Friday, August 12, 2016


  It has taken a long time but English actresses are at last following their male counterparts into leading roles in American TV series. 

  I talked with two of them at the Four Seasons recently and although their series are very different there are a lot of similarities between Michelle Dockery and Hayley Atwell: Both are 34 years old, both have appeared on the London stage and both are unattached, friendly and down-to-earth.  

Michelle:  Essex girl
   Michelle Dockery, last seen on TV as the prim and proper Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey, has opted for a total change of image in Good Behavior, in which she plays a hard-drinking, drug-abusing petty thief and con artist who vomits, falls down drunk and plays by her own rules.

  It is a lip-smacking role that Essex girl Dockery relishes, with lines such as: "I'm a piece of shit. Why keep fighting it, you know?"
   It came Dockery's way at an ideal time. The final episode of Downton Abbey had come and gone and she was dealing with the tragic loss of her fiancé John Dineen, who died of cancer in December aged 34.

   "For me, acting can help at certain times in your life and it's a release in some sense and it was very fortunate for me that this came along at  the right time," she says.

Hayley: from Ladbroke Grove
  "It wasn't a conscious decision to do something so totally different from Lady Mary but I was completely hooked on the script from the first page and I loved the complexity of the character.

  "She's a joy to play and a real blessing for me."

   And Hayley Atwell, who was brought up in Ladbroke Grove, West London, is on to her second U.S. series having kicked butt as Agent Carter in the Captain America and Avengers movies and in her own TV series, Agent Carter.

   Now, like Dockery, she has a change of pace in the new series Conviction in which she plays the rebellious, party-going daughter of a former President who is blackmailed into taking a job as the head of New York's newly created Conviction Integrity Unit, examining cases in which the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime.

   Although it is shot in the U.S., Hayley still lives in London and commutes to the set.   

  "London has always been my home base," she tells me. "It's where my mother is and when I come to LA, I objectively see what London is and the strengths it has---- the art scene,  the diversity and the wit and the irony and the eccentricity that Londoners are famous for."


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