The English - Meet the cast and creatives behind Hugo Blick's epic chase Western - Media Centre


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Via:  kavika  •  3 weeks ago  •  19 comments

By:   Emily Blunt

The English - Meet the cast and creatives behind Hugo Blick's epic chase Western - Media Centre
Aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) and Pawnee ex-cavalry scout, Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), come together in 1890 mid-America to cross a violent landscape built on dreams and blood

With the success of Rutherford Falls, Dark Winds, Prey, and Reservation Dogs where the main charters are Native Americans played by Native Americas the newest series will premier on ''Amazon Prime''. Entitled ''The English'' 

A new type of Western, where Indians are not some caricature from a make-believe time, but one that shows a different look that addresses us as a complex people in a changing world.

A Native man as the love interest of a white English woman!! Whoa we are breaking some new ground here.

This is a trailer from the series.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


  • Cast
  • Creatives
  • Interviews
  • Hugo Blick - Writer/Director
  • Emily Blunt - Cornelia Locke/Executive Producer
  • Chaske Spencer - Eli Whipp
  • Stephen Rea - Sheriff Robert Marshall
  • Valerie Pachner - Martha Myers
  • Rafe Spall - David Melmont
  • Tom Hughes - Thomas Trafford
  • Greg Brenman - Executive Producer
  • Chris Roope - Production Designer
  • Phoebe de Gaye - Costume Designer
  • Lesley Lamont-Fisher - Hair & Make-Up Designer
  • Drama

Published: 1 November 2022 Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) and Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) in The English (Images: Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios)

An epic chase Western, The English takes the core themes of identity and revenge to tell a uniquely compelling parable on race, power and love.

An aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) and a Pawnee ex-cavalry scout, Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), come together in 1890 mid- America to cross a violent landscape built on dreams and blood. Both of them have a clear sense of their destiny but neither is aware that it is rooted in a shared past. They must face increasingly terrifying obstacles that will test them to their cores, physically and psychologically. But as each obstacle is overcome it draws them closer to their ultimate destination, the new town of Hoxem, Wyoming. It is here, after an investigation by the local sheriff Robert Marshall (Stephen Rea) and young widow Martha Myers (Valerie Pachner) into a series of bizarre and macabre unsolved murders, that the full extent of their intertwined history will be truly understood, and they will come face to face with the future they must live.

The English is a 6x50' epic Western led by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place, Sicario) and Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Saga, Banshee) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in the UK, and Prime Video in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, in association with All3Media international. It is produced by the multi-award-winning production company Drama Republic (Doctor Foster, Us), and written and directed by multi-award-winning Hugo Blick (The Honourable Woman, Black Earth Rising, The Shadow Line).



  • Cornelia Locke - Emily Blunt
  • Eli Whipp - Chaske Spencer
  • Sheriff Robert Marshall - Stephen Rea
  • Martha Myers - Valerie Pachner
  • David Melmont - Rafe Spall
  • Thomas Trafford - Tom Hughes
  • Richard M Watts - Ciaran Hinds
  • Sebold Cusk - Toby Jones


  • Writer & Director - Hugo Blick
  • Executive Producer - Greg Brenman, Emily Blunt, Hugo Blick
  • Producer - Colin Wratten
  • Co-Producer - Daniel Toland
  • Director of Photography - Arnau Valls Colomer
  • Costume Designer - Phoebe de Gaye
  • Hair and Make Up Designer - Lesley Lamont-Fisher
  • Production Designer - Chris Roope
  • Composer - Federico Jusid


Hugo Blick - Writer/Director

How would you describe The English to the audience?

The English is set in the American West of 1890, on the cusp of the frontier's closure. It tells the story of an Englishwoman and a Native American man. In very different ways but to equally devastating effect both have been stripped of their identities. United, each reveals strengths the other lacks but together they have a chance to avenge themselves against their loss. So much as it's a quest for reclamation, it's a love story.

What was the kernel of an idea that led you to writing The English?

I was sent to Montana at Eighteen as a stabilizing influence. I lived with a family friend, a retired USAF captain, Olympic Gold Medalist and avid outdoorsman. He taught me how to hunt, shoot, spin a horse - a sort of Will Geer to my Jeremiah Johnson! We also cut wood commercially. Our contracts came from the government to supply those most in need. Sometimes this involved Native people's communities. We made a hunting buddy I called Chief. He wasn't a chief. He called me English. We were easy with this casual racism, but pretty soon I got to see it was a one way street - with all the heavy traffic heading his way. Back then the reservation seemed hard and isolated, particularly in winter. I had never seen such difficulties. Then one day he took off, leaving a couple of bags with us for when he came back. He didn't. Nothing to come back for. I never knew his real name, nor he mine. I regretted that. This was a kernel for The English.

What kind of research went into developing the series?

A lot. Once completed, I sent the scripts to Crystal Echo-Hawk, CEO of IllumiNative, the Native led racial and social justice organisation. She then introduced me to representatives of the Pawnee and Cheyenne Nations each of whom are specialists in the cultural and military history of their respective Nations. The journey taken with IllumiNative and the Pawnee and Cheyenne advisors, has been long, detailed and hugely rewarding.

How do you feel about the Western genre and where does The English take it?

At its best the Western allows us to escape the reality of who we are and how we live today. Something about its huge landscapes, mythic heroes and villains, the epic violence and love they pursue, can speak directly to our souls.

For me the most interesting Westerns tend to explore the themes of personal loss and consequent restoration of justice. Perhaps what's unusual about The English is who it chooses for its heroes, a Native American man and an Englishwoman, and the precise kind of justice they're both looking to restore.

What was it like working with Emily Blunt?

She read the first script and has been with me every step of the way since. What she offered to the consequent scripts and following production has been incalculable. Beyond all that, and above it, is a performance of exquisite delicacy and strength.

What was it like working with Chaske Spencer?

That Chaske managed to inhabit the elevated Western persona of a cinematic hero, historically the preserve of a Wayne or Lancaster, Eastwood or Newman, with all the nuance and dexterity of that inheritance and for him to do so as a Native American playing a Native American, felt pretty groundbreaking to all involved.

The script feels sparse. How did you approach writing this way? Was it different from your usual method?

I had heard I think it was Jimmy Stewart say, "The first clue to a good Western is a slim script!" I took him to heart. These were slim scripts, made even slimmer in the edit. Whenever I could, I honed them down. They started at an hour each, we got them down to fifty minutes. Emily Blunt had a lot to do with this, as did the Amazon team. The last episode is just over an hour but I feel it earns it.

The key to the story's rhythm is in the character of Eli. He speaks to it, how he'd learned not to. The less said, the more an audience can hear what is.

The look of the series is crucial. The wide open spaces, the extraordinary light, even Cornelia's costumes in the opening episode. What was the inspiration for this cinematic style? Any of the great Western directors for example?

It's all about the light, how it falls on landscape and character. Cinematographer Arnau Valls Colomer and I studied the genre carefully, particularly its mid-twentieth century period. On location we scheduled for the late afternoon when the dust was up and the sun low: Back-lit by sun and front-lit by arc light, I found the results impressive, although it could be blinding to the actors. We shot 2.39:1 CinemaScope using a limited selection of Panavision Anamorphic lenses. I didn't want to move the camera, so spent a good deal of the time figuring out where best to place it so we wouldn't have to.

It's pretentious to say I picked this up off studying Kurosawa but so what, I did! And George Stevens. And Eastwood. And Anthony Mann. I want to say John Ford but every time I hit up against "The Searchers" and see Chief Scar played by a blue eyed German - I just know we're in trouble… It's the the same for Audrey Hepburn in John Huston's "The Unforgiven".There's actually quite a bit to admire in the picture, issues of prejudice and intolerance, but then this casting kind of turns that on its head. I loved Martin Ritt's "Hombre" and consider the screenplay by Ravetch and Frank very fine. It was a direct inspiration to "The English" with one key swap out: instead of Paul Newman representing the native experience, we have Chaske Spencer, who actually is. However, "Hombre" remains such a fine picture - plus I've a sneaking suspicion Chaske picked up a few tips from Newman on the soul of a cinematic hero. How did I get here? Oh yes, light and landscape. You have to work with them, bring them into the story - they're as much a character as any found within them.

The score, by Federico Jusid, is both epic and intimate. How did you come to work with him?

I listen to film scores in the car. Obsessively. A few years back I had one of Federico's pictures, the original The Secret in Their Eyes, on a constant loop. So when Iain Cooke, our music supervisor, had the hunch to introduce us, it felt almost uncannily intuitive. We use score for emotional articulation, it's almost the closest thing in the picture to the author's overview. It sits deep inside the story, like the joints to a skeleton, and the body simply won't move without it. Scoring a western is hard! You have to both engage with the genre's expectations whilst delivering a voice that sounds entirely individual and unique. Fede has a deep, formal knowledge of composition but neither is he afraid of the simple, symmetrical right-hand piano tune. In this score I feel he has delivered on both.

Beautifully. The last twenty minutes of the last episode, at the risk of saying it straight, is a world class score. And now with The English I have something else to play in the car!

It's set in the Mid West and filmed in Spain. What were reasons for filming in Spain?

The actual period of the classic cowboy was approximately thirty years, the following hundred and thirty has been almost entirely myth, built as much by our televisions and cinema as by the Chisholm trail itself. The Western lives in our imagination - and it can travel. So when Covid chased us first out of Kansas then Alberta, I was intrigued to look to Spain. As it turned out, we got lucky! I can see, and hear, in every frame just how lucky we were to make this with such an experienced and committed crew whose involvement in the the genre often stretched back through generations. It's interesting that we made a story with colonialism at its heart told from the very kernel of its creation. This meant a lot to all involved.

How did you find the right locations? How much set building was done on location? The Hotel at the start for example. Does it exist?

Because I knew first hand the locations we needed to replicate, I was already aware that Almeria (which has the famous Leone/Eastwood sets) would not work for this Kansas/Wyoming set story. Luckily our location scout took us to a huge beef farm in Avila outside of Madrid. With the grasses, rock formations and horizontal light, it provided a perfect mythic space for this Western.

The designer, Chris Roope, also understands by research and intuition that one structure within the landscape can read so much more powerfully than many. Strangely this outlook also renders him very popular with producers… (It's our third, and hopefully not last, time of working together). The hotel was our build - as were almost all of the location sets seen in the production.

What proportion was shot on location?

The vast majority. You just wouldn't get that light or landscape any other way. Taking this level of circus to that environment presented great logistical challenges to our producers. But under the management of the simply genius horse-master, Hernan Ortiz, the whole pace of the production was dictated by the rhythm of the horses. This was an entirely beneficial experience.

The titles seem both referential to the genre but unique. How did they come about?

The titles were produced by a long term colleague who brought on one of the lead the creatives behind the "Mad Men" titles. My brief to them was pretty simple - do what you did there, but do it for a Western. I feel they delivered on the brief.

Emily Blunt - Cornelia Locke/Executive Producer

Describe the plot of The English in 15 seconds.

It is Alice in a wild west Wonderland. Cornelia Locke arrives to seek revenge for her son's death. She seeks the help of a Pawnee warrior played by Chaske Spencer, and together they go on this epic adventure.

Why do you think The English will resonate with a global audience no matter where in the world they are?

The English will resonate with a global audience no matter where they live because, don't we all need that wide screen epic adventure classic? I think we all look for that kind of escapism, to be swept away and kidnapped by a world, and this is that world.

How did you come to be part of this project and what interested you the most on reading the scripts?

I was sent the pilot and I knew it was a Western, which I'd never done before, so I was compelled to read it. I read the first page and I knew I was doing it from her first monologue. I felt completely kidnapped by this world. I called my agent after page two, and I said, 'I think I'm going to be doing this show'. I was so struck by it.

Why do you think it is important to tell this story now?

I think it's an important story to tell because most of us go through life trying to figure out what our identity is. This is a story about identity, about reclaiming that for yourself. It's about self-discovery, and I think everybody can identify with that. A lot of people have been through something traumatic, and valiantly stepped forward, and I think people will see themselves in these characters.

Can you describe The English to the audience?

The English is an epic romance - and at the same time, it's this propulsive chase thriller, so the whole experience of watching it is heart racing and very romantic.

Cornelia is seeking a blood revenge, and Eli is seeking a land claim. They both see these end goals as being a part of reclaiming their identity, and an awakening for themselves.

What are the key themes explored in The English?

I think revenge and identity are, at its core, the main themes. You've got Cornelia's character, who is seeking a blood revenge, and if she's able to carry that out then she sees a reclaiming of who she is. And you've got Eli Whipp, who's just seeking a land claim. It sounds simple, but that is his way of reclaiming his identity after leaving the U.S. army and all the atonement of guilt he has to go through. But tonally, the story is told in this very intimate way that's funny, violent, but also epic. We haven't seen that for a while, something so epic and so beautiful with something that has modern intimacy to it.

There are many challenges on this journey for Cornelia, both emotional and physical. What does she discover about herself when faced with these?

She looks like a complete fish out of water when she first arrives. She's in this beautiful pale, lacy, pink dress. She is gussied up and looks ill-prepared for what awaits her in this dust-ridden, violent, masculine world. Her costumes, and how they go from pink to red to purple, are like the bruising of her journey that she goes on, that's symbolised in what she wears. Even though the journey is something that frays her physically, she emotionally grows so much, and it's like an awakening for her. It's an awakening of who she is.

When you first meet her, you think "oh, she is never going to make it, it's over". By the end, she's had this remarkable transformation.

What she discovers about herself is that she's a force to be reckoned with. It is a voyage of what she's truly capable of; the violence, the revenge, the physical duress and trauma that she can overcome.

There are certain scenes I remember being particularly fevered, which were the ones I had with Rafe Spall, who plays the baddie. He was just so dangerous in the scenes that I remember finding them very transporting and hard to shed afterwards. Those scenes are important because they're integral to understanding her backstory and why she is the way she is.

Can you tell us about your preparation for the shoot? It is obviously a very physical role with many stunts and much time spent on horses.

I always love the physical preparation because it puts you in the body of this person. I'd always ridden as a kid, but not to this extent, and not with this ability. I trained for four months before we did it, and I would ride two or three times a week. When we got to Spain, we were on horses all the time and we had the most beautiful horse master, who was like a gentle conductor and horse whisperer. The horses are so extraordinary. They're like artists, they're incredible. My horse, Ethos, became my little soul buddy. I was very sad to leave him. It was a beautiful relationship at the end.

There is an incredible cast attached to the series. Could you describe your experience working with Chaske Spencer?

Chaske plays Eli like it's a Paul Newman role, it's very striking to watch him. The character is so beautiful because he's weighed down by sadness, he's closed off, and she comes along and moves it all around and wakes him up. I love seeing him unfurl in that way. He is the kind of actor who can do nothing and you lean in, you're riveted by him. He's completely captivating. He's got this stillness that was so regal and beautiful to watch.

Could you describe your experience working with Rafe Spall, Ciaran Hinds and Valerie Pachner?

I've always been such a fan, but Rafe came into this show like a dangerous Ferrari. It was just lights out, brilliant. His character is very lethal, he's scary. Ciaran Hinds was such a hoot! We had such a joy doing this scene where he plays a horrible character, but we had such a laugh doing it together. I loved working with Valerie Pachner. She's such a formidable actress. She's so special and such a force because she has this steeliness to her in the character, and a ferocity that's needed for Martha. It was beautiful to see the character's cracks forming over the course of the story, to see the vulnerability of someone who has also suffered a great deal. There are a lot of characters who have suffered something traumatic in this and have chosen to move forward in a valiant way.

Could you describe your experience working with writer-director Hugo Blick?

Hugo Blick and I would speak quite a lot about casting. He had a very free rein with whoever he wanted, but he would ask me what I thought for the integral parts that I would be working with - Chaske being the most important one, he wanted to make sure we all felt we'd found our Eli. I trust Hugo's opinion on everything, to be honest with you, so I think that if he'd liked someone and thought someone was great then I'm sure I was going to feel the same.

The thing that stays with me about Hugo is that yes, he wrote this, he birthed this idea, and you can't believe one man came up with such a dexterous and stunning world - but then, as a director, he didn't cling on to it tightly. That was what was so refreshing because normally a writer-director has a tight grasp on it, and you feel you've got no wiggle room with the material as an actor. I think he realised early on that she was mine now, he was Chaske's now. There was a gracious handover. Genuinely, I think every day he was waiting to see what I'd do, and I felt such freedom in that.

Hugo's writing is completely singular. It's epic, and yet intimate. It's romantic and operatic, and yet very funny. It's dangerous, it's violent. I hadn't read something like that, that was so subtle and yet so symbolic.

Can you tell us about some of the wonderful locations you've been shooting in?

We shot in Spain, which was where they shot all the old spaghetti Westerns, and you can see why. The landscape is vast, and we needed different landscapes because the journey they go on starts in Kansas - in the flats, the dust - and it goes through Wyoming, into rocky, beautiful formations. Spain offers all of it.

The night was so beautiful because the sun would be setting, and with all the horses and the wagons and everything, it would kick up this dust that would add this eerie, beautiful, spellbinding look to the whole thing. It was like a dust bath, and I missed it when I came back to New York, to this concrete jungle.

How have you found shooting in Spain?

When we were there, we realised there was nowhere else we would rather have shot this. The crew was 95% Spanish, and one of the best crews I've ever worked with.

It was so hot. I have never been hotter than that in my life - and I've shot in Atlanta in the middle of the summer and thought I'd never experience heat like that. We were warned about it, but the corset acts like a heat trap, your skin doesn't breathe. I'd be in a corset, wool pants, a skirt, shirt, waistcoat, jacket. I don't think I ever got used to it.

Can you tell us a bit about your costumes and the collaboration with the costume designer, Phoebe de Gaye?

Phoebe is the most collaborative, emotionally driven costume designer I've ever worked with. She was so invested, intrigued, and interested in how I wanted to play her; "what do you feel about her?", "why do you think she does that?". I've never felt less of a clothes horse in my life. She said, "tell me emotionally where she's at" and that's what she's led by which is why the costumes become emblematic of their journey and who they are. It's not just because it looks cool or it's a cool colour. When I first arrived there, she said "she should look out of place, right?" And, my god, she looks out of place in the pinkest dress you've ever seen in this stark, saturated landscape. She's just visually so clever. That idea of her going to red, to a purple-y burgundy, is representative of the bruising of her journey, and Phoebe thinks of all these things. It's just incredible.

Chaske Spencer - Eli Whipp

Can you describe The English?

I would describe The English as an action-adventure, romantic, revenge story. It's an adventure, but I think everyone who watches it will pull something out of it. The characters are very real - and there's also a history there as well, so I hope the audience enjoys it.

How did you come to be part of this project?

I auditioned and had a session with Hugo and Emily. They were very fun scenes to do because, once I read them, I got how the language and the dialogue was going to be in a rhythm. I was very nervous - I think I told them that - and they decided to take a chance on me.

My own personal experience as a Native American played a lot into this character. I tried to bring that to life and to represent him as genuinely as I possibly could. As a Native American man, and an actor and artist, it's pretty rare to be a lead in a project like this. I have to say I had amazing support from Hugo, Emily, the crew - it made me feel comfortable to take risks in this character.

What attracted you to the character of Eli Whipp?

What attracted me to Eli was his past - exploring that side of American history and the plight of Native Americans. The English hits on that, and you see it through the eyes of Eli.

I like that Eli is a warrior type and very masculine. It's a beast of a role. To me, I saw him as a modern- day biker, an ex-veteran. Someone who has seen war and been through tragedy. If Eli were alive today, he would be riding a Harley Davidson with a big beard and tattoos, and he probably would have met Cornelia at a truck stop. When I was reading through this, my imagination was going with that, and I hope I can represent that in him, because I do see him as an ex-vet. He suffers from PTSD and loneliness, and throughout the story you see those walls start coming down - with both characters, Cornelia and Eli. That's what I wanted to bring to Eli, to make him as human as possible. I had great help from Hugo and Emily with that process.

Was there anything that surprised you about the period of history portrayed in the script?

What surprised me about what I found in the scripts is the Pawnee scouts, and how proud they were. That's a subject that I wasn't too aware of, and never read about in the history of Native Americans. I was exploring that aspect of the character and trying to find a correlation where I can relate to that. They had a long history of being very proud of their country and I wanted to make sure that I honoured that in the character and for the Pawnee tribe.

What was your favourite moment from the series, and why?

There was one night when we had the first exchange from Eli to Cornelia at the beginning of episode one. When we were filming that, it was a full moon. It was a very surreal moment for me. It's been a long journey to get The English made, especially when the Covid pandemic was going on - we didn't know if it was going to happen or not - and I gave acknowledgement to the film gods, or whoever makes this thing work, to absorb what we're doing and the beginning of the journey of filming. That was a very significant moment for me.

Is this your first starring role in a Western?

Yes, it is. It was fun - it's an adventure, but it's definitely hard work. When I was growing up, I watched a lot of Westerns. I've always wanted to play a role like the strong silent type - the Clint Eastwood, the Charles Bronson, the Gary Cooper. Most of my career, I've been a character actor, a supporting actor. Being a lead in this, it's a different type of acting style than I've ever done. It was stepping out of my comfort zone to play a role like this.

Can you tell us more about your character and what drives him?

What I feel drives Eli in this story is peace. He just wants to go home. In my own interpretation of the character, I think he was going home to heal, and to say goodbye to the demons that had been driving him his whole life up to that point. I think Cornelia coming into his life also helped him bring the walls down and start the process of healing. For me, Eli is a damaged man, a man of many demons. At the end of the day, I think he just wants peace.

Can you tell us about some of the wonderful locations you've been shooting in?

While filming The English, I was very taken aback by the locations we were filming at. There were times I had to take a step back, and I actually thought I was in New Mexico or Wyoming. It felt like we'd lived in this landscape for 20, 30 years.

What are the challenges of making a Western?

The hardest part about a Western is the elements. You're in the hot sun, the dust, the horses. The animals will never do exactly what you want them to do, so it's a lot of patience, a lot of time, and you have to go with it. Some things are out of your control and all you can do is show up on the day and on that moment and deliver a good performance.

What's the best advice you've ever received as an actor?

The best advice I ever heard someone say was that, as an actor, you have to be the calm centre. There's a lot of moving parts on a set, and at the end of the day they're all waiting on you to deliver your line, hit your mark. When I work, I always remember that.

Describe your character, Eli's, relationship with Cornelia.

I like the chemistry and the dialogue between Eli and Cornelia. We both come from very sad backgrounds and both of them are on their own separate journey. While they're going on this journey, they have self-discoveries as well. The country is built on blood. Watching these two characters go through this adventure through the wild west, they develop a relationship of trust, of respect, of love, and I hope the audience will see that.

Could you describe your experience working with Emily and the other members of the cast?

Working with this amazing cast on The English is one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life as an actor. I look at Emily as a morale booster, a beautiful human being inside and out, a leader. She's very patient and very kind. As we worked on scenes together, I'd get caught just watching her in awe of how she would bring such genuine performances to Cornelia.

I've been a fan of Stephen Rea forever. You learn a lot from working with actors at the top of their game. We have a wonderful cast of British actors, Canadian actors, American actors. I think Hugo Blick did an amazing job in casting everyone in this series. Everyone came ready and passionate about the writing of Hugo Blick. It was very fun to play in that sandbox with the amazing cast.

What is it about Hugo's writing and directing style that makes his production stand out from the rest?

What I found about the script, and Hugo's writing, is the rhythm and flow of the dialogue - you can tell it's written by an actor. The rhythm between all the characters feels real, and there's some great Western lines in there. They're very classic lines. I like that, in some scenes, Eli doesn't have to say much - not because I don't want to memorise lines - because sometimes as a character you can have more emotion and explain a scene with just behaviour and eyes. I've never done that before, so it was challenging. I found that after reading each episode, I just couldn't wait to film.

Can you tell us a bit about your costumes? Did you give any input in the fit and design?

What I loved about working with wardrobe and with Phoebe de Gaye is her attention to detail. Going into hair and makeup, and with wardrobe, the character came to life through wardrobe fittings. When I first talked to her, I knew right away that it was going to be a very fun process. She was asking my input on things - what felt right, and what felt right to the character. When I put the costume on at the beginning of my day, that's when I feel Eli comes to life. That's all wardrobe's work. They met me in the middle to create this character.

Why do you think it is important to tell the story of The English now?

People who turn on and watch are going to find elements in this story that they relate to, and just be able to tune out the world for an hour and go on this adventure with these characters. By the end of each episode, hopefully they'll want more and more, and get lost in this.

Stephen Rea - Sheriff Robert Marshall

How did you come to be part of this project and what interested you most on reading the scripts?

I was blown away by it. I wrote back to Hugo to say it was the most incredible thing I had ever read. The whole question of the treatment of indigenous people is coming up all over the world, with respect to the loss of language, culture, land.

Why do you think it is important to tell this story now?

What drama can do, particularly when it's written by someone like Hugo - who writes in such a human way - is that you learn and sympathise more and more. I remember this phrase from a Native American who described seeing a white man tearing over the landscape in search of gold and described the gold as "the metal that makes the man mad".

In terms of storytelling, what do you think is unique about The English?

I find it incredibly moving to be in a piece where all the Native Americans are played by Native Americans. Chaske is the real deal and it's incredibly powerful. It gives me so much hope that they can recover more land as well as the acknowledgement of what 'the English'/white folk have done to those people. It isn't simply an adventure story - it's a savage, tragic tale of love.

Can you tell us more about your character and what drives him?

It's nice to be relieved of the responsibility of pretending to be an American. An Irish Sheriff is an authentic figure and I like that very much. My character has all the roughness and readiness of an Irish countryman, which is accurate because a lot of people from Northern Ireland went to the West and created a lot of the culture of that place.

Can you tell us about some of the locations you've been shooting in?

We had a wonderful location with a variety of landscapes. We didn't have to travel a whole lot to get the variety that we needed. The setting here in Spain is glorious - it's been unbelievable.

What is it about Hugo's writing and directing style that makes his productions stand out from the rest?

I think Hugo could work on any location and any subject. What I love about him personally, is that he's always looking for the bit of truth that actors can bring to the role. Only a great writer can do that. Tragedy is the hardest subject to do authentically and the truth of Eli and Cornelia's love has the most staggering power. Once the writer can take on the tragic themes in that way, he has achieved real greatness. I do believe that is the case with Hugo. But then, there's hope in it too because they have that love in the situation that they are in.

Could you describe your experience working with Chaske Spencer?

Chaske is a great actor. I watched him in a scene where he had very little to say, but there was so much strength coming from him, that I thought, "this man is a great actor and it's time for him to emerge".

Valerie Pachner - Martha Myers

Can you describe The English to the audience?

The English is a Western, so you have the guns, horses, fights, sweat, heat and the heated dialogue, but then it tells a story of destruction. You have all those themes - the cycle of violence, revenge, pain, trauma that is being passed on through generations, personal guilt, but also guilt of a whole society. It's epic in that sense and that is what I think makes it so rich.

A Western allows you to have all those iconic scenes - everything is loaded with life and death. I think that is what makes it so interesting and fun. It's almost like a fantasy, so it's not quite a real world but it is based in our real world.

What interested you the most on reading the scripts?

What I really loved about the scripts was that on the one hand, you have this Western genre with all the horses and the guns and that Western attitude, but on the other hand, you have this rawness to the characters that allows you to get very close to them. It makes a great mix of the Western genre and something more like realism.

What is it about Hugo's writing that makes this story stand out?

It is incredible how precise Hugo's writing is. Throughout the shoot, we rarely had to change a sentence, or even a word. As an actor, you can really go with it and let your character open up and breathe through these words.

There's a huge range of characters in the whole series and each one of them is special - every character has their own little story, and each moment is significant. There's this authenticity that you can feel in the dialogue and each character, it's like they're real and you can touch them.

What attracted you to the character of Martha Myers?

I was surprised by Martha. Before, I'd only seen women in Westerns as bartenders or prostitutes and I hadn't really seen a hardworking woman on her own. That was something that certainly surprised me, in a good way.

Why do you think it is important to tell this story now?

The aftereffects of imperialism and colonisation can still be felt today. The destruction is still there and the oppression that came from it. It's happening in a lot of parts of the world.

What are the challenges of making a Western?

The daily challenges of filming a Western are the sun, heat and horses. Each time I had a take on a horse, it was always moving, and at the same time, you have dialogue. I found acting on the horse extremely challenging. The heat was a big challenge on this series. I had this big coat, and then Emily and I were wearing corsets. Life for women is also harder in the Wild West! I feel like all these elements are also what a Western is about and, ultimately, helped us. After a long day of hard work on the field under the sun, you could feel how they felt, how exhausted they must have been, and that put you back into the whole sphere.

Can you tell us about your preparation for the shoot?

The most important thing was definitely learning how to ride a horse - I didn't know I would love it so much!

Can you tell us a bit about your costumes?

The costume designer, Phoebe de Gaye and I both thought that the practicality of the clothes would be the most important for Martha. It has to serve her everyday life of being a cowgirl. She had this great design of these wide riding trousers that I'm wearing almost all the time, which was very practical for being on the horse - I was really grateful that I had them. We chose some wider pieces as well, because I felt that she wouldn't think that much about pleasing men.

What was your favourite moment on the series and why?

My favourite moment on The English was when I jumped into the herd of cattle because there was real fear involved! Apart from that, it was shooting the scene with Sheriff Marshall, when Martha opens up to him for the first time. You get to know Martha as this tough, guarded woman with anger issues, and then she finally finds someone who sees her and listens and, through talking to him, she gets closer to herself. That scene was only the second scene that Stephen Rea and I shot together. That was tough, but very rewarding to get that intimacy right away.

There is an incredible cast attached to the series. Could you describe working with them?

The cast has been a dream. Everyone has come in with such a dedication to the project, such a pure heart to it and with such easiness. Working with Stephen Rea was so much fun and such a blessing, to have colleagues where you allow yourself to let things happen and to give space to whatever is in between. It was pure joy and happiness working with Walt Klink, who plays my son. He was so young but so focused.

I remember when I first saw Chaske in his costume, I was so impressed by his presence and his stillness and Emily is so sweet, cool and fun. When we were all together for one of the final scenes, I remember watching Rafe and Emily and it felt bigger than life because of how Rafe is in that character, but there was also such a realness to it.

How have you found shooting in Spain?

Filming in Spain has been a dream. There's nice weather all the time - sometimes it's a little too hot! I love hearing more than one language on set. The mix of Spanish and English was cool - like in the Wild West when there were so many languages coming together and mixing. I felt like that was a parallel.

We shot in El Espinar which has a spectacular landscape and looks like the Wild West. There were herds of cattle, real cowboys and the most spectacular sunsets that we were rewarded with every evening.

Rafe Spall - David Melmont

Can you describe The English to the audience?

The English is an epic of Dickensian scope. It's about revenge, taking what's yours, the foundation of America, love and quite funny in parts.

How would you describe the show in 3 words?

Great American story

How would you describe your character in 3 words?

Heart of darkness

How did you come to be part of this project and what interested you the most on reading the scripts?

My involvement in The English came about because I had worked with Hugo Blick previously. I was doing a play in London, and he came and saw it and he said, "I've got something for you in this new thing I'm going to do, it's a Western". He asked me to read it and share my thoughts and if I'd like to be involved. It was an immediate yes even without reading the script and then I read it and it is of course, the heartbreaking work of staggering genius. The world, scope, characters, deep writing and locations. The opportunity to work with Hugo again - it was the easiest decision of my life.

What is it about Hugo's writing and directing style that makes his production stand out from the rest?

This entire story has come from the mind of Hugo Blick. He's not only a brilliant writer, but a truly brilliant director. He's very kind, which might be surprising for some people, because he's capable of writing such darkness. He's always extremely calm, even if there's fifteen horses in a scene, guns, stunts, wagons and 90-degree heat. Getting to work with him and be a part of delivering this thing that - in the reading of it - seems his magnum opus, is a genuine career high.

What was your favourite moment from the series, and why?

There's been a few moments on set where I've gone "I'm in a Western, that's crazy!". This is the sort of stuff you imagined acting to be like when you were a kid. Usually, in my career, I'm in a car park in London somewhere in the drizzle. But this is very special and to be filming here in Spain with an exceptional world class Spanish crew has been a massive joy.

How have you found shooting in Spain?

This is my first time shooting in Spain. There are these extraordinary rocks and plains. I tricked myself into thinking I'm in the American West.

Can you tell us more about your character and what drives him?

David Melmont is a man accompanying an English Aristocrat - who is a second son of a big family - to the American West to do a recce of the land, where they intend to bring 50,000 head of cattle. My character commits an atrocity as part of a massacre, where 100 Native American women and children and defenseless people are murdered. He is truly bad to the bone, but at the same time, I'm still playing a human being - no matter how bad they are. It gives you a big launching pad to be very creative. It's been a challenge, but one that I've relished and loved.

Could you describe your experience working with other members of the cast?

Acting opposite Emily Blunt in this has been incredible. She's got such acting chops - very alive, brilliant, versatile, and fun. She paints with very fine brush strokes. This is a real cornucopia of a cast, with extraordinary talent - real black belts. You've got actors like Toby Jones and Ciaran Hinds and it's a testament to the material that you've got all these talented actors coming to do the show.

I've loved seeing the emergence of a new star, Chaske Spencer. He's just brilliant and he looks and acts like a movie star. He's so still, detailed, beautiful and incredible.

Why do you think it is important to tell this story now?

When you are part of any story you have to ask yourself: "why now?". There must be a social relevance and pertinence whenever you approach something. There are myriad reasons why this is pertinent now. Different people will get different things from it. It's extraordinary to be a part of a story which is representing that experience and the harsh truths about the blood that underpins all Western civilization.

A theme of the show is class. A working-class man from England comes to the American West and has an epiphany about how that stuff doesn't apply to him anymore - and that's the American Dream. The American Dream is a positive thing, but there's a dark underbelly to it. For certain people to achieve their dream, others have got to have a nightmare.

Can you tell us a bit about your costumes?

We're lucky to have the wonderful Phoebe de Gaye as the Costume Designer on this. She's been responsible for some of the most iconic costumes on British television. She saw the character as being a bit flamboyant. Her saying that inspired how I played the character. Then you go to the costume fitting and that's my first entry point for a character, because once I've got a frock on, I know what I'm going to do with it. And you start moving about it in - especially with period costumes - it makes you stand and in a different way. A large part of what I've thrown at this character is down to her.

In a big scene in the show, I'm wearing an extraordinary ankle-length fur lined, fur collared coat, two pairs of trousers, a beautiful waistcoat and some extraordinary tiny sunglasses with the idea being that my character has become rich and has gone to New York or some other metropolis. He's spent his money and has convinced himself that he's wearing these clothes, even if on a drill site or getting covered in mulch. It's because he owns them now, and he feels like he owns America.

Why do you think this series will resonate with a global audience?

This is a show for everyone. It's glamorous, fun, evocative. The landscapes, sets and costumes are incredible. That's the stuff that pulls you in and the things that keep you there are the universally relatable things: love, revenge, people trying to get by when they feel the world is against them. At the core of it are Emily and Chaske's characters trying to do the right thing.

Tom Hughes - Thomas Trafford

How would you describe The English?

It's a story of passion, loyalty, survival in the face of adversity, revenge, fear, corruption, and hope. It's set against the backdrop of a time of radical change in the world, and the awe and power of nature.

What interested you the most on reading the scripts?

It's multifaceted - I was looking for a character that feels different to what I've played before, a director that you admire, and you think can help push you in a direction you've not been in before, which was the case in this instance. Then, it's about the story and the writing. Is the arc of the story interesting, and is the writing good? It's rare that you get to tick all of them.

I was fascinated by Thomas and drawn to his complexities. The idea of piecing that into this incredible story, coupled with the fact it's a Western meant the whole mixing pot was an attraction.

What is it about Hugo's writing and directing style that makes his productions stand out from the rest?

I've been lucky in my career that I've worked with a lot of writer/directors, auteurs, almost. As an actor, that experience is a gift because you can challenge the obvious linear way of telling the story by going against the grain. You're initially more constricted because you're in this very clear focus, but you can throw challenges at that, and it's always celebrated. On a personal level, my experience of working with Hugo was exhilarating.

In terms of storytelling, what do you think is unique about The English?

The Western is a genre that we all know and recognise, but there's a lot of that period of history that's not had the light shone on it. Hugo's passion for detail and historical accuracy and metronomic focus and compassion in trying to tell that story broadly and fairly is exciting. We can hopefully bring a whole other historical, cultural and sociological commentary with the excitement of the genre of a Western.

What are the challenges of making a Western?

The heat, horses, moustaches, clothes - which are breathtakingly amazing but heavy, as they would be and are therefore accurate, but in the heat that can be tricky.

I'd never really ridden a horse before, but I've loved it. I've been lucky enough to do things in the show like get the horse up to what feels like one hundred miles per hour, but it's probably about three! The other thing with the horses is that you're not dealing with a machine where you can tell it very specifically what to do, you're dealing with an animal with its own ideas, thoughts and feelings. You'll be halfway through a scene and you've just found something that's magical and your horse will decide it's the perfect time to go to the toilet.

Was there anything that surprised you about the period of history portrayed in the script?

The series is called The English and it's called that for a reason. That was the name that was coined for the influx of people coming from, predominantly Europe, but all over really, to partake in this land- grab and fortune trail. Looking through a moment in America's history where everything is up in the air, to learn about the impact that influx had was breath-taking. I knew certain things about it but not in the way that I feel I do now.

Can you tell us about your character and what drives him?

I'm quite fascinated by Thomas in many ways. There's an emotional bravery but also a naivety - there's an eccentricity to him but there's also the constraints of the aristocracy and things he's grown up with. What made him get up and go and come to a landscape where it's barren and you're living with the land? I think he misjudged it. He probably had a vision of what it was and that leads me towards what I think is the heart of him - he's an idealist and a romantic. I was determined to get this hope in there, this pulsing beat of optimism.

Could you describe your experience working with other members of the cast?

Coming to film with Emily Blunt, Chaske Spencer, Stephen Rea, Ciaran Hinds, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones… that's not intimidating at all! On one level it was like, 'Jesus, I've got to really be on my game here'. I found it exciting because when you get a cast of people together who are not only that experienced, but clever, and to be coming on a set with those people was a thrill - you want to be working with people who are going to challenge you and push you.

How do you unlock your character?

There are many ways of unlocking a character, but costume is massive. The moment of putting a costume on changes your rhythm. It's important for me to find a collaboration and follow Phoebe de Gaye's quite breath-taking vision for it was amazing. The costume is important for Thomas because the buckskins he wears when we meet him in 1875 are so indicative of who he is at that point and his slight naivety, he's certainly not worldly wise. He just looks like a bit of a fool, but we needed to mark that in a way that didn't place him as a fool eternally for an audience, we need to almost be charmed by it than stand back and laugh at it, and that's a difficult thing to get right.

Tell us about the costume...

I spoke to Phoebe de Gaye and she agreed that we feel Thomas would still be pining for England and therefore we wanted to get the depth of colours that would lean towards the wealth and the aristocracy he comes from. It was mind blowing what she'd done, so much had been made and the buckskin coat was off the chart. It helped me to not have to play that part of him, that's very intrinsic in his formative years, I wanted that to be subtly shown to the audience and Phoebe took that idea and ran with it - the costumes were amazing, they did 99% of my job for me.

What was it like shooting in Spain?

When I found out the shoot was in Spain that was exciting. You feel like you're on Mars sometimes because it's so wild, the nature. The locations have been fantastic, it does the job for you because you can't see any civilisation, you do feel like you've been transported to what these guys would have been feeling when they arrived in America. I couldn't have imagined a better place to film it.

In what way will the series resonate with people around the world?

The fact that it's a Western will make it attractive to people - we haven't really had too many recently, although it's a genre that's recognisable, it also feels quite new and almost post-modern in a way that will be exciting to people.

At the heart of it, the story between Cornelia and Eli is something that is equally universal in its attraction to people, we can all recognise elements in that - there's something quite Shakespearian about it at times, that as a centre piece is something everyone can connect with.

There's been a necessary shift recently towards people realising the more you allow stories from all perspectives and interpretations, the more cultivated, blossoming and multifunctional we become as a society on mass. To take the chance to go back through history and look at it broadly, at everything from all angles, but try and include everything that happened and show that tapestry in its fullest. It's going to be a thrill for me to watch it just like everybody else.

Greg Brenman - Executive Producer

Can you describe The English to the audience?

The English is a very exciting Western by Hugo Blick set in 1890. It tells the story of Lady Cornelia Locke, who travels to the vast plains of North America to track a man down who she wants to kill because he was responsible for the death of her son. Along the way, she meets a man called Eli Whipp, who is a Native American and was recently mustered out of the American army. He was a scout for the American army, and so relatively safe within the confines of that place, but outside he's going to immediately face the kind of prejudice that would quite happily see him lynched from the nearest tree. Together, they form an extraordinary relationship - both on separate quests, but together they find an interesting, highly emotional, highly adrenalised partnership.

There is some incredible talent attached to this series. Could you describe your experience working with Hugo, Emily and Chaske?

We always love working with Hugo Blick - it's our third show. We did The Honourable Woman and Black Earth Rising, so when he said he wanted to do a Western, I was immediately in - not only because it was him, but who wouldn't want to make a Western? We also love massive challenges. I love a show which I haven't a clue how we're going to make it, how we're going to fund it or where we're going to shoot it. That ticked all the boxes. Hugo Blick is the most extraordinary author. He comes up with these amazing ideas. He writes them all, then he puts his pen down and becomes the producer and director with us. He will prep the entire show before he films, and he will film and be the director on set for the entire show. His DNA runs through this project from start to finish. He's the most amazing writer, incredibly sensitive and nuanced, and sophisticated in his emotional understanding. But he is also the master of action. There are so many deaths, shoot-ups and action sequences that are incredibly inventive in this show.

Emily has been the most perfect partner on this project from the get-go. We sent her the script and within 48 hours she said, "I've been waiting all my life for this story." Within a week, Hugo was in New York talking to Emily, the week after that we were all in LA, pitching the project. Then on set, Emily was an extraordinary leader of the cast and the crew and set a fantastic tone. She is so invested in this show and this character and it shows. It's a meticulous performance.

Eli Whipp, who is the co-lead, is played by Chaske Spencer, who is Native American. Obviously, it was very important to us and to the show that the part of the Native American was played by a Native American so it felt authentic and so he could bring his own experience to the part. He and Emily are at the heart of an extraordinary myriad cast with wonderful people in it - we've got Stephen Rea, Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones. North America in the 1890s was an eclectic mix of people from all different nationalities staking a claim to land, coming where they weren't invited or wanted, or feeling that this is where God wanted them to be. The English, in many ways, deals with the diversity which is the foundation of modern America.

Why do you think it's important to tell the story of The English now?

The English is an extraordinary adventure set in 1890, but it tells us as much about the times we live in today as the times in which it's set. The English is going to take you to a world you've often seen, but I think you'll see it in a very different way. This is a Hugo Blick Western that has got all the different idiosyncrasies of that world. You will forget about 21st century living and will immerse yourself in this world.

Chris Roope - Production Designer

How did you come to be part of this project?

I've worked with Hugo a number of times before: first on The Honourable Woman, and then on Black Earth Rising. I think we were three quarters of the way through Black Earth Rising when Hugo said we should do a period show together - three months later he said he wanted to do a Western. I read the first two scripts almost two years ago, so it's been quite a journey. Of course, this was extended by Covid, but nonetheless, I was very excited from the outset.

When you first read the scripts, what interested you most from a production designer's point of view?

What I enjoy about Hugo's scripts is the setting of the particular story within pretty accurate historical frameworks. So, I think there's always this reality as the base that you can always go back to for information and for grounding. With this being a Western, there's a wonderful lineage and it's a very beautiful story. So, I loved the idea of being able to put a bit of individuality into the various sets and locations. But also, a lot of people know Westerns and I want to be able to reference those but come up with something slightly different.

Can you tell us about your research process on The English?

Research for a Western is rather fun because it involves watching some films, looking at photographs, documents, reading some books, and looking at an awful lot of material online. Then there's a very good book that Hugo recommended called The Cattle Kingdom, which outlines the backbone of the wider setting of the story. Then as a designer, you're always looking at the specifics of the scene and what it has to give. You're thinking where the action has to be and how does the character get from A to B?

What are the challenges associated with filming in incredibly remote and inaccessible locations?

Working in a hot country and in remote locations can be very challenging. You have to pace yourself, particularly over a shoot that covers about 4-5 months/17 weeks. You have to look after yourself and your crew, making sure that what you're asking for is realistic. We've been fantastically fortunate with our crew and was endlessly impressed with their inventiveness, their ideas and their ability to keep going. The construction crew were based in the South of Spain, and they just kept going and bringing up new ideas and beautiful multimedia work, metal, textiles etc. It's been a real joy.

What were the most exciting props to develop?

I've always had an interest in military history, so it was fun to think about the Gatling gun - we had to make sure it worked, but also reduce its size so it could be usable. So it's always that interesting synthesis of not getting too bogged down with every last detail in order to realise the script.

How did the design of the High Street in Hoxem come about?

Hoxem as a town has been created by the character Melmont, who is putting his mark on the land, literally. The centre point of the town is the store of Melmont. The thing that interested me about the town is that it's absolutely new. It's been completely set up from nothing and he's painted his name on the front of his store to say that he's here to dominate. I did quite a lot of reading and writing, looking at pictures and discovered that a lot of towns basically started as tents. People came along and bought a plot and sat on the plot and would pitch a tent and keep their business running as much as possible. As that grew, they could afford to build wooden structures around them, so a lot of what happened is that they put a facade on things - literally and metaphorically.

Can you talk about the layout of the town?

We knew that the main action in the script took place in the Sherriff's tent, Melmont's stall and the carpenter's shop. And so, the town is positioned to look straight down the valley, which is the view from Melmont's stall. This is how we get the classic arrival shot of Eli and Cornelia on horseback. That's a classic thing in the Western genre - seeing two riders coming on horseback with the sun behind them. So, the town faces - East - West and we had the buildings of the town on either side in an asymmetrical manner to give a dissonance to the layout.

Can you talk about the animals you worked with on the series and what that was like?

Doing a Western in Spain has a great advantage in that not only are the locations great, but the animals are too. We worked with a terrific horse master based in Almeria called Hernan and his team of the most wonderful horse masters came with Western gear. They've done a few Westerns before, so they know the appropriate action, and they have access to and have worked with vehicle proprietors before. Therefore, we were able to source the correct wagons and stagecoaches. Horses are a massive undertaking on any show, but in additional to that, we had an animal wrangler who worked with the other livestock like cattle, wolves. In particular, what was wonderful was getting a herd of cows and cattle which were absolutely appropriate to the cattle that was around in the last third of the 19th century, which was a breed of the Texas Longhorn.

Phoebe de Gaye - Costume Designer

How did you prepare for the shoot, and how did the costume design evolve?

The experience of preparing for this project was quite unlike anything I've ever done before because normally we'd have twelve weeks, if we were lucky, to prepare something of this scale. Originally, we were going to shoot in September 2020. With all the delays due to the pandemic, the script had to evolve into happening in the wintertime. At the end of the story, the characters end up in Wyoming, which is mountainous and cold, so there were lots of allusions in the script to people wearing bear furs, wolf skins. We started to prepare all of this, but there was a travel ban in the new year. It then turned into a summer shoot.

I'd already done quite a lot of work for the first lot of principals. I was worried about Valerie Pachner being cold, so we made coats out of thick wool with a big hood and she had woollen shirts underneath. Then, Leticia Palomares, who's our fantastic breakdown artist, took a blowtorch to this wool and it transformed the fabric into something that looked more hardwearing and thinner.

When you first read the scripts, what jumped out at you from a costume designer's point of view?

What really impressed me was the strong dramatic contrast between the characters - that's great for a costume designer. Emily Blunt plays an English woman, very well born, who's come to America on a revenge quest. She's a fish out of water. When we first see her arrive, she almost looks like she's in My Fair Lady. She steps out into this wilderness, and she encounters Eli - it was fascinating to play those two characters off against each other.

From a costume designer's point of view, what is it about a Western that makes people get so excited about it?

The actors have been terribly excited about it being in a Western. They all want to be cowboys! I've never done a Western before and it was an interesting brief because Hugo wanted extreme realism, as well as a heightened romanticism. My approach was not to look at how other people had done it but to go to the source material. There's such a rich photographic treasure trove for this period.

How did you find collaborating with Emily Blunt for Cornelia Locke's costume design?

Emily was very responsive to everything. In most of the show, you see her in a riding outfit, which gets more and more distressed. Riding outfits were traditionally made in green, possibly blue. But it couldn't be blue because Eli had to wear a blue cavalry tunic. We looked at greens on Emily, but then she said that she thought Cornelia should be the colour of bruises. It's a big decision because it's such a big part of the image, but it seemed to really work and I'm so glad she pushed for that. Emily's got a terrific instinct about all these things.

Could you talk a little bit about Melmont, and your collaboration with Rafe Spall?

The last scene we see him in, he's on a rig, so it's muddy and industrial. I thought it would be great if he had a coat that he might swan down some street in New York in, because he's made a lot of money by this point. He's out in the middle of nowhere and he doesn't care if he gets mud on it because he'll get another one. It's got an astrakhan collar that's pale in colour, but at the same time he's got trousers and a big hat. As soon as Rafe put it on, he started swaggering about. He seemed to really relish this sort of dandified thing. You never quite know with actors; you just follow your own instinct and hope it will spark something in the actor's imagination.

Could you tell us about your collaboration with Chaske Spencer, who plays Eli Whipp?

I met Chaske about three weeks before we started filming, so we didn't discuss much before the shoot. One of the authentic things that we had to try and get right with him was the wearing of the breechcloth and the leggings. This is often fudged a bit, but Hugo wanted us to make it how they actually wore these things. It can be quite revealing because the Pawnee would wear a loincloth and the leggings were like chaps. Then, a breechcloth - which is a length of fabric - would hang at the front and be tucked through the legs to the back. Some weird alchemy happened when he tried on the trade blanket and the buffalo robe. He just transformed at that moment.

What are the main differences in the two periods that feature in The English (1870s and 1890s)?

1890 is the main thrust of the story and there are some flashback scenes in 1875. The shape in 1890 for Emily Blunt's character is quite a vertical, angular shape. In the 1870s, it's very different; the skirts are very elaborate with a bustle cage at the back and a lot of drapery. Another aspect, which is quite important dramatically, is that in the 1890s she's completely covered up. You never see any skin at all. But in the 1870s, when we see her in her extreme youth, I was able to play with decolletage a lot more.

What do you think it is about Hugo's writing and directing that makes his projects stand out?

I think Hugo Blick is a very interesting director. The English is full of nuance, it doesn't go for the obvious. It's a complex story and yet it's very exciting and the characters are extremely compelling. There's a succession of extraordinary people that Cornelia and Eli come across throughout the course of their quest. They're isolated in the landscape, which I realised was going to make the costumes very exposed, so we had to make sure they were all very different. But the way they're written, half the work is done for you because there's such a lot to latch onto.

The costumes in The English age throughout the series, amplifying the difficult journeys some of the characters have been on. Why is the work of a Costume Breakdown Artist important?

We've got a fantastic breakdown department, which is run by Leticia - we're extremely lucky to have her. We always have a breakdown expert on set, which I've never had before. Having her on set has been amazing because this show is all about breakdown. Some of these characters have been in the saddle for weeks and weeks, if not years, and that ageing process is a real skill. On Cornelia's riding outfits there are five stages. It's very subtle, but she has this line where she says, "look at what this country has done to me", so you had to see the effects of it on her dress or the line wouldn't make sense. Not only ageing, but also making textures and dyeing.

Lesley Lamont-Fisher - Hair & Make-Up Designer

What is it about a Western that makes it a Hair & Make-Up Designer's dream?

I've worked on a couple of Westerns before and it's such fun. We're working with horses, working outside in different environments, which is fabulous, and the cowboy look is such a fun look.

How interesting was it researching the Native American elements of the show?

With our Native American cast, a lot of them have hair that they've never cut, which is very important because it's like a diary for their life. It's part of their culture, which is very important, and we respected that.

Have you taken any artistic license or is it true to the period?

In designing this, we have made it as accurate as possible. But because we've had the luxury of people growing their hair over the pandemic, we've taken a license where the hair is longer and more interesting. Also, where people had grown long beards, we were able to cut out moustaches and sideburns, which was very exciting.

Can you tell us about your research process on The English?

I had a very interesting conversation with one of our actors, Steve Wall, and he recommended a book his mother had given him, which was an encyclopedia of fabulous photographs of the period. That was very inspiring. My sister also had a book, which she had since the 70s, which had terrific references. I also looked at pictures on the internet and black and white films from the period. I also looked on Pinterest and accrued a whole collection of pictures and references.

What is it like to develop a hair and make-up look with an actor?

A very interesting time in the hair and make-up department is when we first meet an actor. When they've been cast, one of the most important things is for them to feel at home, so they feel comfortable in the makeup room. Then we talk about their character and for most actors, this is one of their favourite parts of the process. We then have a variety of looks that we test on the actors so they get a sense of the character they will become.

Can you talk about the conversations you had with Chaske and how the look for Eli Whipp look was created?

We looked through Pawnee scout references and we came across a photo which we thought was very suitable. The person had plaits on the back and a roach down the centre of his head, which was slightly larger than usual. We had to be careful it would not blow around in the wind. So, we shaved the sides of his hair and left a fine growth at the side and experimented with that. We did a camera test and I'll never forget the shot of him walking towards the camera and everyone agreed that this was the look. Hugo walked in and said there was such an air and dignity that he carried.

Can you talk about the conversations you had with Rafe and how the look for David Melmont was created?

Creating the look for Rafe Spall, who plays David Melmont was very interesting because I wanted him to look very different from how he normally looks, and Rafe was very keen to look different as well. He had grown a beard, so we gave him a huge moustache, which made him instantly look different. Also, we gave him a very short clipper look at the side and then finger wave at the top of his head, which was very unusual. But that was great fun and he kept jumping up and down in the chair for the test because it was totally different to any look he has done before.

Which looks have you enjoyed creating the most?

Rafe's look was one of my favourites. My second was Julian Bleach who was playing McClintock. It was interesting because he initially came in with yellow skin. We initially thought it was because he had jaundice, but we later found out that he had been drinking carrot juice, so we thought we could use that to our advantage. He ended up with this fabulous yellow tint to his skin. Then we decided it would be fun to darken his eyes with purple, take his hair back and shade his cheeks. Julian has a very deep voice, so the character looked very spooky as a result.


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jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago

I'm looking forward to the premier of the series starting on November 11th on Amazon Prime.

Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago

the series sounds very interesting.

Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1    3 weeks ago
the series sounds very interesting.

It sure does, with some really good actors and direction. 

Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

Watched the trailer and this show looks real good. Having more stories feature Native American heroes and protagonists can only help NA visibility in the society in general, which is long overdue. 

I am a big Emily Blunt fan which is also an attraction here. 

I have to mention Hombre though, because the creator of this show says it was unfortunate that Paul Newman was chosen to represent the "Indian experience" instead of an Indian actor. That misrepresents the story. In Hombre John Russell IS a white person who was raised as an Apache. In order to replace Newman with an Indian actor they would have had to change the story, which was based on a novel. The movie Hombre got it right. 

Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago

In that time frame in Hollywood, there is no way an Indian would have been cast as a lead or any character that said more than UGH. Paul Newman was one of my favorite actors.

I found Blick explaining how he came up with the movie very interesting. 

What was the kernel of an idea that led you to writing The English? I was sent to Montana at Eighteen as a stabilizing influence. I lived with a family friend, a retired USAF captain, Olympic Gold Medalist and avid outdoorsman. He taught me how to hunt, shoot, spin a horse - a sort of Will Geer to my Jeremiah Johnson! We also cut wood commercially. Our contracts came from the government to supply those most in need. Sometimes this involved Native people's communities. We made a hunting buddy I called Chief. He wasn't a chief. He called me English. We were easy with this casual racism, but pretty soon I got to see it was a one way street - with all the heavy traffic heading his way. Back then the reservation seemed hard and isolated, particularly in winter. I had never seen such difficulties. Then one day he took off, leaving a couple of bags with us for when he came back. He didn't. Nothing to come back for. I never knew his real name, nor he mine. I regretted that. This was a kernel for The English.

Professor Principal
3  sandy-2021492    3 weeks ago

Adding to my watch list.

Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @3    3 weeks ago

It starts this coming Friday, the 11th.

Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
3.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @3.1    3 weeks ago

Thanks Kavika, this looks very good mini-series with an interesting storyline. I read that there seems to be real chemistry between Spencer and Blunt during their long scenes that they are alone together. 

Professor Principal
3.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.1    3 weeks ago

I'm looking forward to seeing them together, it looks like it will be a great mini-series.

Professor Principal
4  Ender    3 weeks ago

May be interesting but I can't stand Amazon. Had nothing but problems with them. Had to talk to some idiot for half an hour to get my account working and he was rude as fuck.

Never again. Now they keep sending me text messages that my account has been compromised.

Sorry but I won't use amazon for anything.

Professor Principal
4.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Ender @4    3 weeks ago

Those text messages aren't from Amazon.  They're phishing scams.

I had trouble getting logged into my Prime account on my smart TV, but I logged in on my Bluray player, and it works fine.  Weird glitch, though - pretty often, a movie's soundtrack doesn't quite match the picture.  It's kind of annoying.

Professor Principal
4.1.1  Ender  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    3 weeks ago

I thought that might be some scam. I delete them and not even open them.

Professor Principal
4.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    3 weeks ago

I get phone calls telling me that someone has purchased XXX on my Amazon account and I need to call xxxxx number to verify.

Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
4.1.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @4.1.2    3 weeks ago

Mine are always iPhone purchases for delivery in Baltimore even though I live in NOVA. 

Professor Principal
4.1.4  sandy-2021492  replied to  Kavika @4.1.2    3 weeks ago

Same.  I've apparently bought lots of iPhones, airpods, etc.  But they never show up on my Amazon account.

Professor Principal
4.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ender @4    3 weeks ago

Now that you vented about Amazon, what do you think of the series?  jrSmiley_9_smiley_image.gif

Professor Principal
4.2.1  Ender  replied to  Kavika @4.2    3 weeks ago

Haha. I like what the story arch sounds like. 

Not a fan of Westerns though.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
5  Perrie Halpern R.A.    3 weeks ago

Putting this on my "must see TV'. A refreshing new look at the Westerns. 

Professor Principal
5.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5    3 weeks ago

Circle the wagons, save the women and children, they're coming.


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