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Marriage | Interview with Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Jamie)

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Hi Henry, tell us about your character, Jamie.

Jamie is, on one level, a high-achieving alpha go-getter, but on every other level he’s a hollow man. He’s a sad clown who fills his life full of distractions, sugar and calories – as I’ve been discovering in the making of this TV show as I have been eating in almost every scene!

He’s in charge of a firm of solicitors which he inherited from his father, who is a looming figure in this story, although we never see him. Emma works there with him, and it is that working environment that you see – mainly through the eyes of people who work there and the confines of that universe. Jamie thinks he’s a big deal and that people look up to him, and he manipulates the status quo. As we go through our story we come to realise that there are a great number of shortcuts, and this is all a pretence…

How is Jamie different from Ian?

You have in the story, this mirroring of the two versions of a man. With Ian, you have a believable relationship, beautiful but with complexities. Jamie is the antidote to that on a superficial level. He is quick-witted, fancies himself, and feels he has this dynamic energy that’s a million miles away from eating baked beans on toast on the sofa. Is his life any richer for that? We’ll find out!

What has it been like working with Stefan?

I’ve found it an amazing creative experience working with Stefan, as I’ve been a huge fan of his for so long. The forensic knowledge he has of his characters and their world means that the notes he gives you are unlike anything else you will receive as an actor. It’s such a delight. I’m dealing in some dark arts with some unpleasant source material for Jamie but I have relished every second. Sometimes he will come up to me on the side of the set wondering if I’ve thought about doing something another way, and I know he’s right.

What was the process of working with Stefan?

We were luckily enough to rehearse, so we had a bit of a headstart which was nice. When I auditioned for the role, he kindly wrote to me and told me what he liked about what I was doing, which is quite unusual, because normally when you send auditions it’s just sending something off into the void. This tragic bravado I was cooking up was the skeleton we were holding on to and we started from a good place of knowing what we thought we wanted to achieve – but we were constantly tweaking to find something that could be charming and appealing, and then find something else that is totally and brutally gutless.

Tell us about the conference. 

The conference is where the show has been leading to, but in many ways it’s just a conference. It’s the most unglamorous thing in the world and Jamie spends a lot of time pretending he is too cool for it and has no interest, but also that it is sexy and that he is a big deal there.

For Emma, it’s tied in with her ambitions and another level of her career hopes, and that Jamie has chosen her and only her. In name and spirit it’s a promotion to be taken to the conference as his right-hand person. Of course, from Ian’s point of view, this is a real crack in their long held and very real marriage. It is amazing to have a conference as the central set of a piece of drama, rather than a plane crash, car crash or big explosion. But only Stefan can do that and that’s why it’s brilliant. The conference is the showdown!

Tell us about Marriage in a few sentences?

Marriage is an incredibly funny tragedy and an incredibly believable relationship with some of the most truthful writing I’ve ever read. Everyone, never more than in the 21st century, has access to the idea that they might be missing something; another world on the other side of the door that might be sexier or more exciting than the world you are currently living in. But with this story it’s based in a suburban setting that could be anywhere really, in any part of the world, and you see that longing paranoia and we explore it, basically.

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