How Michelle Fairley found her character’s voice in Starz’s ‘The White Princess’

Michelle Fairley

Q: Some actors say that to get into a character, they will put on a costume, stand in front of a mirror and eventually a voice will come out. Was that the case for you in playing Lady Margaret Beaufort in “The White Princess”?

A: It doesn’t come out instantly. It’s one of those things that, for me, it takes a long time just by rereading the script, rereading the script, trying to find something that is your – it’s like finding the key that opens the door that unlocks your beginning of the journey, and it’s incredibly nerve-wracking.

Like your first day of filming, because you’re just like, “OK, what I do from now, it’s either a forward journey or it’s something depending on where you start, you either have to keep going along that road or you have to work your way back.” If you’re starting at episode four, not episode one. So it’s hitting levels correctly and it takes time. Also the writing informs the way your character speaks, the structure. If they’re a peasant, there’s a structure within the writing as well. (The characters) spent a lot of time in Wales, so they wouldn’t (have a standard English accent). They’re regional, but what is regional?

Q: What do you admire most about Margaret?

A: Her devotion, her dedication to her life, her tenacity and never giving up. But it is that thing of constantly – like when you achieve something, what is your next aim, what do you do next? And then with her, I think it’s like once you’ve achieved the relationship (of her son Henry and Lizzy), she then starts to observe that the marriage, which was a marriage of convenience, is now beginning to blossom into a marriage of (love). After the birth of their first child, her power starts to sort of eke away as they become a stronger family unit.

And so therefore Margaret’s position of power starts to decrease as Lizzy’s rises, basically. And it’s one of those things where what is her next goal then? Where does she go next? And what do you do to preserve it?

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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