Jodie Whittaker

By C.C. Kellogg

 
Photo by Matt Holyoak

Photo by Matt Holyoak

C.C. Kellogg: Hi, Jodie. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. How did you enter the industry?
Jodie Whittaker: I never really doubted [myself]; maybe I was naïve. I got into Guildhall [School of Music & Drama] in London and left two months early to appear in a play at The Globe opposite Mark Rylance. That was my very first job. I was in that play when I auditioned for Venus, opposite Peter O’Toole, which was my second job. I had a few very lucky, golden first steps into what has now been 15 years of my life. I’ve worked my ass off as well to maintain it. I think so much of success comes down to luck—to being at the right place at the right time at quite a few major turning points.

CCK: Where do you turn for inspiration?
JW:
I read a lot of fiction: words play a huge part in my career, so any kind of literature. I’m a huge music fan, as well, and I go to lots of gigs. It’s important to be around other parts of the creative world. We spend our lives trying to get through the catalogue that is cinema. I always had a huge love for it: I constantly watched films, films I probably shouldn't have watched at certain ages, all throughout my childhood and into my teens. That was a huge influence and inspiration for everything in my life—movie soundtracks in particular played a massive role, especially because I was brought up in the ‘80s. Setting  John Williams as the soundtrack to your life— it just immediately suggests the feeling that anything is possible.

CCK: What are your guiding principles as a performer?
JW: Accessing the ensemble. Particularly with cinema or filmmaking, obviously with theater—we (actors) are the ones who get the credit, but there are 300 other people who make every day on a set brilliant. Continue to see yourself as an ensemble, team player. As a woman, I’m very aware—and I hope this changes— of a window of opportunity. You have to give yourself as much opportunity as possible while you can. It’s such a precious thing, being part of an ensemble, an amazing company—don’t fuck about!

CCK: How does location inform and shape a project for you?
JW: I rarely shoot in London and almost always film away. With something like Broadchurch, where the landscape is a massive part of the narrative, location informs everything you do as a performer. Being by the sea, playing a person from a community by the sea: it does your homework for you. Sometimes you also shoot a place as someplace else—I once did Lithuania as Washington—and that’s always amazing. It’s often when you shoot a period drama, and they take you back in time. Apart from the fact that I get to act for a living, I most love the travel aspect of my work.

It’s such a precious thing, being part of an ensemble, an amazing company—don’t fuck about!

CCK: You’ve also worked in other areas of film production, most notably as a producer.  How has working in new arenas informed your opinion of the film industry and process?
JW: Producing came about while working as a team of two close friends. I executive produced and acted and Rachel Tunnard wrote and directed. Rachel, like every director, had to prove that she could direct. We made a short film and got the financing for the feature. And it was very strange: all of the press said we were a “female” film. We’re not a genre! Rachel is consistently referred to as a “female” director: She’s a director. She’s a writer. You’d never describe Aaron Sorkin as a “male writer.” There are a lot of women in the cast, but it’s a film—a story—that references real-life friendships. There just so happened to be quite a few women involved in that story. I love that it won the Nora Ephron Prize, and I love the fact that it has that stamp of a female film doing well, but it’s still frustrating. It wasn't a political statement; it just happened to offer a more realistic representation of how many women feature as part of life.

CCK: What role has female mentorship played for you, as both a performer and a producer?
JW: I’ve hardly worked with female directors, which is incredibly frustrating—there are so many talented female directors and I don’t think they are given enough opportunity. I’ve worked on loads of stuff and I’ve only worked with two—but I have been lucky enough to be in the company of some amazing female producers. Jane Featherstone has been a huge mentor and inspiration to me, and she’s responsible for Broadchurch and a lot of amazing British television.

CCK: What other professional goals do you have for the future?
JW: I played Antigone at The National five years ago; five years before that, it was Awake and Sing! at The Almeida with Stockard Channing. I’ve got a terrible history of leaving it too long; I’m due for a play. It’s my comfort zone. Theater has so much brilliancy without stability, and I’d love to do more [of it]. The Russians, the Greeks—they understood ensemble, and they created phenomenal parts for anyone of any sex or age. ★

Credits: St Trinian’s (2007), The Seagull (Royal Court, 2007), Wish 143 (Short, Academy Award Nominee, 2008), One Day (2011), Antigone (National Theatre, 2012), The Smoke (Television, 2014), The Assets (Television, 2014), Broadchurch (Television, 2013 - current), Adult Life Skills (2016), Upcoming: Journeyman


C.C. Kellogg is a theater-maker from San Antonio, Texas. Recent performance credits include Edgar in King Lear (RMTG tour); Joan in What Every Girl Should Know (FringeNYC; Paradise Factory); performing with the cast of Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More (The McKittrick Hotel, New York City); and Claire Clairmont in Howard Brenton's Bloody Poetry (2017/ongoing). Recent film credits include Ilse in Olivia Martha Ilse (dir. Sophia Kiapos), Caroline in In: Transit (dir. Jaclyn Bethany), and Julie in Relationality (dir. Michael Milizzo). Kellogg is the co-founder of Invulnerable Nothings, a performance collective comprised of both UK and US-based emerging theater artists. BA, Princeton University; MA candidate, Bath Spa University.