Interview: Kathryn Drysdale, The Windsors, C4

You play Meghan Markle in the new series of The Windsors. What’s her character like in the show?
The Windsors’ Meghan Markle is a bit more L.A. than the real life Meghan Markle, I suppose. She’s not quite into the whole dressing like she’s a royal quite yet, which is fun to play. There’s a lot of fun to be had with that. She still sees herself very much as a humanitarian, as she’s very much in her own world, and she’s sweet – there’s a sweetness to her which is nice to play with.

She’s not averse to pointing out to people that she’s been in the hit TV show Suits, is she?
No, she’s most proud of having been in the hit TV show Suits. At any opportunity, she will tell someone that she was in the hit TV show Suits.

Did you do anything by way of research?
Yes I did, just to get into the world of her and to see what elements of her we were going to send up or expand on. I spent a lot of time looking through her Instagram account, which was very interesting. So I looked at her social media presence. And I looked through some clips of some interviews with her, because I knew that our Meghan Markle was going to be slightly less tame than the real life Meghan Markle. I had a lot of fun going through that, and reading articles about her – she’s quite popular at the moment in the press. That was a lot of fun, actually.

And did you watch the hit TV show suits?
I did watch the hit TV show Suits, yes. Only little bits of it, but my mum and dad are huge fans of the show, they love it.

What about The Windsors – had you watched that before?
I had. You know, even though I’ve done lots of comedy, I don’t actually watch a lot of British comedy, it’s mainly American stuff. But The Windsors, I have to say, is one that I watch, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I watched the first episode with friends, and we were belly laughing, I had stitches. It was wonderful. And now I’m working on the show!

What’s it like, not just coming into a show with an established cast, but one that you’re already a fan of?
I wasn’t nervous about that, because I know Hugh [Skinner] very well, who plays The Windsors’ Prince William, so that was a nice start and I knew some of the crew already. The cast are all just so down-to-earth, so charming, so helpful, it’s probably one of the nicest casts I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of nice casts. But this is a pretty special group of people. It felt a very safe environment to play in, and everybody that I worked with was just so supportive. It’s a real gem of a job, actually.

Did you get to film in some lavish locations, or is it actually all done with wobbly scenery on a building site?
There’s no wobbly scenery, in actual fact, the art department and our designer Mo Holden, are pretty incredible. We’ve had some amazing locations. One stately home was used for several of the main sets that you see in the show, and the art department do their best to recreate what they know of the royal interiors. Some of the work they do is extraordinary. They redecorate whole rooms, they’ll create amazing royal portraits, they’re an amazing team. But the stately home we filmed in was very cold, so the hot water bottles were out between takes.

And your character doesn’t necessarily dress for the cold.
No, The Windsors’ Meghan Markle dresses for L.A. She’s not quite adjusted to being in these royal palaces in a cold and wet England yet. But we’ll see what the future holds for her.

Had you played an American before, and did you study Meghan’s accent at all?
I have played Americans before, and I’ve done American accents in voiceovers quite a bit, so that was something I felt quite comfortable doing. The real life Meghan Markle is from L.A. and I think she’s toned down the whole Californian accent, I think – especially now she’s dating Prince Harry, and her clothes are kind of muted down, and her accent is soft. But The Windsors’ Meghan Markle is still very L.A. I’ve played that before, and I have friends in L.A. so that was easy enough for me to access.

A lot of your scenes are with Richard Goulding [The Windsors’ Harry]. How was it working with him?
Oh he is so adorable, I absolutely loved working with Richard. He was so supportive, and so sweet, that I felt like I’d been working with him for years. He really is a team player, I’ve only got wonderful things to say about Richard. He definitely made me feel comfortable on set.

He’s cornered the market in Prince Harry, really. Did you see him in King Charles III?

He actually played Harry before The Windsors, because he played him on stage in King Charles III. I never saw the play, so I got to see the TV adaptation after we’d filmed the series. He’s fantastic, he’s brilliant as a funny Harry and brilliant as a serious Harry. He’s just a very, very good actor.

Speaking of representations of the royal family on screen, have you seen The Crown?

I have. I absolutely loved it, I think it’s an exquisite production. It’s very different to our approach, of course.

Do you think that for the next series of The Windsors, we should be spending £10 million per episode on it?
Well, that would be nice. We certainly don’t need to, but if we did have that, just think what we could do. We could have a lot of fun, certainly.

Royalty seems to be enjoying a lot of popularity on screen, both the serious and the jokey stuff. Why do you think we have this enduring fascination with the royals?
I think internationally there’s a huge fascination with the royal family. The Americans in particular love anything to do with stately homes and posh people. It’s very British and nostalgic. Shows like The Crown have been so popular overseas. I think maybe 2016 was a year of such problems and such division in the country, I think people want a bit of light relief and a bit of glamour and nostalgia, and a bit of stability, and I think the royal family offers that in an unstable political time.

The show always looks like the cast are having a great time. Did you find corpsing a problem?

I did find corpsing a problem – in particular every time Hugh Skinner opened his mouth. I had to clench my fists to stop myself. He’s just so funny. Harry Enfield as well, the scenes that I had with him, it was nigh on impossible for me not to corpse at times. 

The Windsors is on C4 on Wednesdays at 10pm from July 5.

Interview supplied by C4.

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