Reign’s Anna Popplewell Talks Twitter, Kate Middleton, and Getting to Play the Bad Girl
You may remember Anna Popplewell from the Narnia movies, but now she’s back on the Hollywood scene as Lola, Reign’s bright-eyed lady-in-waiting who gets her heart broken after her boyfriend gets beheaded. Luckily, she explains, her plot just gets more complicated though, including some Gossip Girl-y twists and Kate-worthy fashion.
Reign gets pretty scandalous pretty quick—there was even a masturbation scene in the pilot. How would you describe the show for people who haven’t tuned in yet?
I call it “fantasy history.” It’s a bit like fan fiction—you take characters that you know and are interested in and you put them in what-if situations. It weaves in and out of history, but it’s not aiming to be accurate. It’s not a BBC establishment. And it has a definite modern twist—we use mix in modern clothes [from stores like Madewell] and modern music. And the characters are modern enough to still be relatable. With Mary and her ladies-in-waiting, we’re trying to create the intimacy you would see between girls in a dorm room. There’s the drama of the French court, but the sort of compelling human interaction you’d see on Gossip Girl. That’s the idea.
And let’s talk about your character, Lola, one of Mary’s ladies-in-waiting. Your boyfriend gets beheaded in the premiere!
Yes, my Scottish beau gets caught up in a French plot in the first episode. It’s very sad—poor Lola! All of the ladies are coming into their own at court, but it’s a shock for them. It’s a much darker world than they were prepared for. It’s lonely for them at first. Lola stars out romantic and idealistic and gets burned pretty early on. Some of those bubbles got burst. She’s less idealistic but still fun and dull of feeling—she’s a more emotional than character than I’ve ever played before.
Does Lola go wild?
Oh, I think everyone’s going to get wild on this show. It’s just a matter of time.
With the girls and the cute boys and all the royal paraphernalia, I’m sure people would love to see Instagram shots from that set.
I’m not doing that. I’m nervous of Twitter! I think it’s an amazing tool for news, and I can see the benefits of it—people being able to make connections with each other who might not otherwise know each other. You get such a wide spectrum of opinions. But I also think it’s dangerous. When you hear so much about people, I think it’s hard to be mysterious. You don’t want to put too much of your soul on the internet. I like to send postcards; I’m a bit of a granny about these things.
You’ve got a lot of girls on set—do things ever get dramatic?
They’re really lovely! I was just talking about this the other day. I think it’s really awful that the conclusion people come to when they hear that there are a lot of girls working together is, “Oh, that’s probably really catty!” It’s terrible. Of course, I thought that too, but isn’t that terrible that that’s what we automatically think? Everyone moved for this job, and so you’re kind of thrown into this satellite family with people. And it is intense, because you’ve working together all day and hang out with them so much. But it’s a really good dynamic, a really good mix of people. So whenever anyone asks, I love to say, “No!” They’re brilliant.
When it comes to the costumes, do you guys look to Duchess Kate at all for style cues?
[Getting into costume] is always an excuse to look up as many Kate Middleton pictures as possible! There is this modern obsession with royals, isn’t there? I was in California at the time of the royal wedding, and I just remember everyone in Los Angeles being obsessed with the royal wedding. One of the nice things though that I do forget about because I think modern Brits are often so dismissive of the monarchy, is how extraordinary the pageantry is. There’s so much dedication. There’s something really beautiful about that.