The six-episode ITV dramedy Girlfriends, available weekly at Acorn TV (a streaming service focused on British and international television from RLJ Entertainment), follows three friends who are struggling with the responsibilities that come with being a modern woman of a certain age. After the sudden death of her husband, Linda (Phyllis Logan) turns to her childhood friends, Sue (Miranda Richardson) and Gail (Zoë Wanamaker), to come to terms with being on her own after over 30 years of marriage, but the three women quickly learn that there could be more secrets and deception in their lives than they ever could have imagined.
While at the TCA Press Tour presentation for Acorn TV, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with actress Miranda Richardson for this 1-on-1 interview about why Girlfriends appealed to her, what she most enjoyed about playing this character, the biggest challenges of the experience, and whether she’d like to continue to explore Sue. She also talked about why she wanted to play Madame Tracy in the Good Omens TV series (based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and with Gaiman as showrunner) for Amazon, and what she looks for in a project.
Collider: This series is so fun and funny. Was that part of the appeal?
MIRANDA RICHARDSON: Yeah, I think so. I don’t think I even realized, fully, on first reading, the comedic potential of it, but I’m pretty sure that’s why Kay [Mellor] saw me. She had seen comedic stuff that I’d done and thought I could bring that to it. Even when things are falling apart for Sue, you can still have a bit of a guilty chuckle. It’s just like, “Stop and look at yourself, for a minute! Just calm down!” Some of us can relate to that, on occasion, or know people who are like that, who are driven and missing some of the important things in life.
What do you most enjoy about playing this particular woman, and what were the biggest challenges in playing her?
RICHARDSON: I enjoy just going to work every day, really, and knowing that there were some very decent scenes to play and to get your teeth into. The challenge is the amount of dialogue. It’s so not cinema. It’s plotty. It’s very skillfully done, but we have to get this across in this scene. Sometimes I cringe and go, “Is there a way for it to not be so obvious?,” but at the same time, it’s a comedy and you’re allowed to say it in those words. That’s part of the comedic bit of it. It’s just quite camp. You’re meant to go, “Okay, I get it. It’s that sort of a drama.” It’s on a cliffhanger, and then you move into the next episode and go, “I wonder what’s gonna happen!” There were so many words. Poor Kay, I think I gave her a version of events, on a good day. She actually gave up and said, “It sounds the same. It’s all right.”
How did you find the experience of working with Zoë Wanamaker and Phyllis Logan?
RICHARDSON: As actors, they’re thoughtful and precise and playful. There wasn’t much time for playing around on set because television, by its nature, is all about, “Get on and do it and make the day.” Kay directed the first three episodes, and in week one, she said, “Right, so this is the rehearsal. Anything you want to say about any ideas you’ve got, this is the time. Not too much is gonna change, but let me know if anything doesn’t sit right.” I was thinking, “This is just the week before. This is all gonna change when we actually do it.” I think she really thought there wouldn’t be any questions that came up. That’s only the beginning of the process. On any given day, I might say, “What time of day is it?” She’d go, “How is that relevant?” She did have an answer for everything that you came up with. Absolutely, she knows her story, inside out, and she knows her plotline. She’s got a laser sharp brain. But I did think it was amusing that we were supposed to get all of our questions out of the way, the first week we were up there.
I loved the moments you had with Anthony Head and I was really rooting for Sue to stick up for herself. Were you rooting for her, too?
RICHARDSON: Absolutely! Anthony has got a wonderful quality. He’s a lovely actor and he’s Mr. Handsome, but there’s a little weakness there that he can play, too. It’s just how he comes across. It’s brilliant and it works so well. That was quite fun. It’s not like she sinks her teeth in and eviscerates him, or anything like that. It’s meant to be a mature discussion between equals, but it doesn’t come across like that. She could actually run rings around him, but she can’t even see it. That first confrontation was fun. That scene was fun. It’s for the better because there were gains made from things she can let into her life much more. It’s arguably a better type of life.
Is this a character that you’d like to play some more, if there are further seasons of Girlfriends?
RICHARDSON: Yeah! I think there are opportunities. I’m sure Kay has already thought about where she might take them, if it were to go for another [season]. It’s a question of the comedic arc of it, I suppose, where that would go and how plausible it would be. I think she had fun with it, writing these women.