Henry Ashton On My Lady Jane & A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder

By Olivia Emily

4 weeks ago

This newcomer has two exciting projects on the horizon


Keep your eye on this charismatic newcomer. We sat down with Henry Ashton to delve beneath the skin of his two exciting projects about to arrive on the small screen: My Lady Jane and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder.

Interview: Henry Ashton

Henry Ashton

Photography: Lee Malone
Grooming: Sandra Hahnel

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

Life is great, thank you. 

You have two big projects that we’re excited to talk about. Let’s start with My Lady Jane, which is coming to Prime. Can you give us an elevator pitch for the series?

The series is based on the tragic tale of Lady Jane Grey, the young Tudor noblewoman who was Queen of England for nine days before getting beheaded. But My Lady Jane is a swashbuckling retelling of history, set in an alt-universe of action, history, fantasy, comedy and steamy romance. The whole show is just so much fun! And calls back to those amazing films of the 90s and early 2000s, like The Princess Bride and A Knight’s Tale, in the way that it is unapologetically hilarious, romantic and heart-warming.

What did you know about Lady Jane Grey before getting involved?

Not a huge amount, to be honest. I knew of her very loosely but working on the show opened up a genuine interest her the story. I’m happy at least that we can bring a bit of humour and joy to what is ultimately a very sad, tragic story.

How would you describe your character?

I play Stan Dudley, and on the face of it, he can be seen as an arrogant, petulant and somewhat entitled man. Often in competition with his brother for his father’s attention, although he would never admit to that. But behind it all, is an extra-large heart, a deep sense of loyalty and a desire for love and acceptance. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery, becoming a better person, brother and son… And, eventually, a bit of a hero.

What was it like playing him?

I absolutely loved playing Stan. He wears his heart on his sleeve and allows his emotions to dictate his actions, which freed me up to be very playful, which is always fun! Although, Gemma and Meredith had written such a full and rich character, with a really beautiful arc through the series, that a lot of the hard work was done for me. 

And what was it like playing Rob Brydon’s son?

When I found out Rob was going to play my father, I was both incredibly excited and unbelievably nervous. I thought, ‘how am I supposed to play this comedic part, next to one of the most celebrated comedic actors there is?’ It was intimidating. However, we hit it off the first day on set together. He could not have been more welcoming and generous with his time and energy and we quickly got into a groove on camera. I’ve never seen anyone so good at improvising dialogue, it was honestly such a joy to watch Rob go off-piste during a scene. You never knew what he was going to say, but it was always hilarious.

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

I felt like I had a really good grasp on Stan from the very beginning. But it was actually the costume that really locked him in for me. As soon as I put on that first codpiece, everything made sense, I understood him. That ridiculous thing has an effect on how you move, walk, stand and talk. It also changed how people reacted to me. I could always tell who was new on set because they never knew where to look. That brash, peacocking style is just so Stan and it really helped me find him.

What was the vibe on set?

The vibe was great – it mirrored the show in the way that it was always vibrant, fun and interesting. And for an ensemble cast, we were very lucky to all genuinely get on so well. There were plenty of late nights at old, definitely haunted hotels, telling stories and getting to know each other.

Any standout moments from rehearsals or filming?

There were so many standout moments! But for me, nothing quite topped playing the lute at night, by torch light, in the courtyard of Hampton Court Palace. That was so bizarre and a real ‘how is this my job?’ moment. But it was also very special and not something many people get to do, obviously.

Rob Brydon as Lord Dudley and Henry Ashton as Stan Dudley in My Lady Jane

Rob Brydon as Lord Dudley and Henry Ashton as Stan Dudley in My Lady Jane. © Jonathan Prime/Prime Video

You also have A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder coming up. How would you describe that series?

The series is based off the first of three best-selling books by the amazing Holly Jackson. It follows a schoolgirl named Pip, played by Emma Myers, as she attempts to solve a cold case, in her hometown of Little Kilton, for a school project. It’s full of twists and turns and keeps you on edge the whole way through. If you like true crime, then you’ll love it! 

You play Max – what’s he like?

Max is used to getting his own way. He’s confident, wealthy and charming… At least on the surface. Like a lot of people in Little Kilton, he’s got secrets, but his may be darker than most.

What was it like playing him?

Max was certainly a new challenge for me. I don’t want to give anything away, but there were places I had to go with him that were definitely very uncomfortable. I always want to start from a place of understanding, with any part I play, and this was particularly tricky with playing Max. Despite this though, I really enjoyed the process of discovering a version of him that felt solid and grounded in the world, and I’m very grateful for the challenge. 

What did you do differently to prepare for Good Girl’s Guide versus My Lady?

With My Lady Jane there wasn’t much time to rehearse scenes before shooting, which is very normal. But the freedom we were given on set allowed us to play and try things out, creating such fun and spontaneous moments, which ultimately suited to the vibe of the show better. But with Good Girl’s Guide we were lucky enough to have some time before shooting to properly rehearse, which was such a luxury! This was all thanks to Dolly Wells, who insisted on it. It was so valuable to sit down with Emma and go through Pip and Max’s scenes. They’re key moments in the story and important to get right. It also allowed Emma and I to get to know each other and build chemistry, which I think is so important for Pip and Max’s relationship going forward. Both shows were an incredible experience and I’m grateful for the differences between them.

Standout moments from filming?

The Calamity Party scenes were unbelievable. They really nailed that thrilling, chaotic and slightly sinister atmosphere of an illegal rave. They’ve done such a great job of capturing the essence of the book, but for me, those parties felt as close as they ever got to what was described. I loved it. I’ve still got my Calamity Party wrist band.

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

…Perhaps.

Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past?

I don’t think I can choose just one! As I mentioned before, working with Rob was a highlight for me. Then there’s Emma Myers, who is probably the loveliest person you’ll ever meet and so much fun to work with. I also recently did the short film In The Room, with Kate Dickie, who could not have been more wonderful to work with. So caring and generous with her energy, and a complete professional, I learnt a lot from watching her work.

Which co-star did you learn the most from?

Anna Chancellor. I was lucky enough to share many scenes with her in My Lady Jane and I spent most of the time in constant awe of her. She strikes the perfect balance between playfulness and precision, and just leaps off the screen with the subtlety of her choices. She’s also a lovely person who really cares about other people. There were a few moments of self doubt that I had early on in the process, but she was always there to prop me up with a kind word and some expert advice. I can’t wait to work with her again and learn even more.

What’s your dream role?

I’d love to play Kurt Cobain in a biopic. I’m a big Nirvana fan and find him and his story incredibly compelling.

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

I’ve always loved big war movies like 1917 and Dunkirk, so I’d love a chance to do one of those. Other than that, I’d like to try and bit of everything!

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?

I think I’m still working on that to be honest. I’m always so happy to be busy working on a job, but I think I need to work on enjoying the time in between. But I think that will come with some time and practice.

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

There was a moment, when I was about 12, when I wanted to be a stunt man. I absolutely loved jumping off things, climbing trees and pretending to sword fight. But then I found acting, and it’s honestly the only thing I’ve wanted to do since. I would like to do more of my own stunts though, if they let me!

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

Chill. It’s going to be OK. 

How can we all live a little bit better?

I don’t know… Look nice, smell nice, be nice.

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?

I’m really looking forward to both My Lady Jane and Good Girl’s Guide premieres. It’ll be my first experience, and I do love dressing up. Also, on a personal note, I have eight nieces and nephews, my own little army, and I am very excited for them to see their uncle on the tele, because I have deep desire to be coolest uncle that’s ever been.

Henry Ashton

Photography: Lee Malone
Grooming: Sandra Hahnel

Henry Ashton Recommends…

I’m currently watching… Fallout. I’m a big fan of the game so I’m loving it!

What I’m reading… In between books currently, but the last one I read was The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland. Highly recommend!

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… Baby Reindeer!

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… The Last of Us 2

Favourite film of all time… Lord of the Rings trilogy… Don’t make me choose which one.

Favourite song of all time… A Certain Romance’ by Arctic Monkeys 

Band/singer I always have on repeat… Right now it’s a band called Wunderhorse – they are phenomenal.

My ultimate cultural recommendation… Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

Cultural guilty pleasure… I love a good ghost story.

I’m tuning into…  Otherworld Podcast

Favourite painting… A painting of The Glastonbury Tor by Tim Lee.

WATCH

Catch Henry Ashton in My Lady Jane, premiering on Prime Video June 27, and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, with all episodes on BBC iPlayer from Monday 1 July.