Crystal Clarke Interview: Making Sanditon Season 2
Crystal Clarke, the actress who plays Georgiana Lambe, talked all things Sanditon Season 2 in an interview with MASTERPIECE, sharing insights about friendship, romance, and telling a true, authentic story of Georgiana. From filming highlights to hair and history, she’s got us covered!
Do you have any favorite moments from making Season 2?
Stealing Lord Kingsley’s carriage and going for a joy ride on the beach with dear Alison was definitely my favorite of Georgiana’s moments for Season 2. I think that was just next-level mischievous, to do whatever I want but then also get back at this guy who I’m clearly not interested in, who just wanted to talk to me for my money. So good. We had a really nice day when we filmed there.
And then in the first week of filming, coming back from two years off since filming Season 1, was when the army threw a dinner and a ball, and I had a great time doing it. It was really intense because we were all of a sudden in this closed room with loads of stuff in the air to give it a smokey, ball-like aesthetic. We were all doing our dances and I was dancing with Turlough [Arthur Parker] again, and seeing Charlotte Spencer [Esther Babbington], and it was so fun! It was just really nice to be in a room with people you hadn’t seen for two years. But it didn’t feel like it had been that long at all—when you go away from certain friends and then you come back together, it just feels the same.
Georgiana and Alison develop a lovely friendship in Season 2. How did you get along with Rosie Graham, the actress playing Allison?
It was so nice, Rosie’s such a sweetheart. During filming, she would text me and say, “let’s go be social butterflies” at the end of the day. She definitely kept me young and sociable. But Rosie and Frank [Blake, who plays Fraser] and Max [Ays, who plays Carter] had their little cute crew, and I would hang out with them a lot. Yeah, Rosie’s a sweetheart. She is not as green as Alison, but she’s definitely as sweet.
In Episode 4, it was a very powerful and moving moment when Georgiana rejects Lady Denham’s cake. What was that scene like for you to do?
You first hear her mention the sugar boycott at the beginning of the season, in the tea rooms. And at first, I wasn’t really sure where we were going with Georgiana in Season 2, so it was nice to be able to bring in that element of her fight, and in an historically accurate way. Being able to act that moment, denying the cake, stepping forward and making that speech, and then having everybody go along with it, that was very powerful.
It was important that we really started to look into, and Justin [Young, head writer] really started writing, the perspective of Georgiana, realizing how much she has gotten from the slave trade—how much of her comfort and her privilege and what she is, and the safety that she’s allowed to live in at that time—how much of that comes from the sugar trade and other people who look like her, and her mom suffering from the institution of slavery. It felt really good for us to be able to start bringing that up as a question for her and identity, because lot of Georgiana is counterintuitive and contradictory, so it’s really interesting for those depths to be explored.
Can you talk more about looking into telling Georgiana’s story from her perspective, what that process was like for you?
It was my wish that, if I was to come back for Season 2, there would be more people of color involved in the process. For Season 2, our head writer was still Justin, and more writers [of color] were brought on, and consultants like [script consultant] Dr. Sharon D. Johnson and [historian of Black British history and literature] S.I. Martin were involved. There was a lot that would go through them that was really helpful, because I no longer felt that if there was something that didn’t feel or sound right, I had to fact check it. We also had Ethosheia [Hylton, director] come in to direct the second half of Season 2. That was my first time working with a Black female director, and it was so refreshing to be able to be in meetings about the script with her and Justin. There were things that she could pick up on that I missed, because I’m one person and I can’t pick up on every single thing, and it was so helpful to have her there on set, because that influences the lens through which we’re seeing Georgiana portrayed. So I felt really, really good about those steps forward, huge steps to have all of these people involved behind the scenes.
In working with the historical consultants, was there anything you learned that really surprised you?
We actually had a lot of conversations about hair. [Laughs] For Georgiana, we stuck with my curls, my natural hair, and just had different pins and jewels inside of it and stuff like that. My favorite is in the ball in Episode 5, this blackish jewel thing that looks like a crown in my hair. Helen [Tucker, hair and makeup designer] did a great job this season. It was really cute.
So we stuck to that stuff, but we had lots of conversations with the consultants about hair because we wanted to look into types of braided styles that people would’ve done back then. And we don’t necessarily know that they would’ve been done by somebody who was on English shores, but we know that braids are something that would’ve been brought from the West Indies or from Africa. So they were telling us that braids were definitely historically accurate, and something that existed back then. And I know personally, historically, that slaves used to braid maps in their corn rows, maps to freedom. Which is really cool.
Georgiana heaping abuse on Lockhart is a delightful part of Season 2. Why does she treat him with such disdain?
“Treat him mean to keep him keen!” [Laughs] I think that’s part one of it—and it worked, obviously—and I think, for part two, she just does not know who to trust. When she thought that she trusted herself to trust someone [Otis], she couldn’t trust him, either. So she’s putting him through the tests.
As we look at Georgiana’s relationship with Lockhart, it strikes me that part of it is her desire to be truly seen. Is the question of being seen part of her overall journey in Season 2?
Yeah, I think that’s definitely true—she does want to be seen. And that is definitely the basis for that her interest in Lockhart, because she feels that she can see him, so therefore that must be a space where she can feel truly seen. But what she’s actually looking for is to be seen the way that Otis saw her.
Part of her wanting to be seen is her not really seeing herself. So I think Season 2 is definitely still a journey for her towards trying to understand who she is. And I think she starts to realize that you can’t achieve that through other people’s eyes.