Interview: Lesley Manville of Another Year

Lesley Manville shotDisc Dish had a chat with Lesley Manville, sterling actress of film and the British stage who was most recently seen as Ouisa Kittredge in a new production of Six Degrees of Separation at the Old Vic in London. On screen, Ms. Manville shined as the uptight and needy Mary in iconoclastic writer/director Mike Leigh’s 2010 adult drama Another Year (Blu-ray/DVD combo pack $38.96, Sony, released June 7, 2011).

Disc Dish: Where does Another Year fit in with your journey with Mike Leigh, whom you’ve worked with on seven films?

Lesley Manville: It would be right up there, like All or Nothing back in 2001. Sometimes you have a cameo in Mike’s films, other times you have a middle-type part, and they’re all fantastic. It’s a tribute to him, as we want to do the work. Speaking for myself, he gives me a chance to play challenging characters that are a long way off from what I’ve done for him before.

DD: It’s a strong movie, Another Year.

LM: It’s a nice film, yes, a substantial film. It deals with all the tough stuff that grown-ups have to deal with.

DD: Your character, Mary, is quite a handful. Not to mention she drinks a bit too much.

Another Year Blu-ray image LM: She is the sum total of her own doing. What the film says is that it’s quite arbitrary where you end up.

DD: Can you describe the rehearsal process Mr. Leigh goes through with his cast before the shooting starts?

LM: We have so long to create the characters. For Another Year, we had many, many weeks to prepare. We start with nothing; there are no imposed details on it. It’s not like sticking on a Band-Aid. We work through our creations very thoroughly. By the time the characters make it to the screen, we know who they are.

DD: You’ve also been doing a lot of television work over recent years. Is it as rewarding as film or theatre?

LM: Television is difficult and I don’t particularly enjoy it because of the lack of time and rehearsals. It’s not terribly satisfying. I enjoy my theater work immensely. I’ve worked with fantastic directors in the theater.

DD: Are you interested in sitting in the director’s chair yourself?

LM: I think I could direct if I wanted to. Mike Leigh says I’d make a very good director. But the idea of it has never gripped me enough to do something about it. I don’t know … I like acting too much. If I was directing, I think I’d start telling the actors how to do their jobs.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.