Meet the Cast of Press
We’ve got the scoop! Get to know Charlotte Riley, David Suchet, Ben Chaplin, Ellie Kendrick and other stars of Press. Learn where you’ve seen them before, and read all about the real-life investigating they did to prepare for their roles as modern day newspaper reporters and editors – and the new appreciation they have for them. Just catching up? Watch the entire series now on PBS Passport, an added member benefit.
Charlotte Riley stars as Holly Evans, Deputy News Editor of left-leaning fictional broadsheet The Herald. She’s a gifted journalist who lives for her job – and that’s the way she prefers it.
“[Holly’s] very intelligent; she thinks very quickly… she’s got a rapid-fire brain,” Riley explained about her character. “She’s so focused on her work and so focused on her job and what she’s passionate about that she’s slightly blinkered. She has as much weakness as she has strength. That’s what I find interesting about her.”
To prepare for her role as a modern newswoman, Riley and her castmates delved into their research – including meeting and speaking with real-life journalists. “From the research we did and talking to a lot of the journalists, one of the things that seemed to be undisputed was the cost of their personal lives. It’s quite similar to acting, you’ve got to be prepared to miss birthdays and weddings and important moments in your loved ones’ lives for your job.”
In an interview with RadioTimes, Riley also shared her hope that the female-heavy Press cast was reflective of real newsrooms – as well as the film industry and beyond. That includes providing support for career women with children, such as herself. The actress has two children with husband and fellow actor (and Wuthering Heights co-star) Tom Hardy, and she praised the support she received on the set of Press.
“Press were brilliant about me bringing my own child on set, but I’m working on a project to provide on-set childcare, because if we want equality then we have to have childcare for everyone.”
Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Riley starred in MASTERPIECE’s King Charles III as Kate Middleton and on Wuthering Heights as Cathy. She’s also known for her work on Peaky Blinders.
Ben Chaplin stars as Duncan Allen, the Editor at the right-leaning tabloid The Post. Where Holly believes in working herself to the grind and good, honest journalism, Duncan’s ethics and morals certainly differ.
“I think that [Duncan] has probably become desensitized to what he does,” Chaplin said. “He works extremely hard and has become unhappy at home. He has become numb, I think. Duncan Allen definitely considers himself as a journalist first and foremost, but as he’s moved further and further away from being an actual reporter he is compromised by commerce rather than reporting. He has to please an owner.”
Chaplin’s biggest reference when he was getting ready for the series was his own real-life experience as a faithful newspaper reader – even still today. “The irony is this is basically – I can say this because it’s thinly disguised to the point of the font being the same – the papers are basically The Sun and The Guardian,” he told RadioTimes. “It’s so predictable because I’m an actor as well, but I’ve read The Guardian all my life, and there’s something about a paper if you’ve read it all your life. I still buy the hard copy, if that’s what you call it, and it’s funny because it becomes a friend. It’s not whether you agree with it or not, it becomes a family member, you’re blind to its smugness and its flaws, it’s just something that comforts you.”
Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Chaplin is best known for his work on the mini-series Apple Tree Yard, his role in Dorian Gray, and in the 2002 Sandra Bullock film Murder by Numbers.
Hercule Poirot star David Suchet returns to MASTERPIECE as George Emmerson, the CEO of Worldwide News. He’s sharply dressed, cultured, polite, and hugely influential. He can be a ruthless businessman, but also a warm family man. Moreover, he is, perhaps, the only man who can hold power over Duncan Allen and rein him in, when the need arises (and oh, it does).
“He’s not Murdoch and he’s not Maxwell – he’s not any of these great big tycoons, but he is his own sort of tycoon,” Suchet said of his Press character. “He’s got very good values. He doesn’t want sleaze and I think that’s important. He doesn’t want sensational news, he wants good journalism. He’s very, very sure about that.”
Suchet is widely known for his many years breathing life into Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, a role he holds dear to his heart. “Poirot has gone for me; not banished from my memory, but I’m moving on in life, yet I still get these fan letters from people who are watching the series now, and saying the same things that people did when writing to me nearly 30 years ago,” he said in an excerpt from his memoir Behind The Lens: My Life, shared with the Daily Mirror.
“After I finished filming the last episode, there was a sort of grieving process. I’m still grieving now. Because Poirot was my best friend; my alter ego, in many ways. I knew him better than anybody I know. I knew what he’d like to look at. I knew what he’d choose for breakfast. I knew everything about him. I grieve for him in a different way than I grieve for other characters I’ve finished playing, because he was so much a part of my life, and affected it in so many deep and personal ways.”
Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Aside from his days starring as Poirot and in Press, Suchet has credits to his name including A Perfect Murder, Executive Decision and the series His Dark Materials.
Priyanga Burford plays Amina Chaudury, the Editor at The Herald. Amina is determined, ambitious and principled. On the professional side of things, she’s trying to keep The Herald alive. In her personal life, equally messy, she must also weigh some risky decisions.
“[Amina’s] really passionate about good journalism and she’s very proud of the organization that she heads up,” Burford said. “She’s working in an industry where newspapers are dying; readerships are going right down, people are getting their news from other sources…. One of her big challenges is thinking how we keep this going. What do we need to change into? It’s an adapt or die situation in order to keep this thing afloat.”
Burford praised Press writer Mike Bartlett and his scripts for their honesty and realness. “The thing I really like about all of Mike’s work is that he writes real people. Nobody is two dimensional. People can be good, bad, sensitive, insensitive… all at different times. They are all really layered and complicated.”
Where Else You’ve Seen Her: MASTERPIECE fans may recognize Burford from her appearances in series such as Inspector Lewis and King Charles III. She also had a role in 2017’s hit film Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Paapa Essiedu plays Ed Washburn, an Oxford educated rookie reporter with The Post, whose struggling with post-graduate life, and how to balance his beliefs with his professional dreams.
“[Ed’s] quite middle class; he’s the son of two university lecturers but importantly his parents are Herald readers – they are more liberal and left-wing, so it’s a big thing for him to start working for The Post newspaper,” Essiedu said. “He starts off enthusiastic and goes for it, but he’s inexperienced so you see him grow in confidence and experience. He’s a character that does before he thinks. He’s impulsive and is very much led by his ambitions. As an actor it’s my job to honor that, and to not judge him. … He’s got professional ambition and he wants to be the best. He is very, very talented and he wants to go far – but at what point does he compromise his morals to do that?”
Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Essiedu has previously appeared in the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express as well as in a number of productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, such as King Lear and Hamlet, both in 2016.
Grantchester’s very own Al Weaver plays The Herald’s Investigative Reporter James Edwards, an earnest, charming and enthusiastic reporter whose biggest concern is landing a big enough story to keep his job in an industry that’s not so secure.
Weaver researched the industry before jumping into the role – and he was surprised by what he learned. “The main thing for me was how obsessive and inconvenient the job can be,” he confessed. “Not unlike being an actor strangely. These people never stop and it seems the main fatality is a loss of personal life and time to oneself. You’re completely at the mercy of the ever-changing world around you. As it unfolds, you react and report… date night or not.”
What Else You’ve Seen Him In: Weaver is best known for his role as Leonard Finch on Grantchester, which is currently filming its fifth season. He’s also appeared in films such as the 2006’s Marie Antoinette (starring Kirsten Dunst), 2004’s The Merchant of Venice (starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes), and 2018’s Colette, alongside Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson.
Ellie Kendrick plays the young, bright-eyed and resourceful Leona Manning-Lynd, a reporter at The Herald. Leona believes in new-age, modern approaches to reporting and media, but she soon learns the value of the old-school ways that Holly, Amina, and her coworkers still live by.
“[Leona’s] really ambitious but really for her journalism is about getting the story right for a modern audience and making sure that people of her age are able to consume the news in the way that she wants them to,” Kendrick explained. “At first there’s a sense of inadequacy that Leona has, but she really has to learn how to push herself much further than she was expecting and meet the challenges that Holly sets for her.”
Kendrick was another cast member who delved into her research for the role. “As a group we all went into a few different newspaper establishments to try and get a sense of the different workplaces that we might be compared to in this show,” she said. “I also have friends who are journalists so I was able to talk with them a little bit about their experiences of working in the office and going out and following up on stories. The sheer amount of work that’s involved in following up an investigation was something I found really interesting to learn about. Perhaps it will be interesting for journalists to see a bunch of actors playing their roles.”
For Kendrick, who is best known for her role on Game of Thrones as Meera Reed – a much different world and role, certainly, there were new challenges to filming something like Press. “One of the most exciting challenges has been getting the comic timing of this character right as well as trying to make her grounded in reality and a relatable character, who you might see in your everyday life,” she said. “The script is so delicious, the words are so much fun to say and perform… really making sure that we all, as a team, make the most out of Mike [Bartlett]’s words and honor them – that was really important to all of us. Also getting a chance to do a comic role, that’s always something that I enjoy.”
Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Kendrick played Bran Stark’s companion Meera Reed on Game of Thrones for four seasons. She also played Helen on the TV series Misfits and appeared in the 2009 award-winning film An Education. MASTERPIECE fans may also recognize Kendrick from her role as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank.