The rebel with natural assets

Rachael Stirling, giggling, pointed at my notebook and said, “Look at you, with all your scrawled notes!” A individual with only three lines on his face questioned me recently. Hmm,” I mused to him. You obviously did your research. Not!” Yet you, you’re so square.

Who knows if Stirling’s gold body paint from her role as cross-dressing lesbian Nan Astley in the BBC’s version of Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet was part of those brief notes. The 33-year-old actress has had her mother’s fame and on-screen sexual adventures constantly brought up. While “great actor,” “doesn’t take herself extremely seriously” are both viable options for the third line. While Stirling looks just like her mother, down to the almond eyes and scalloped cheekbones, she is nothing like her glamorously icy mother.

We’ve come to discuss Stirling’s upcoming role in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband on London’s West End. The last time you saw Stirling on the West End was in Michael Wynne’s comedy The Priory at the Royal Court, in which she played the horrifying Rebecca and was nominated for an Olivier Award but also fell on a glass of wine. She exclaims with hysterical laughter, “Oh f***, yes, I was wearing this short skirt and I slid down like a luge.” Although Rebecca was a total badass to play, I had a blast doing so. This kind, good-natured flock usually comes to me. I can’t put my finger on it why. Since it is well knowledge that I am a mischievous child. I’m a bad guy.

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As the devoted wife whose nave view of her husband as an honourable MP is shattered when an old acquaintance, Mrs. Cheveley (Samantha Bond), blackmails him over a previous financial misdemeanour, she plays the wholesome bird in the film An Ideal Husband. You get the impression that Stirling would love to play the manipulating Cheveley because she “had all the better lines” because of her wit and waspish charm. But she is quite enthusiastic about the play, arguing that it is timely since it depicts a politician-in-training who is caught with his hand in the honey pot. She explains that despite the lighthearted nature of Wilde’s witticisms, there is actually a deep moral complexity at play in the story. But I’m not trying to portray a submissive wife. I struggle with being passive.

Most of Stirling’s time this year has been spent in front of the camera, filming the adaptation of Paul Torday’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with Ewan McGregor and the BBC’s upcoming production of DH Lawrence’s Women in Love. Women in Love is another nude study of love and sex, and it’s the kind of raw drama that the daring Stirling loves. Stirling concurs, saying, “It’s fairly hard core.” I sat in the rehearsal flushed with humiliation, not daring to mention I was about to be on TV carousing stark naked in the countryside for a short moment in An Ideal Husband when someone has to get a tiny bit of her bottom out.

Does she feel uncomfortable unclothed? Yes, naturally. Because of the natural ageing process and the accompanying body changes, I now experience new levels of insecurity than I did when I filmed Tipping the Velvet. But in Women In Love, I look like a regular person, not a supermodel. At one point, I was forced to run barefoot into the middle of a moonlit lake. It turned out to be a very freeing experience. The other women who had applied makeup came up to me and expressed their envy. We need more “naked swimming in moonlit lakes”

Since her mother was always so sure that she wouldn’t let her daughter become an actress, part of her decision to pursue acting was an act of defiance. “I can’t explain what I learned from her because, at the end of the day, she’s a mum,” she adds. In spite of this, I remember being a young child feeling an abundance of affection. They gain their self-assurance from that, I believe. Her goal is to work until she’s 70 years old. She explains, “I don’t worry about the ageing problem since I’ve never been a magazine cover girl, showing up in borrowed gowns.” “I really enjoy what I do.” My day starts off with a bang and I’m full of pep and vigour.

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