Gwyneth Keyworth on To Kill a Mockingbird
The stakes were high for Aaron Sorkin’s stage version of Harper Lee’s 1960 masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, which debuted at Gielgud Theatre last week. Yet the play has been met with rave reviews across the board. Sorkin breathes new life into one of the most famous novels of all time – which, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement, has gained fresh significance. Below we chat to one of its stars, Gwyneth Keyworth, who plays Scout Finch alongside Rafe Spall as Atticus. Welsh-born Gwyneth has starred in a range of TV shows, from Game of Thrones to The Crown, alongside stage performances including Raising Martha at Park Theatre and As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Gwyneth Keyworth on To Kill a Mockingbird
What can you tell us about To Kill a Mockingbird?
Our production is a reimagining of Harper Lee’s classic by Aaron Sorkin. I’m really excited to share it and encourage a contemporary audience to engage with the incredibly relevant themes around race and queer identity. These themes have always been in the novel, so it’s great that we can really examine them in a modern context.
Any funny stories from rehearsals?
On day one, Aaron Sorkin walked in and we were doing the table read. I was so nervous as I saw him walking towards me, that I stood up awkwardly to greet him, but it turned out that he was just putting his chewing gum in the bin. He saw me stand up and greeted me anyway to save me the embarrassment, but everyone had already noticed!
Favourite person you’ve worked with on To Kill a Mockingbird?
Not fair – I can’t pick one.
Favourite role to date and why?
This role. It has been magical playing Scout, but maybe I’ll change my mind in eight months time.
Role you’d cut your right arm off to get?
There are so many out there and plenty I’m sure that I have never even thought of. To be honest, it sounds cliché but I would really love to play Juliet. She is my favourite Shakespearean character and is such a smart woman.
What demands do you have during rehearsals?
I would demand that David Moorst bake for me every night and bring me whatever he makes each morning.
What qualities do you think have made you successful?
I’m not good at anything else. This is all I have – there’s no back up plan.
Film you think everyone in the world should see?
Hercules – every song is just banger after banger.
What’s your relationship with social media like?
Sporadic. I pop on and off all the time. I don’t understand Twitter at all, but sometimes I get hooked on Instagram and TikTok.
What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
A vampire. Mona the Vampire was my hero. I used to go bat hunting all the time – and it wasn’t Twilight-sexy, it was horrific.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
You don’t suit a middle parting. And don’t be so hard on yourself.
Three books you’d take to a desert island and why?
Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn without a doubt; In Heaven The Onions Make You Laugh which is a comedic poetry book by Rob Auton, mostly because my copy has a beautiful inscription from a close friend; and I’m currently reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, so I would probably take that so I can finish it.
The most challenging moment of your life?
I had been working as an actor for a couple of years and decided that I wanted to go to drama school as I was very keen to have the training, but a lot of people thought it was a silly idea and didn’t understand. So that was difficult but finding the funds to go was particularly challenging.
How can we all live a little bit better?
Don’t be so hard on yourself – but everyone could listen more.
What’s your interior design style?
What is your current beauty regime?
At the moment, I’m trying to keep it simple. In the mornings I just use a basic moisturiser. In the evening, I use some Skin + Me products which I saw on Instagram. I am very targeted by Instagram adverts.
What are your indulgences?
Always chocolate. Any form or type – I love it all. But I can be partial to cheesy film and a soft weep.
What would your best friend say about you?
Getting me to arrive on time is challenging, and that I try not to take myself too seriously.
How do you relax?
I like drawing a lot. When I’m not working, I go to a lot of art classes. I used to like lino printing, but currently I’m into aquatint etching. And scrolling TikTok.
If we’re coming to your area for a visit, what should we do?
Well, I live near Victoria Park, so go to the park. A local hidden gem would be Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park though – it’s such a beautiful walk.
Are you a rule breaker or a rule taker?
I don’t like being told what to do. I won’t disregard the rules, but I might edit them slightly – much like Scout.
Imagery by Marc Brenner. To Kill a Mockingbird is on at Gielgud Theatre now. gielgudtheatre.co.uk
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