Her scene-stealing role in BBC hit The Night Manager turned her from unknown Aussie actress to household name. Say hello to Marie Claire's talented January issue cover star, Elizabeth Debicki.
Elizabeth Debicki began this year as a relatively unknown Aussie actress. One major BBC drama later (hello, The Night Manager) and she’s ending it on the cusp of stardom and the cover of Marie Claire’s January issue.
Writer Martha Hayes met Debicki in the appropriately thespian setting of the National Theatre foyer, where she’s currently treading the boards in The Red Barn, a new play adapted by The Hours screenwriter and playwright David Hare. ‘Usually people [who spot me] argue about whether or not I’m from The Night Manager,’ she says, ‘It’s as if they’re thinking, “You look familiar, but you’re such a tired-looking, unglamorous human, and you were so glamorous in the show…”‘
Elizabeth’s Debicki’s turn as Jed in the BBC One drama attracted six million viewers per episode. In the interview, Debicki discussed being directed by a woman [Susanne Bier]: ‘Would I have played the same character had a man been directing me? I don’t know. Susanne was able to understand and embrace the femininity of the female characters and not objectify them, and that’s why women responded to the show as well. Is a man capable of that? Yes, of course. I can’t walk around and say, “I would rather be directed by a woman,” because that’s not the case. For me, it’s about the person – and their sensitivity and intelligence – it’s not about gender. But, the amount of women who are directing TV and film is disproportionate, and it has to change.’
In her own downtime Debicki likes to swap fictional drama for the ‘kitchen cupboard’ variety in Bake Off. ‘[That show] has become such a symbol of freedom for me. I love baking. For everyone under stress in their work life, certain things become symbols of peace, like watching Bake Off, reading a book or eating a chocolate biscuit, it’s like, “I’m surviving, I’m alive.”’
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She also revealed the ‘how to stay sane’ career advice Cate Blanchett gave her, a tip Blanchett herself was given by Meryl Streep. ‘Always wash your own socks. I did it this morning. I felt like I was getting on top of things. It’s very therapeutic to do your laundry and I don’t know what the alternative is… get someone else to do it?’
Read the full interview in the January issue of Marie Claire, on sale now
Photographs by Jesse Laitinen, styled by Jayne Pickering