Talulah Riley (England, 36 years old) had not yet given her time to understand fame as an actress when it came to her out of the blue for her private life. From a good family, educated in British schools for young ladies, if she wanted to be something she was always a writer, the acting thing came from theater classes at school and seeing that her father, a policeman all his life, began to write series scripts (police, of course) when he retired. Mary Bennet’s role in the pride and prejudice Joe Wright’s with Keira Knightley (2005) was his debut; but it was thanks to St Trinian’s (super pipes in Spanish), in 2007, when his career was launched. And just then her attention came from another side: in 2008 she started dating one of the richest and most controversial men in the world, Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla). In 2010 they got married, they divorced in 2012 to remarry in 2013 and finally divorced in 2016. Sourceby Christopher Nolan, was his last film before marriage and the series Westworld, after the final divorce, his return. In between, secondary and cameos, because she took a break to focus on family and marital life. Now, finally, six years after all that chapter, when her personal life does not seem to matter so much to the tabloids, she feels reborn as an actress and, moreover, as a mature actress thanks to the series Pistol (Disney+), created by Danny Boyle following the memories of Steve Jones and focused on the formation of the Sex Pistols and the punk era in London. In it, Riley plays fashion designer and icon Vivienne Westwood.
Were you a fan of the Sex Pistols before Pistol?
I don’t know if they’re a fan, but I did know them, of course. My father was a policeman at the time so I knew them through him, another point of view I guess [se ríe].
In the series she plays Vivienne Westwood, could you meet her before filming?
Yes, she was very kind and generous to me and agreed to meet us before we started shooting to talk about the period, its looks, its aesthetics. And, in addition, the Vivienne Westwood Foundation opened its archives to us so that we could recreate the entire wardrobe. Not many people know this, but she was the one responsible for the punk aesthetic, the creator of the anarchist symbol. Her partner then, Malcolm McLaren [que interpreta en la serie Thomas Brodie-Sangster, actual novio de Riley]was the manager of the Sex Pistols.
She represents punk, irreverence, rebellion, do you identify with those words?
If we talk about the punk movement itself, I don’t know, it was another time, but I like its aesthetic aspect and its sensibilities. I think saying it now is very cliché, but they perfectly understood the need to change things and the feeling of helplessness when you have no control over your environment. I do understand that feeling, but the reality is that I am one of those who follow the rules too much. [se ríe].
Who would be punk today?
Vivienne Westwood remains our best example. And I don’t know, I guess Facebook when she was born could be considered disruptive, but it’s not anymore.
Now that you mention Facebook, you recently acknowledged that you had uninstalled all social networks on your mobile.
Yes that’s how it is. They are a black hole, I get in and I don’t know how to get out. I have discovered that life is better without being connected all the time
She has been an actress, ‘wife of’, director, novelist, technological entrepreneur… and she is only 36 years old. Is it many lives in one?
Yes, I’m tired [se ríe]. I have had a good life. I have many interests and I have been lucky enough to develop many of them. Just being an actress allows you to explore so many more lives.
He has just published his second novel, The Quickeningwhose slogan is “The future is female”, do you think so?
I think there is room for everyone. The book is a dystopian thriller that explores and rejects extreme ideas. It focuses on a group of women who turn the UK into a rather dark political matriarchy. I should have turned it in two years ago, but I’m a bit of a slow, professional procrastinator. It occurred to me with Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency, although it has evolved a lot from that.
Do you feel more comfortable as a writer than as an actress?
I do not know. Since I like to do many different things, I don’t set goals or labels for myself, I prefer to see where I can go. I love acting. Do Pistol It’s been a renaissance as an actress, I’ve fallen in love with acting again and I owe it to Danny Boyle. But I also love writing and I’m already working on my third novel, which is about sex robots.
When you started as an actress you had a list of tasks or dreams, how is that list today?
I had it? I’ve forgotten all my dreams [risas], but I guess it’s not so bad to forget and keep setting new goals and new dreams all the time. as has happened with Pistol. Before, I would never have been given a role like Vivienne Westwood, but now I feel like I’m maturing as an actress and as a woman, that I’m no longer seen as the naive girl or the typical middle-class English girl. No, I’m Vivienne Westwood. [dice con orgullo], a living icon, had never played a real woman. We have created a character, it is not an imitation, the process has been fascinating and different.
You say that it is not a character that you would normally have been given, was it difficult for you to get it?
Well I met Danny [Boyle] 10 years ago for another role, I got to that casting and as I sat down, he told me that the character was not for me. A decade later I saw him on Zoom, I read for Vivienne and she gave it to me right away.
How hard that he told her no like that. How do you deal with rejection, so common in your profession?
It sounds hard to hear, but then I appreciated his honesty, relaxed, and looked forward to working with him another time. It happens a lot when you’re an actress, of course, but you try not to take it personally. Every time they say no, you take it as best you can, you tell yourself that it’s a matter of luck or that the next role will come out and you continue on because it’s still a wonderful job.
For many years, while you were married to Elon Musk, you were more famous for your personal life than for your work, how did that interfere with your career?
It’s true that I made a big break in my acting career after working a lot between the ages of 18 and 22, and really, I just got back to 100 percent quite recently. We were together for a long time and while we were married I focused on that life and didn’t work because I had stepchildren and other commitments. We tried to maintain family privacy as much as we could. And in that sense, I feel very lucky because I think, in the end, it didn’t have as much of an impact on my career as it could have. The scrutiny from the press or industry could have been much worse.
Do you think that you have already managed to overcome that image, that you be seen beyond that stage?
My life is very different now, I live in England again, I am focused on what I do, being an actress, writing… I have been able to turn the page and I think that no one is interested in me anymore, I live a fairly quiet life. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have applications on my phone and I’m not connected to the internet all day [risas], that helps too. And another curious thing that’s happening now that I’m back is that when I started I used to be the youngest on the set and now I’m among the oldest. That’s why I guess other characters come to me too. on the set of Pistol Thomas and I were called Dad and Mom. Really? How old are we? But I suppose yes, that the other actors were younger and see you like that, even though you still feel like a baby.
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