‘Hayley Has Been An Absolute Dream To Play’: Cora Kirk On Your Christmas or Mine 2 – Interview

By Olivia Emily

5 months ago

Your Christmas or Mine 2 launches exclusively on Prime Video from 8 December

Cora Kirk returns to her breakout leading role of Hayley in the sequel to Prime Video’s festive flick Your Christmas Or Mine?, Your Christmas Or Mine 2. She stars opposite Asa Butterfield, the two playing a young, loved-up couple with very different home lives. The first film saw the couple accidentally experience Christmas apart – and with the other’s family. This time, however, everyone is gathering together on a skiing holiday. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out, a lot. We sat down with Cora to hear all about it.

Cora Kirk On Your Christmas Or Mine 2

Cora Kirk

Photographer: Olivia Spencer

Hi Cora, how’s life going at the moment?

Life is going well! I have this saying, ‘Glam today, gone tomorrow’, because one minute it’s fancy hotels and gorgeous outfits, and the next minute it’s back to my day job and being at home with my cats waiting for the next job to come along. In lots of ways, it’s incredibly grounding, as I’m always reminded to stay humble and grateful for these amazing moments and to not take them for granted. So, overall, life is grand – I’m happy, I’m healthy and it’s almost Christmas!

You’re about to appear in the sequel to Prime’s festive flick, Your Christmas or Mine?. What can we expect?

We are back with Hayley & James – it’s one year on, we’re in Austria and we’ve swapped Christmas again. Can their relationship survive another turbulent family Christmas, or has their future together gone off-piste?!

James’ father has invited the Taylors to spend Christmas in a luxury ski resort in the Austrian Alps, so they can meet his new American girlfriend (played by the lovely Jane Krakowski). However, Hayley’s dad Geoff (the inimitable Danny Mays) insisted on handling his family’s side of the booking, and something clearly got lost in translation. After a mix-up with transport at the airport, the two tribes end up at each other’s accommodations, on different sides of a valley and opposite ends of the TripAdvisor ratings scale. Expect more mayhem with the Taylor and Hughes families, chaotic miscommunication, and new and exciting characters that could turn Hayley’s world upside-down. A return of our fabulous original ensemble from YCOM 1, with some juicy new additions (Jane Krakowski, Rhea Norwood, and Klaus the Goat).

You play Hayley – how would you describe her? What is it like playing her? How did it feel to return to the role?

I think I described it perfectly earlier today – if she was a character from Love Actually, she’d love to be Emma Thompson, but really she’s Rowan Atkinson. Playing her is so great – when I was first auditioning, I remember I asked a very close friend of mine to help me prep, which involved raiding her wardrobe and basically asking her to dress me in as colourful an ensemble as possible (my wardrobe is quite neutral, and I felt Hayley really needed to be dressed in as much colour as possible). I love how Hayley encourages me to be more vivacious and curious, so returning was great.

How did you get into character/prepare for the role?

My top three character preparations are a character playlist, a character fragrance, and the collaboration with the costume department. Music allows me to plot through the film scene by scene and discover a song that evokes how Hayley is feeling moment to moment. Hayley has had a specific perfume since the first film, and it evolved slightly this time as she’s a year older, but I still stuck to similar notes. I’m a massive perfume fan myself so it’s just a quick and easy way into Hayley’s shoes. And costume: I think I can safely say most actors love the experience of getting into their characters costume (literally stepping into their shoes). I collaborated closely with our costume designer, Jessie Fell, and we created Hayley’s wardrobe with inspiration from the first film – for example, the mustard yellow coat now translated into Hayley’s ski suit, as well as discovering where she is a year on. I got to have loads of input, as Jessie sent me pages and pages of a fantastic Hayley-inspired mood board, and we just spent half a day rooting through rails of amazing vintage clothing. I basically chose what 22-year-old Cora would’ve worn.

Any funny stories from rehearsals or filming?

There was one evening in the hotel we were staying in – we were lucky enough to live on-location in the hotel that appears in the film – where everyone met for drinks the day before our day off, and what started as a quiet, polite get-together turned into a raucous dance-rave, because I commandeered the music and became unofficial DJ of the evening. Peach schnapps, Beyonce on repeat and a very overtired cast and crew equals a pretty spectacular evening. We were so lucky to be able to bond as a cast and crew during those three weeks of living together in Austria, that the chemistry on-camera and off feels so genuine, because we really did live like a family.

What is the cast dynamic like?

I’m so lucky to be able to truthfully admit we are like one big family (minus the arguing). Angela [Griffin] and Danny are incredibly inspirational role models for me and live up to that by dishing out the best acting and life advice on set. Alex [Jennings] and David [Bradley] are acting titans so watching them every day was a masterclass, and being reunited with Asa [Butterfield], our director Jim [O’Hanlon], our writer Tom [Parry] and the whole team was just a dream.

Your Christmas or Mine 2

Asa Butterfield as James, Cora Kirk as Hayley © The Story Collective/Amazon Studios

You’ve also starred in some theatre productions, but what has been your favourite project to date?

Great question – I’d say I’m most grateful to the wonderful director Sally Cookson for casting me as Lucy in the original production of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe years ago; it was my first professional large-scale theatre job and she embedded into me an incredible work ethic and that a cohesive ensemble really is so important when creating and improvising. But my most challenging and a firm favourite job to date would be playing in Yusra Warsama’s new production of Of All the Beautiful Things in the World at HOME Manchester earlier this year – the text was so amazing to get my teeth stuck into and working with an all-female, brown cast was so empowering, as well as Yusra being a powerhouse director. Shoutout to Sara Abanur, who had her theatre debut in that play, and smashed it.

Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)

I’m so lucky to say I’ve got lots of stuff in the pipeline, but alongside that I’d really love to expand into something grittier, something that I can stick my teeth into and really step outside myself for the role. Let’s just say if the production team from The White Lotus came calling, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes.

What’s your dream role?

As a debut lead role, Hayley has been an absolute dream to play – she’s superbly written and I’ve had such freedom to play; it’s been a joy. But if I was going to dream bigger, I’d love to be able to do more independent film roles. One of my career role models is Olivia Cooke (we’re both Oldham girls) and I love how she’s gone from super independent indie films to leading House of the Dragon. So, I’d say my dream career (as opposed to role) would be being able to jump from gripping TV dramas (think Misfits on Channel 4) to indie roles to blockbuster action to short films to theatre back up North (Royal Exchange being one of my dream places to work) – and repeat until I die.

Cora Kirk

Photographer: Olivia Spencer

What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?

I’m a huge fan of crime drama – I binged watched Blue Lights when it came out on the BBC, and of course Happy Valley and Line of Duty are up there in my top five favourite TV shows. If a genre was ‘northern-gritty-but-still-funny-and-edgy’, I’d say that’s what I’d love to do more of. Also, if Emerald Fennell was a genre, where can I sign up to work with her?

The movie is all about Christmas of course – how will you be spending the festive season this year?

I’ll be spending my first Christmas abroad, with family in Ireland. I’ve never had a pint of Guinness, so I’m looking forward to marking the moment with loved ones.

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?

I love waking up and sipping on a homemade mimosa, bunging on a Christmas film (probably The Grinch for the tenth time) and eating chocolate in anticipation of Christmas dinner. Not very original but if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?

What is your top Christmas recommendation?

Get together with a friend or loved one. Find a lovely local Christmas market and scout out a Bailey’s hot chocolate (I’d get extra whipped cream!). After a lovely wintery walk, snuggle down under a duvet on the sofa with a Christmas film (maybe Your Christmas or Mine 2, and if you haven’t seen Your Christmas or Mine?, make an afternoon of it and watch both), festive snacks and a glass of fizz.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

My parents always tried to sway me away from getting into the acting industry as they both worked in theatre for many years. But, despite their best efforts, they always took me to work with them when I was younger, so acting was always the way I was going to go, because I was surrounded by the arts and creativity for so long.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Dye your hair, go on that holiday, get your nose pierced, go to the party – life experience is so vital to a colourful and healthy outlook, and overall can inform choices one makes within their acting process, so HAVE MORE FUN 15-YEAR-OLD CORA.

Cora Kirk

Photographer: Olivia Spencer

Quick Fire

I’m currently watching… The Last of Us (again) on HBO, because my housemate hasn’t seen it and she doesn’t want to watch it alone.

What I’m reading… 8 Rules of Love by Jay Shetty

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… Blue Lights on the BBC – incredible acting and heart wrenching storylines.

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… 2024! I love the feeling of beginning a new year and not knowing what it’ll bring.

Favourite film of all time… Bridesmaids

Bonus: Favourite Christmas film… The Grinch

Favourite song of all time…

  • For dancing: ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
  • For chilling: anything Chet Baker or Nina Simone
  • For everyday: James Blake and Sampha are really killing it right now.

Bonus: Favourite Christmas song… ‘Sleigh Ride’, the version by Ella Fitzgerald

Band/singer I always have on repeat… Daði Freyr, Icelandic funky pop, he’s SO GOOD!

My ultimate cultural recommendation… The permanent collection at Tate Modern never fails to delight.

Cultural guilty pleasure… Going to an obscenely expensive cinema, splurging on snacks and snuggling down to a film – I’m still yet to watch Saltburn, so that’s on my list!

What’s next for me is… Seeing what 2024 brings, expanding my career across the pond hopefully, continuing to work on incredible jobs alongside incredible creatives, and maybe installing a new kitchen?


Cora Kirk stars in Your Christmas or Mine 2, launching exclusively on Prime Video from 8 December 2023. amazon.co.uk