Cast Interview: Heida Reed

Say goodbye (this time for real!) to Poldark‘s Elizabeth Warleggan and Heida Reed in this exclusive MASTERPIECE interview, where she reveals how she wants Elizabeth to be remembered, compares Poldark to an office, ranks the show’s most notorious villains, and more!

MASTERPIECE: In thinking about your role this season, it occurred to me that you’re playing an entirely different character that’s not Elizabeth, but George’s delusion of her. Can you could talk about how they’re different, and how you went about playing those differences?
REED: I think because they were really in his mind, I just kind of stuck to a very idealistic version of her, especially in the way George sees her, which is just perfect. [laughs] So it was in a way a lot simpler than having a three dimensional a character, because it was just to serve his storyline.

Her decisions were based off of survival, and nothing more, really.–Heida Reed on Elizabeth

MASTERPIECE: At what point in the filming production did you come in and do these scenes, and how many days were you there?
REED: I think they had been filming for about a month, and then I came and did a couple of days. Then I came back for another couple of days. It wasn’t much.

MASTERPIECE: Was this in the Bristol studio or were you back in Cornwall?
REED: Yeah, one of the days or a couple of the days we were in the studio and then, we went to Trenwith [filmed at Chavenage House], in the Cotswolds, sort of the north country, basically.

MASTERPIECE: What was it like for you to go back mid-production, and then leave, and then return again?
REED: It was fine, it was like any job if you quit, and then you sort of pop by to say hi to everyone at the office a year later. It didn’t really feel like I quit because everyone was still there. I think the only difference was that there were a lot of new characters, a lot of new people that I hadn’t gotten to know
MASTERPIECE: Like your children!
REED: Exactly, like my children, their whole story.

MASTERPIECE: Since the last time we had seen Elizabeth in Season 4, she was, sadly, rotting from the inside, was it nice to sort of restore her to her ultimate peak beauty after all that?
REED: Yeah, I think that was nice, though I prefer to play someone who’s slightly more unhinged because it just gives you a little more range. And being perfect in that way can get kind of monotonous. So I especially welcomed the sort of complexity that they kept adding to her.

MASTERPIECE: How do you want Elizabeth to be remembered?
REED: I think I’d like her to be remembered as a woman of her time, that just tried her best to fit into the mold that she was born for. And that she was—I mean, most of the characters are—kind of victims of their circumstances. Except for George, actually, because he really climbed the society ladder and the career ladder. But that wasn’t possible for a woman. So: just as a woman who tried to do her best. She’s really a survivor, and her first and foremost priority was to take care of the children and make sure that they were being looked after. Her decisions were based off of survival, and nothing more, really.

MASTERPIECE: We’re going to be ranking Poldark‘s villains throughout the series. Can you share your ranking, from the absolute worst to the least awful? We’re looking at George, Ossie, Monk Adderley, and then Tom Harry and Harry Harry…
REED: Okay, I would say that the biggest villain is Ossie for sure, because he’s a rapist and an abuser and a complete narcissist, who are the most dangerous kind of people—they always feel entitled, and kind of victimized, if you know, but don’t understand their wrongdoing. So he’s number one.

Monk Adderley, he’s an interesting one. I would probably put him at second, just because he’s quite insidious in a way, and really reveled in messing with people in quite a psychopathic way.

And so, then I would put George. But I think George isn’t a psychopath, and I don’t think he’s a narcissist. You’ve seen that he’s tried to redeem himself and that he has empathy and self-reflection. But he’s just someone with a very, very fragile ego. And power has been something that helped him feel better about himself, or so he thought. So I put him as number three because he would go to extreme lengths that would end up hurting people in order to get what he wanted, much more like a corrupt politician that uses the masters to his advantage or their kind of collateral damage.

And then I would put the Harrys at the bottom. They’re just trying to survive, and if they were given more opportunity, potentially they’d behave differently. So I think essentially, they’re harmless.

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