Interview: Charity Wakefield On Season 3 Of The Great

By Tessa Dunthorne

1 year ago

The actor hints that we're going to see a lot more of Georgina...

Actor Charity Wakefield is coy about season 3 of The Great, but tells us that we’re in for a gut-wrenching watch – oh, and a lot more of Georgina.

Loved The Great seasons one and two? If you’re a fan of Tony McNamara’s satirical take on Catherine the Great’s rise to power in Russia, you’ll be delighted to know it’s not long before we see the return of the series to our living room screens. We sat down to find out more with Charity Wakefield (who plays the wily Georgina), and pick her brains about what’s coming for this season ahead.

When Is The Great Season 3 Set To Air In The UK?

American fans have already seen the return of The Great season three – as of 12 May. For Brits waiting to catch the latest installation on this rewrite of history, though, The Great season 3 will air in the UK on 14 July, only on Lionsgate+.

What Do We Know About The Great Season 3 So Far?

The US fans already have a lot of the details, but we won’t provide any spoilers here (not least, we don’t want any!). According to Town And Country magazine and the official synopsis, we’ll see Catherine (Elle Fanning) and Peter (Nicholas Hoult) try to work out some of their relationship problems after Catherine’s attempt on Peter’s life. Marital bliss? Perhaps not. We will also watch Catherine the Great’s international influence grow, as she begins to make a name for herself beyond the borders of Russia.

Interview: Charity Wakefield On Season 3 Of The Great – And Everything Else That’s Coming Up For Her

Charity Wakefield in rainbow striped dress

Can you tell us anything about Season 3 of The Great…? 

It’s going to be quite a gut wrenching season for many, and we see Catherine put through the largest emotional test of her life. It really asks whether she has the resilience and trust in herself to fight through and continue in this leadership role, whilst her personal life is falling apart. 

 Can we expect to see a lot of Georgina?

 I can’t say too much, but yes.

Were you surprised by any of this series?

I was, it takes an unexpected turn for the show, and my character is forced to work quite hard to exist in the world [after the turn]. I am always surprised at how the brilliant writing sews together the darkest of comedy with sweet sadness, and how it charts a pretty grotesque world with such dexterity and wit.

What was it like filming this coming series? 

A lot of fun. We know each other so well now, and our characters too, so it’s just a joy to play scenes together. To plunge deeper into old relationships – or have fun with new characters.

Different from previous series?

Yes, but I can’t say why…

Where did you film / was it all very jet set? 

Not at all, we film mostly in London, which is great. There is a small part that we film in Italy, so we always hugely look forward to that. The pizza is unbelievable there! 

Any funny stories from set?

I had to film a scene in a bath, and they put emollient in the water to make it cloudy, but it also made it very, very slippy and seemingly floaty, so I had to be half weighed down by bean bags, which would regularly emit small suspicious looking air bubbles during the scenes…

Any pressure in filming an ‘adjacent to the truth’ story like that of Catherine the Great? 

Tony McNamara (the creator and show runner) is amazing at finding the bits of the true story that are wild, fascinating, relevant, quirky, astounding etc; and building stories around them. A lot of the more extraordinary stuff is in fact real (rollercoasters, variolation, Pugachev, all based on true history) while yes, lots of the characters have been changed or imagined, including mine, Georgina. However, that gives us huge freedoms in our work, and allows us to tell stories in a way that is relatable today. 

Did you know much about the period before going in? What was your process for bringing your character and the history to life?

I did [know a bit about the period before going in]. We all researched, and so had a lot of knowledge about the etiquette of the period – but we’re asked to throw it all away when we shoot and go with the more unusual styles and imagined worlds on the page.

We all know for example how to do formal dances of the time, but our amazing choreographer Polly Bennet has total freedom to make artistic and comedic choices with the dance, and with her we have created a very particular style for our court. It lends itself to the writing to have surreal moments, because often Tony creates scenes that are felt and expressed by whoever’s perspective we are with at the time, and that perspective is often skewed or warped depending on characters’ sensitivities. I love this aspect of our show.

Are you working on anything else at the moment? What’s next? 

I’ve been working on a film called Scoop for Netflix, playing Princess Beatrice. I’ve also co-executive produced a documentary film about female conductors called MAESTRA, directed by Maggie Contreras, which I’m delighted to say had just been officially selected by Tribeca Film Festival in New York. We are so excited for people to see our film, and delve into the lives and stories of five brilliant female conductors entering a world class conducting competition in Paris. It examines the industry, and the gender conversation within it.

Interestingly for me, especially with The Great Season 3 coming up, it’s all been about women taking leadership roles formerly owned by men, and how they carve their own way forward. Watch this space! 

Quick Fire

I’m tuning into… Succession (of course) and Gardeners’ World

What I’m reading… Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo.

The last thing I watched was… A YouTube film about bonsai (I am growing trees!).

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Edinburgh theatre festival in the summer.

Favourite painting… Picasso – anything from the blue and rose periods.

Favourite film of all time… Festen. 

Band/singer I always have on repeat… Ólafur Arnalds. 

My ultimate cultural recommendation… A walking tour with Jonny Fielding (@bowlofchalk). He offers a walk around east London, looking at street art… There are these tiny portraits in chewing gum on the streets and so much more. He is a fountain of knowledge.

Cultural guilty pleasure… Trying EVERYTHING before you buy at Borough Market in London Bridge. Also, browsing Rellik vintage in W10.

The Great season 3 streams on Lionsgate+ from 14 July.