How did you navigate the trust that you had to have with Eddie Marsan, who plays your husband?
Paddy knew that Eddie and I had worked together. He knows Eddie well. Eddie is a consummate professional, he's a lovely man. Paddy said you don't want a method actor anywhere near this film. I need to feel safe, and Paddy always made all of us feel very safe. But we were acting. We were all aware that it was pretend. And Eddie is a wonderful actor. When he turns it on, he's so genuinely terrifying that you don't have to act. I was just reacting and that was fine. We were all very supportive of each other.
Weirdly -- it's probably hard to imagine after watching the film -- it was the most enjoyable time I've ever had on any set. Paddy had the gift of picking people who would get on and support each other. The days were pretty short. He only ever did four takes, tops. At the end of each day we'd go to the bar and have a good laugh.
Peter Mullan is particularly brilliant at being able to have everybody in stitches telling funny stories, and then go straight into an emotional scene. I was not quite as cool as him. I stayed a little bit grumpy in my head before the scene.
I'm guessing you did something light to lift your spirits after wrapping?
Yes. Straight after I went on to "Rev.," a comedy show in the UK. I did that and then I did "Iron Lady." So yeah, it's all quite nice. But we all stayed in touch and have remained really good friends.
I had no idea you were in "The Iron Lady" until the credits rolled. Those makeup folks deserved their Oscar win. I know this sounds mundane, but how was it working opposite lady Meryl?
I wish I could say something really controversial, but she's just the loveliest woman I have ever met. She's so generous. There's no vanity, no ego at all, just really lovely. She surpassed all my hopes. Actors don't have to be rotten at anybody to be good at their jobs, and she was just wonderful.
Now in the upcoming "Hyde Park on Hudson" you play Queen Elizabeth...
Yes! I can't wait to see that one. They're screening it soon for cast and crew. That was a lovely experience.
You're following in the footsteps Helena Bonham Carter who recently took on the icon. What can we expect of your take on the Queen?
Ooh, I don't know. Helena Bonham Carter was breathtakingly wonderful in "The King's Speech." I couldn't watch it before doing the film. I didn't want it to influence me. There was very little recording of her voice -- we know her as the Queen Mother -- so thankfully I could get away with murder a bit.
Are you set to reunite with Paddy anytime soon?
I have no idea about his next one, but I'm really hopeful that we will do something together soon. I've never enjoyed working with anyone as much as I've enjoyed working with him. I always tell him that I'd be happy making tea on his next film.