We catch up with actress Kate Bosworth, who’s starring in the new British drama SS-GB this month…
What can you tell us about your character?
What I loved about Barbara when I first read the screenplays is her initial mystery, and how she develops throughout the series. She’s also questionable, which I was attracted to, and I think you get that right up front in the first episode.
We don’t know who to trust, do we? That’s the main element of the plot.
Absolutely. I mean, all the characters are constantly questioning each other, because it’s such a dangerous and conflicting time.
It’s hard to say, without spoilers, but is there anything you can tell us about Barbara’s character arc over the five episodes?
Yes. I won’t spoil anything. I’d say that she’s never quite who you think she is, and that’s intriguing.
Obviously she’s a journalist, and her position is to observe people. Being a detective, Archer’s position is also to observe people, so when these two very powerful, intelligent, thoughtful individuals come together, there is a bit of a reckoning between the two of them.
They’re fascinated by and attracted to one another, because I don’t think there are many people that can stand toe to toe with one another the way these two do. It’s kind of like a master chess match.
It’s funny because although they’re from different walks of life, they have a similar approach with that observational point of view.
There’s a lot of side stepping and twirling, it’s almost as if there is a great dance scene in the series. Their whole relationship is a bit of a dance, really.
Do you share any personality traits with Barbara?
I’d say I’m also pretty observational. I have that attribute because of my occupation in terms of studying people and why they make the decisions they do.
What’s really interesting about playing different characters is that they can be a serial killer and you can’t judge them. You have to truly psychologically understand why they believe in what they’re doing.
Also, I’d say that we share a sharpness, too. She’s very direct and to the point, and so am I. But that might be an American attribute!
When you’re dealing with the emotional substance of someone and you have an affinity or a connection to a character, it just feels very fluid and good. I really enjoyed it so much.
It sounds like an important role to you?
Yes, I think so because this is the 20th year I’ve been in this industry and it feels like I’m coming into my own in a way that you can only have with experience.
It’s when your experiences as a woman starts to match the depth of experience that the characters have, and I think at that point things start to get really interesting in terms of a career. This character was meaningful in that sense.
You haven’t done much TV; you’re very much a film actress. Did you have any misgivings about being on TV?
I was raised on really brilliant cinema and fluffier television. But now there seems to be a shift: television is a more serious contender than a lot of films currently. And so, for me, the medium doesn’t matter so much. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short film or a TV show or live theatre or a film.
For me, it has always been a choice of: is the material worthwhile? Is it valuable? Is the character something that I want to really commit to for a period of time? Is the director someone I want to work with?
But the medium hasn’t ever really been a part of that decision-making process.
Can TV and film be more than entertainment? When we are talking about an alternative history, can a series like this be important in terms of our own present and future?
Certainly. We are in, I think everyone can agree, a complex, unprecedented time right now. I signed on to this project a year ago, fascinated by the material, and I think anything that’s an alternate history take on material is intriguing for people because there is a sense of reality to it.
There is the fantasy element so you can kind of dip in and out of what could be, what would be. Everyone can relate to that intrigue.
But certainly, I could not foresee a year ago the world being in the state that it’s in and having this project and how significant and timely it is.
Do you think viewers may be shocked by some of the scenes, such as Buckingham Palace being covered in swastikas and the news that Churchill has been shot?
It was shocking to me and I knew it was make-believe!
I was there in costume and knew the set designers and knew exactly what we were doing, and yet it was shocking to me, and I think that is crucial.
I think it is crucial and it is shocking and I think it is crucial that it will always be shocking. As we know, history repeats itself, so I always say with this project, let it be a reminder that we were on the right side of history once. Let’s always be mindful of that.
Catch SS-GB every Wednesday at 8 pm on BBC First, DStv channel 119
By features writer, Stephanie van der Plank