Aisling Loftus has one of the key roles in the BBC’s lavish period drama War and Peace as Sonya, she’s no stranger to costume drama having played Agnes Towler in ITV period piece Mr Selfridge for three years. In a recent interview with The Scotsman Aisling talks about playing a character very much of her time and what she’s got lined up next.
On playing Sonya: “I don’t think a character like her would be written in a modern piece. She’s very much of that time in Russia. She’s based on Tolstoy’s aunt who never married and was very much devoted to his family and a bit subservient. Sonya’s the poor relative, described as nice and good, and that’s difficult to play. You think, nice, yes, but what else? I don’t play her as insipid or limp.”
“Sonya spends the entire thing in love with her second cousin, Nikolai, living with him and his family. She’s doing it because she believes that one day she will have her happy ending. You have to just play it moment for moment because if you foreshadow something and imbue it with a fatalistic sense, it just doesn’t work.”
And on reading the half a million words of the Tolstoy novel. “I loved reading it. It sounds academic, worthy, but it really isn’t. It centres around our emotional conflict and torment, like most good literature. I thought it was going to be really dry and something that wouldn’t connect with me, but I really loved it,”
Coming up next for Loftus is more period stuff with the highly anticipated movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, she plays Charlotte Lucas married to Matt Smith’s character. “Charlotte sadly has no dealings directly with zombies, but I love Jane Austen and it was fun to do.”
She also has a harrowing role in Irish film Property of the State in which she plays a woman who discovers her brother is a murderer “obviously it’s a horrific thing and the idea of the film is not trying to excuse what he did but to wrestle with the thought, how can you morally continue to love someone who’s done something awful? It’s making sense of what had been a bombastic, tabloid story. Anne Marie is vilified for providing testimony for his mental health and how he had suffered.”
War and Peace continues on BBC One Sunday nights at 9.00pm.