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Helen McCrory and Sarah J. Edwards discuss that feminine balance when in a male dominated environment and funny women. Helen ad-libs her way through character traits and scenarios given to her by Sarah and the pair break down the art of receiving a compliment. The original story was first published in BLAG Vol. 3 Nø 4 print edition in 2013. Read an exclusive excerpt here
HOW TO TAKE A COMPLIMENT
It’s really interesting to get a different perspective. I wanted to talk to you more about compliments – which we ended up discussing too, about how Sally and I were looking at that comedy sketch where women down themselves if they get a compliment. I’m really curious and I’d love to set a bar as to where is acceptable to agree on a compliment and to accept it without sounding big headed. There’s a line in a film, it’s a goofy film, it’s ‘Mean Girls’ I think, where one of the girls says, ‘You look really pretty,’ and her reply was ‘Thank you,’ and she fired back with ‘Well, you obviously thought it already because you’ve just accepted the compliment.’
[Laughs] “That’s nice.”
I know, exactly!
“Friends like that? Not part of the fucking sisterhood is it?”
"From that moment on, I realised it’s important to accept a compliment because it’s actually very rude to the person who’s giving it to you if you put them down by not receiving it."
“Well, I’m really bad at taking compliments, but I remember and obviously people give you compliments as an actress, they feel they can. They feel they can say to you [laughs] ‘You were wonderful, darling.’ Lay it on with a trowel dot com. I do remember going up to somebody after a show that I’d seen and I’d really enjoyed it. I said, ‘You were fantastic, I really enjoyed the evening,’ and this actor turned around and said, ‘It was a really shit night. It was a really bad night, I just feel really bad about it. I’m sorry I’m not going to go for a drink, I’m just going to go home.’ It really struck a chord with me because I thought, that’s spoilt my fucking evening. Why couldn’t you’ve just said ‘Thank you.’ And from that moment on, I realised it’s important to accept a compliment because it’s actually very rude to the person who’s giving it to you if you put them down by not receiving it. I think you should be gracious. But I think that as Brits particularly, we frown on any sort of self-congratulation. Although I think it’s difficult I would always choose that over the alternative which is the certain American, ‘Yay, I’m great, look at me. I rule the world, I’m on top of the world,’ which I find quite simplistic and child- like actually. But, it’s all to do with self-worth, isn’t it? I played Rosalind in As You Like It and there are scenes which Shakespeare doesn’t write whether it’s a man or a women in the scene and I remember coming to it in rehearsals and thinking, ‘Well, what is she supposed to be, am I supposed to be the bloke or the girl?’ And as soon as you start rehearsing those scenes you know exactly who you’re supposed to be, because in the scenes that I played the man. I was far more judgmental. Far more domineering, far more direct, far more... go into a scene, see a problem, try and solve the problem. Rather than the scenes that he writes as a woman, [where] you’re much more flexible, much more yielding, you put yourself in a listening position and even if you do solve a problem, you [laughs] make somebody else think they did it. It was really interesting.”
“It was much more relaxing than some of the scenes being a man, because it was so much simpler. The want was so much simpler and the action was very cleanly executed.”
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