artistic expression effective, and in the case of film, they are essential when it comes to conveying a story. Compelled by the magic of storytelling, Irish Actress Jessie Buckley has been given the opportunity to play a list of compelling characters through the years. From her roles in the A&E mini-series War & Peace, to BBC’s The Woman in White, and FX’s Taboo, Buckley has lit up screens with equally impressive performances each time out. Speak of which, her latest leading role as Moll in the new, moody Drama Beast, could be her best to date. Recently, we caught up with the talented actress to talk her inspiration, taking on the task of playing Moll in Beast, plus more. – Over the past decade, you have been extremely active singing as well as acting. First, briefly tell us, what sparked your passion for the arts?

Jessie Buckley – Honestly, I think what I love most about what I do is I love people. I love characters, I love stories, and I love telling stories in whatever format that is. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where the art of telling a story – whether it was painting, music, writing, or poetry – was really respected and encouraged. I suppose as a child my parents always encouraged us to experience life with every bit of yourself. I think, ultimately, I find people incredible. I am constantly blown away by people, characters, and the heart of humanity. I want to tell people’s stories and I think I have learned from the different women I have played every time I have done a job. That is what I love about what I do. 


Amazon Prime – That is wonderful. You have been give a chance to play many different characters as well. As we all know, you appeared on the BBC series I’d Do Anything. Would you say that experience helped you in moving forward as a performer?    

Jessie Buckley – Yes, it was the beginning of something. I was very young, I was 17, and I was kind of ignorant to what that show was. What it gave me was a sense of a family. I couldn’t believe that I was part of something that I thought would take years to be, and that was getting a chance to sing. From that, I met incredible agents, made incredible friends with people, but I never really planned any trajectory. I have done so many different things along my journey, it’s been interesting and exciting. I honestly can’t believe I have been so lucky to do the things I have done and meet the people I have met. I am incredibly grateful. – There will be much more to come for you! In recent years, you have starred in a list of well-received television series including War & Peace, The Woman in White, and Taboo. Now you take the lead in the film Beast. How did this role come about for you?

Jessie Buckley – I was sent the script while I was just about to finish War & Peace. I remember reading 20 pages, and it was like a bolt of lightning! I was so shocked by the vision, the character, and the world. I had a very emotional reaction to Moll, I felt connected to her, compelled, afraid of her, and enlightened by her. I went in and did an audition, you never real know until you actually do it, there is a risk, you never really know if it’s inside you and if it will come together. I wanted to meet Michael (Pearce), work with him, explore what we can do together, and from that, he can make his decision. We did, and we got along very well.

It was like everything I have always dreamed of how it would feel like to tell a story, it was an amazing experience. We were both working on our first features as well. We were both hungry to tell this story as honestly, provocatively, and spiritually as we possibly could. To be brave with that, as well as with each other. It allowed us to be vulnerable and push each other’s boundaries. 


BBC – It all worked exceptionally well. The film did well in the festival circuit, and now it received a theatrical release on May 11th. Perhaps the film’s strongest attribute is its atmosphere. As an actress, what was it like for you to help create the mood the film has?      

Jessie Buckley – I think you are actually trying to tell one story collectively. It’s an intense story, but it never felt heavy. If anything, I felt very enlightened and I think because it is kind of an awakening of some sort. With the mood, that is something that changes specifically from scene to scene. That was something me and Michael shared through the filming, it seemed to come to mind as we were doing it. It was a very organic process.

I suppose for me, in performance, to help myself to get into certain mindsets, I would use music a lot. I like to put myself outside, be suprised by myself, and stay open to what is around me so that it could be something that was happening there and then. The production designer created this incredible world of Jearnsy. Those things lent so much to define what the different moods were. – Yes, the settings are magical. Moll is cloaked in mystery for a good portion of the film. There is an element of deception as well. That in mind, how did you prepare for the role of Moll?

Jessie Buckley – I think you get a sense early on, that she is hungry to escape the prison her life has become. She is living in a pugarotry of some sort. You feel there is a rumbling underneath her skin to live again, because she is kind of numb. You don’t quite know what way that is going to go. I think I was probably more frightened for her if she stayed in that space. I don’t think she would have survived… I don’t know maybe she would have survived. I think she was ready for a rebellion of some sort. It wasn’t scary – it was more enliving and it was thrilling! 

Jessie Buckley & Johnny Flynn in Beast – Yes, and you really did a wonderful job with the roll of Moll. The pace of the film is a bit of a slow burn, but it really pays off if you stick with it.

Jessie Buckley – Yes, I think the ambiguity requires the audience to be involved in their own unique, emotional way. Very often with those kinds of films is the thrill of the reveal. I think the different audiences, who saw it across the festivals, have had their own emotional reactions to it, which is lovely and exciting. I think that is what you want, to make somebody feel something. Even if it’s a thrilling or scary situation, to awaken that feeling inside. – Absolutely, that is the mark of a good story, you have to feel something. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?

Jessie Buckley – I am not really a fan of Horror. (Laughs) I am a fan of anything, I watch anything. I don’t have anything specific I love. I think a film that I loved this year, which I thought was fantastic, was Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. I don’t think you can classify that as Sci-Fi, maybe a Horror of some sort, I don’t know. (Laughs)

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