Rachael Stirling ‘sobbed’ through late mum Dame Diana Rigg’s last movie Last Night in Soho

Rachael Stirling, 44, actress, discusses taking care of her mother Dame Diana Rigg, the importance of being “inappropriate,” and the brilliance of Anna Maxwell Martin.

As of right now, where are you?

Currently, I’m at my own residence. My son and I just made the school drop-off. Jack, age 4, has recently started kindergarten. This makes me so happy. Assuming you’ve achieved this level of detachment, you’ve likely also succeeded as a parent.

Guy Garvey [lead singer of Elbow] has gone on tour, so I’ve been responsible for getting the kids fitted for their new uniforms. Now that I’m back, I have six hours to accomplish whatever I want, but I usually finish everything in the first hour and then just sit around doing nothing.

Your latest drama, Hollington Drive, looks great. Can you tell me about the interaction between your character Helen and Anna Maxwell? Martin creates a compelling Theresa in this study.
I appreciate it; yep, it’s totally up my alley. I enjoy character-driven, action-packed thrillers like this, and the way filmmaker Carolina Giammetta has filmed this film is fantastic. I enjoy the unexpected turns. You won’t believe how fashionable it is.
It delves into the depths of human nature, exploring our deepest anxieties about the choices we would make as parents in the face of a dire emergency. For how long would you wait?

It’s intriguing to compare and contrast the bonding processes between Helen and her only kid Eva, and Theresa and her only child Ben.
Even if Anna and I were the best actors in the world, the show wouldn’t work if Eva (Amelie Bea Smith), Ben (Fraser Holmes), and Alex (Hughie Harmer) weren’t phenomenal.

As Fraser’s first employment, he has the ability to think on his feet.

Would you say that the bond between a mother and her lone kid is especially strong?

Yes, I do. I can imagine the bond between a mom and her only kid, a daughter, being quite strong. Helen has this issue with her daughter, just as I did with my late mother, Diana Rigg: she feels she always knows her daughter’s innermost thoughts.

Helen makes a huge mistake by ignoring her daughter’s advice. Eva, I believe, fears her mother yet desperately wants her acceptance. That’s the tension, and therein comes the intricacy — to quote Sigmund Freud — of those connections.

Tell me about your favourite moments when collaborating with Maxwell Martin.
She has a lot of energy. When Anna comes on set, you had better have your act together ahead of time if you aren’t a genius and have to look at the script from time to time to remember your lines.

Anna’s hilarious anarchy demands that you stay alert lest the rug be ripped out from under you.

Do you really need that on-set humour when you’re dealing with subject matter as serious as Hollington Drive?

That’s right; they’re absolutely crucial. Your frustration was released. You act in all the ways you know you shouldn’t under the pressure. The transition from frenzy to mourning does not seem all that dramatic to me, or to us.

It’s not far at all, but if I were to stray too far into method and take myself too seriously, I’d drain my energies.

Also Read: The Avengers star Diana Rigg leaves £3million of her fortune to her actress daughter Rachael Stirling

Have you enjoyed your latest job as a guest star on Grantchester?

Having the chance to portray the sweet and sassy Margie Danker was a blast. Two weeks after Mama’s death in 2020, I was presented with the opportunity. Since I was her primary caregiver, I had completely forgotten that I also had an acting career.

However, Mom enjoyed discussing her job. Do you know what?’ I asked myself. That’s the right choice, and I know my mom would be proud.

Although I felt a bit unsteady on set, I was overjoyed to be working with such a positive group of people, including Robson Green, Tom Brittney, sweet Tessa Peake-Jones, and everyone else. Work ethic and mental and emotional investment are key. These are the kinds of things that were important to my mother, and they are also important to me.

Last Night In Soho, your mother’s final film, will soon be released. I’m curious whether you’ve seen it.
I did, and it was fantastic. My entire journey was accompanied by tears. I cried so hard that I ended up all over the filmmaker, who was waiting outside to hear my reaction, Edgar Wright. In a word, it’s hilarious.

I’m curious as to how you plan to spend the rest of the day?

Going to St. Paul’s in Covent Garden, the church of actors, to see the revered Reverend Richard Syms, an actor with whom I performed in my first West End show. The next step is to meet with others and make plans for the plaque I’ll get for my mom, which is a source of great pleasure.

I have finally decided what to put on it. It won’t be as much fun as I’d hoped, because I wasn’t allowed to be quite as irreverent as I’d hoped. They initially provided me with a bench. They lamented, “We are out of plaque space at this time.”

Also Read: When Covid shut the theatres, I became my mother’s carer. Returning feels defiant