Chloe Pirrie

By Jaclyn Bethany

Photo courtesy of Chloe Pirrie

Photo courtesy of Chloe Pirrie

Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Chloe! Where did you grow up, and where are you currently based? How did you discover acting when you were younger?
Chloe Pirrie: I’m from Edinburgh! I figured out that I loved acting at school; it was my way of making sense of the world. Although I was good at academic subjects, the work always made me anxious, so at age 18 I decided to go to drama school.

JB: Were you always playing pretend as a child?
CP: Yes, I was always playing pretend. I remember getting quite annoyed if anyone suggested anything else at playtime. I was obsessed with animals at the time, so it would either be that or I would impersonate random celebrities like Cilla Black. Those were my two go-to themes.

JB: What were some of your favourite roles that you played while studying at Guildhall School of Music & Drama?
CP: We did this incredible play called The Man Who, based on the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks (1985), which is about neurological disorders. I played a character whose condition meant that she spoke entirely in gibberish, but she knew what she was saying.

JB: Your role in Shell (2012) launched you into the film stratosphere. What attracted you to this project?
I was attracted to the role as soon as I was sent the script… I felt like it could have been written for me, but in the back of my head, I knew that I wasn’t going to get it. It turned out the director had seen the short film I was in, and when he was having meetings with financiers to get the project off the ground, he took along a photo of me (in that short film)—there was something about the image that held significance for the story he was telling.

JB: Tell me a little bit about your experience filming Youth and working with Paolo Sorrentino. I loved your character and thought the film was brilliant.
I love the fact that [Paolo] tells these stories about art within art. It was such a strange filming process, where we wouldn’t know which scene we were filming from one day to the next, but it was an experience that sort of reflected the content of the film, about being lost in space and time. I think I figured out what it was really about when I watched it back.

JB: You next appear as literary heroine Emily Brontë: Did you feel any pressure stepping into this storied role? What did you learn about Brontë and her world during the research process?
When researching the role, I talked to historians, heard all the theories around [the Brontë sisters], and read about the family. That made me feel the responsibility to portray Emily as well as I could. Once we were actually filming, it was far easier to just concentrate on the acting and to not worry about the pressure.

JB: Ok, I have to ask: Do you have a favorite Brontë novel?
Obviously Wuthering Heights! ★