Interview: Sophie Melville On BBC's The Way & Cowbois At The RSC
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Interview: Sophie Melville On BBC’s The Way & Cowbois At The RSC

The Way is streaming now on BBC iPlayer

Looking for a new show to stream on BBC iPlayer? Try The Way, a brand new, devilishly funny three-part drama following the Driscolls, an ordinary family forced to escape the country following a civil uprising. We sat down with Sophie Melville – who stars as Thea, daughter in the Driscoll family – to get the inside scoop.

Interview: Sophie Melville On Starring In The Way, BBC

Sophie Melville

© The Other Richard; Hair & Make Up, Sam Cooper.

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

Hello, it’s going very well thank you, I have had some time off after finishing Cowbois in Stratford Upon Avon, so I have been in Wales spending most of my days down the beach and in Hot Pod Yoga, which are two of my most favourite things.

You’re about to star in new BBC drama The Way – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show?

It is about the Driscolls an ordinary family from Port Talbot who get caught up in an extraordinary chain of events. There are riots in the town that escalate into a civil uprising forcing the Driscolls to leave to find safety.

How would you describe your character?

I play Thea who is the daughter of the family. She is a natural leader, fierce and loyal. She is a sergeant of the South Wales police force, but she sometimes struggles to separate work and life which causes friction amongst the family.

What was it like playing her?

I had the most incredible time, I feel so lucky to have played that part because she is force to be reckoned with. I got to do a lot of driving and action scenes which I really love. Thea is also very blunt and ferocious so the scenes were great fun to play.

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

We did some really helpful prep work with Michael prior to shooting, we did a lot of backstory work on our characters and their relationships and some improvisations to help us build the family dynamic.

Any funny stories from rehearsals or filming?

We were filming on beach in Barry on one of the hottest days of the year and the beach was full of people sunbathing and having a lovely time and we were fully dressed with coats on. It was roasting. We were trying to film some really emotional scenes and people on stand up paddle boards kept drifting into shot. It was very funny.

What is the cast dynamic?

We instantly felt like a family, which was so helpful and therefore everyone that came in was sucked into our dynamic. Every day I was pinching myself that I was getting to work with such extraordinary people who I loved.

Who was your fave person to work with?

Callum and I are really naughty together we feel like brother and sister in real life so that was so much fun. Mali is so protective and generous so I felt really held working with her and Steffan properly interrogates the work so I learned a lot from him.

Sophie as Thea Driscoll in The Way

Sophie as Thea Driscoll in The Way. © BBC/Red Seam/Sanne Gault

You have recently been working on the RSC’s Cowbois. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Cowbois is about a sleepy, repressed town in the wild west that gets a visit from a sexy trans masculine bandit that inspires a gender revolution. It is a celebration of queer joy with a predominately queer and trans cast. I am very proud to have been a part of it.

Any standout moments from rehearsals or standout performances?

We had a gun fight, children and water on stage so there was many a faux pas which resulted in a lot of laughter including myself and Vinnie Heaven falling flat on our faces.

You’re perhaps best known for starring in Iphigenia in Splott’s revival last year. But what has been your favourite project to date?

Well, I have mostly done theatre for the last decade so I would normally say Iphigenia, but The Way has really changed how I feel. It was my biggest screen job, so I really got to immerse myself in it and I never wanted it to end. The cast and the crew were the best, and I loved them all.

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

Emma Pallant is one of the most generous people I have ever been on stage with. She plays Sally-Ann in Cowbois and she is exceptional. Also, Finty Williams is an actual Saint.

Which co-star did you learn the most from?

Steffan Rhodri taught me so much about taking up space and taking your time. He questions everything and is really detailed in his work.

What’s your dream role?

The dream is a role I need to be in top physical shape for. I’d love to train and fight in prep for a character. Come on, universe.

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

I am obsessed with Greek tragedy, I think they are the best stories. I also love contemporary work written by working class and/or queer writers.

Do you get to spend much time at home?

It tends to be either loads of time or none at all.

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?

I am split between London and Wales, so I get the best of both worlds. I am from Swansea so I need to see the sea as much as possible, but also I love how vibrant London is. I need both, I think.

What’s your interior design style?

I guess it is quite Scandinavian meets boho. Lots of plants, lots of crystals, some lovely rugs but also quite simple.

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

It is basically impossible to plan when you are an actor so sometimes balance goes out the window in that sense. I am really dependent on exercise to keep me grounded, if I can exercise most mornings I feel pretty balanced.

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

For me growing up working class, I didn’t really dream of a career because one didn’t really feel achievable. I therefore didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was guided by a brilliant woman called Viv Buckley to try acting, I did and here we are.

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

To dream big.

How can we all live a little bit better?

Be kind and practise gratitude.

Sophie Melville

© The Other Richard; Hair & Make Up, Sam Cooper.

Sophie Melville Recommends…

I’m currently watching… Men Up

What I’m reading… Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… TIME

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Pren ar y Bryn

Favourite film of all time… Fishtank by Andrea Arnold

Favourite song of all time… Big Love by Fleetwood Mac

Band/singer I always have on repeat… Stevie Wonder

My ultimate cultural recommendation… All the Welsh bilingual dramas. They are brilliant.

Cultural guilty pleasure… The Great British Bake Off.

WATCH

Sophie Melville stars in The Way, available in full on BBC iPlayer from 6am on Monday 19 February. The Way airs at 9pm on Monday 19 February on BBC One, with episodes airing weekly.