Interview with Juliet Stevenson (Matilda Anchor-Ferrers) in thriller WOLF - Starts Today, July 31
PHOTO: Juliet Stevenson as Matilda Anchor Ferrers (Image: BBC/Hartswood Films Ltd/James Pardon)
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How would you describe Matilda?
Matilda is an upper middle class woman from a wealthy family. Her and her husband, Oliver, have two children. The son, who isn't present in the story, is a bit of a big success story which probably means a lot to this family as it seems there’s likely been pressure to be successful in this family. Their daughter, Lucia, who in worldly terms has been less successful and is very troubled. From when we first meet them in the car in the first scene, there is a lot of history and delicate references to the troubles that they’re bringing with them.
Matilda is very devoted and quite dependent on her husband so it’s very difficult for her to find herself cut off from him, as they are quite early on in the story, because she looks to him to be steady, calm, reassuring and have that patriarchal male wisdom. Matilda is highly intelligent, but it feels to me that her intelligence hasn't anywhere to go, particularly if she hasn't been working or in a situation where it could be fed or flourish.
This role has been a challenge as you’re normally given a character and you explore who they are and how the story changes them. With this one, they go into such an extreme situation right at the beginning that they’re always in a nightmarish and extremist situation. So you don’t get to know Matilda as she might be on a day-to-day or casual basis.
How does the family dynamic between them change across the series?
At the beginning of the story when they are hijacked, they’re first of all held in one room but they’re chained to different things in the kitchen. Even then, the dynamic begins to change. She's always looking to Oliver for guidance and reassurance but then once they are separated she has to start relying on her own resources in ways she has never been asked to before. For most of the series, they’re separated into different rooms and isolated from each other. It’s interesting as we remove the woman from the relationship in which we find her and we see how she copes in this extremely terrifying situation alone.
In relation to Lucia, Matilda hasn’t really gone on the journey with her daughter to discover what it is that’s disturbing and upsetting for her, so there’s a sense of irritation and disappointment as well as love. But during the course of the series, in this very extreme situation, I think she discovers how profound her love of this daughter is and that she would indeed die for her to prevent her daughter suffering at all.
Can you tell us a little bit about the two narratives, how they're intertwined and how some of the characters never meet?
A lot of the characters never meet the Anchor-Ferrers family. We are in a very isolated part of the story. We literally shot in one location – a mansion - so the Anchor-Ferrers story, vivid and extreme though it is, is always held in the bubble of that one house.
The rest of the story roams all over the place. Jack meets lots of characters, so it's a huge canvas. That's part of the great skill of the writer in how she has managed to keep all these narratives going and that somehow they will end up being part of one whole thing. And it’s really only Jack who finally ends up being in both narratives.
Why should audiences watch WOLF?
I think audiences will be hooked on WOLF because you just can't see where it's coming from or where it's going. That is, for me, the definition of a great thriller. With some, you can quite often see perhaps who's being set up, who will turn out to be the killer or the wrongdoer. But here, you really can't tell. It is extremely thrilling.
The cast are amazing - we have the central character of Jack who is a fascinating version of a crime cracker, but he’s also got this personal history which is quite elusive but it creates that extra depth to him as a character, so you become really interested in who he is. I think that WOLF goes to places which most films and series don't go to, in terms of the level of terror but also the kind of weird, crooked, bizarre, sometimes darkly humorous sort of quality of the storytelling and the characters. It’s not like anything I’ve seen before.
What attracted you to this project?
When I read the scripts, I found it really hard to put them down – I wanted to get to the next episode but I was so frightened when I was reading them, I had to go upstairs and read them beside my sleeping husband because I was too scared to be sitting alone in the kitchen. I think Megan has done a brilliant job with these scripts, really skillful and it’s incredibly challenging to keep everybody's stories alive through six episodes but she has really kept us on our toes. Being able to play characters in these very extreme states was a big enticement as well.
WOLF will air on BBC One, BBC One Wales and BBC iPlayer at 9pm on Monday July 31.
Source BBC One
July 31, 2023 4:00am ET by BBC One