Scott Bates chats with Daphne star Emily Beecham…
Manchester-born actress Emily Beecham is perhaps most recognised for her role in AMC’s martial-arts themed Western series Into The Badlands, but this weekend the 33-year-old can be seen as the titular lead in Daphne, a Fleabag-esque, London-set drama about an ordinary young woman who begins to reassess her life in the wake of a tragic incident.
I talk to Beecham on the afternoon of opening day – later in the evening she’s doing a Q&A session following a screening of the film in central London, and she’s done plenty of others in the past few weeks, so I try not to give her questions she’s heard too many times. I can’t help but ask her though, what drew her to Daphne? “She’s very relatable, I related to many parts of Daphne, not just myself, but friends as well” Beecham tells me. She says she thinks the character – who lives in London, working in a restaurant – isn’t just relatable for women, but men as well. “You don’t see that kind of realistic unisex character women and men can connect with very often”.
Daphne has drawn comparisons to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, but Beecham also says she thinks “Amy Schumer’s film, what was it called? Trainwreck – that’s another example of a similar character I think”, as well as Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, also following the life of a young woman who witnesses a violent incident. “Daphne doesn’t like being concerned”, Beecham says. “Witnessing this, it forces her into a sort of existential crisis”. The attack Daphne stumbles upon – a shopkeeper being stabbed – is “the kind of thing we hear about every day, but people are distanced, and they don’t let it affect them, Daphne doesn’t want to let it affect her”.
I ask Beecham about the transition from working on an action-focused US TV series to a smaller, low-budget British indie film. “Leading a network show is very full on, a different speed to something like Daphne”. Shooting the second season of Badlands took six months, with each episode being “around two weeks”, and the third season will take eight. “It’s a big commitment”. Daphne’s shoot, however, was only three weeks, “although we spent many months before filming, even before we got funding, on planning” Beecham says. She tells me she enjoys projects like Daphne though, as “independent films are a very collaborative effort”, and she enjoys working with a smaller team than on Badlands. “You have two people making a decision, but twenty on Badlands”.
Beecham has been acting professionally since 2006, appearing in everything from The Bill to 28 Days Later and even the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, but would she ever consider directing? “If I had any talent!”. She does seem to have a good idea of what she’d want out of a directorial project though. “I like working with actors, the idea of capturing those unconscious moments in a performance, things that actors just… do”.
Daphne is out in UK and Irish cinemas and on-demand now.