Ruth Wilson gauges the ‘incredible’ reaction to ‘Mrs. Wilson’

PBS ‘Masterpiece’ drama presents ‘The Affair’ alum as her own grandmother

Ruth Wilson of ‘Masterpiece: Mrs. Wilson’ Sunday on PBS.

Q: What has the general reaction been to your grandmother not knowing your grandfather had another entire family, as you help to dramatize in “Masterpiece: Mrs. Wilson”?

A: It’s had an amazing response, quite incredible. I think it’s touched a nerve. In the U.K. when it went out, suddenly — publicly — people were talking about secrets and lies within their own families, and how much you really know the people that you’re related to. You may know about secrets, but they’re unsaid, and no one’s encouraged to talk about them.

My grandfather, we had no photos (of him) in the house. There was no mention of him. My grandmother, once she gave us this memoir, we still didn’t talk to her about it. It was bizarre. It’s generational, and it’s also British, but it’s people as well. We keep our secrets close to us, and I think what this show has done has really made people talk about those things that have happened in their own family and given them license to talk about it, because this is so mad. It did create debate and a discussion.

Q: With his having been in government service before he became a spy novelist, how much more do you know about your grandfather now?

A: (The British espionage agency) MI6 still won’t release records. It’s case-sensitive, apparently, so we’re still digging and asking what his involvement was with them and what he really got up to. We have certain facts that we’ve laced into the drama.

He wrote 27 novels, so we have those. And we know where he was, in India in the ‘20s and everything else … but we don’t know (some things) for certain, and we’re still asking those questions. There might be more women as well. There might be more families. We’re waiting for the phone calls.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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