‘Normal People’ star Daisy Edgar-Jones is celebrated in Locarno
Finally, one of the pandemic’s breakout stars, Daisy Edgar-Jones, was at the Locarno Film Festival, where she accepted the Leopard Club Award and presented her latest film Where the Crawdads Sing, based on a novel by Delia Owens.
“The whole idea of being a ‘breakout star’ is weird to understand anyway. The weirdness that happened along with the weirdness of the pandemic meant those things will forever be mixed up for me,” she says diversitycommemorating the triumphant reveal of Normal People during lockdown.
“Actually, nothing changed in my life. I was still on Zoom in my bedroom. This year I’ve been even more grateful to be able to support the projects I’ve been working on and actually be with the people I’ve been doing them with.”
Her new film, set in the South and beginning in the 1950s, gave Edgar-Jones a chance to portray a woman who harbors a secret.
“It’s an interesting thing to play. Not playing, that’s really the goal. They want to take the audience to different places so the suspense lasts throughout the story,” she says.
Her character, Kya, is not a clean housewife: she hunts for food, lives alone, and is not ruled by the men in her life, notes Edgar-Jones. Until she faces murder charges and is already found guilty in the eyes of a community that has rejected her all her life.
“This notion of her as ‘Marsh Girl’ is one that was entirely made up by the people of town. We wanted to highlight how to misunderstand someone, paint a picture of them [in your mind] and find it difficult to distinguish between this version and the actual person.”
But Kya is no one’s victim, and years of loneliness and abandonment, or even romantic disappointments, can’t bring her down.
“This resilience and going on despite many difficulties is one of the aspects of Kya that I found very relatable. It’s a very human quality: to keep going,” says Edgar-Jones.
“I read this story during the pandemic and a lot of people rooted for it during that time. It was a time of collective need, when life changed in ways we didn’t expect. But she is able to recover and survive in this hostile environment. And thrive.”
The film was directed by Olivia Newman, with Lauren Neustadter and Reese Witherspoon producing.
“There were empowered women both behind and in front of the camera,” adds Edgar-Jones, noting her “leadership.”
“Sometimes it feels like people are saying, ‘You’re brilliant filmmakers. And they are WOMEN!’ Actually it should just be: ‘They are brilliant filmmakers’.”
“I hope it won’t be anything out of the ordinary anytime soon. That it will be normal that the best person for the job can be hired.”
It was normal for her, though, as she’s also worked with Hettie Macdonald on Normal People, who co-helmed the hit show with Lenny Abrahamson, or with Mimi Cave on cannibal horror comedy Fresh.
“For Mimi it was her first project. It’s exciting to work with people early in their careers and I can’t wait to see what she does next. She did such a brilliant job with this film,” she says, adding that she loves to morph for the job.
“I did ‘Fresh’, ‘Crawdads’ and so on [miniseries] “Under the Banner of Heaven” in a row and it’s been fun delving into these very different worlds and environments.”
The latter is about the Mormon community in the 1980s and a shocking murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty and was inspired by Jon Krakauer’s true crime bestseller. But Edgar-Jones tries not to get bogged down in research when preparing for roles, tempting as it may seem at first.
“The best advice I’ve ever received was, ‘Take it seriously, but take it easy.’ That applies to many things, but especially to work,” she says.
“I take it seriously, but I also try to see this process as something that can be fun and constantly changing. If you’re too rigid, you won’t be open to what the other actor is giving you.” Or be able to just take it in and enjoy it.
“The very first film I ever made, when I was 19, will also premiere at the festival. At the same time as ‘Crawdads,'” she points out. Bill Buckhurst’s Pond Life was released in 2018.
“When I did that, I didn’t know if I would ever work again, and yet here I am. I just feel lucky and lucky.”
https://variety.com/2022/film/festivals/daisy-edgar-jones-where-the-crawdads-sing-2-1235335426/ ‘Normal People’ star Daisy Edgar-Jones is celebrated in Locarno