interview by JANA LETONJA

Actress Harriet Slater most recently starred in the period drama ‘Belgravia: The Next Chapter’. This year, Harriet will star in two horror movies from Sony Pictures, with ‘Tarot’, which is coming out today, on 3rd May, being her first feature film as a lead. She will also star as the lead in the ‘Outlanders’ prequel, ‘Outlanders: Blood of My Blood’.

Harriet, we’ve just been able to watch you in ‘Belgravia: The Next Chapter’. What was your favourite part about this period drama?
It’s really hard to choose a favourite part because there was so much that I loved. The costumes, the hair and makeup, the incredible locations that we were able to shoot at. As a period drama fan, it was a dream come true. But I think above all else, the people that I got to work alongside every day for five months really made it for me. I couldn’t have asked for a more brilliant cast or crew. We had such a laugh on set. I made friends for life.

This year is shaping up to be a big year for your acting career. First up next, you’ll be leading your first feature film ‘Tarot’. What can you tease about this supernatural horror film?
I can tell you that you should go and see it. It’s about this group of friends who accidentally unleash an evil curse when they do tarot readings with an old set of cards that they discover in the basement of the house they’ve rented for the weekend. What a nightmare. One by one, their readings start to come true in really dark ways and they find themselves in a race to reverse the curse and escape their fates before it’s too late. There are deeper themes at play as well. It’s about love and loss, and whether or not we have free will over our lives. We shot in Serbia for two months back in 2022 and had an absolute blast. 

Tell us more about your character in the film.
I play Hayley, who’s a fatalist and believes that destiny is predetermined. She’s big into tarot and astrology and uses them as a way to make sense of the things that happen to her. She’s struggling to process her grief and I think she finds solace in the knowledge that the future is inevitable. But when her friends start dying because of the readings she did for them, she ends up on a mission to rewrite the stars, which causes her to question her belief system. The film is kind of about her allowing herself to let go of certain things and ultimately taking agency of her own life. 

How was it filming all the scary and gruesome scenes for ‘Tarot’?
It was great fun and exhausting at times, both physically and emotionally. But it was such a thrill. There was an incredible SFX makeup department on the film who were able to transform the actors playing the monsters so that most of the time we were actually reacting to real, living, horrifying things. That was a treat as an actor because instead of being chased by a tennis ball on a stick, we were running through sets away from these terrifying creatures. The adrenaline rush was real and the screams kind of came naturally.

Which genre excites you creatively the most as an actor and why?
That’s a hard one. I feel really lucky that recently I’ve worked across lots of different genres and learnt so much from each one. Horror, period drama, action, adventure. They each present their own unique challenges, which keeps me on my toes as an actor and keeps the job exciting. But there’s something about period dramas that I just love. I think being in one is the closest thing to time travel and it gives me the same feeling that diving into a dressing up box did as a kid. 

What got you passionate about performing and acting in the first place?
It was amateur dramatics at my local theatre in Leicester. I was six years old and my uncle was directing a musical and needed a little boy, and kindly thought of me. I was hooked from the moment I got up on the stage. It was the most exciting thing in the world. I performed there every year throughout my childhood. I think that’s what gave me the experience and confidence I needed to really see myself doing this as a career. 

How did you land your first acting gig after being in theatre for many years prior?
My first TV gig was ‘Pennyworth’ and I booked it off a self-tape back in 2018. I started shooting two months later and quickly realised that screen was a totally different world to theatre. I had to learn and adapt on the job because all of my previous experience had only really prepared me for the stage. It was terrifyingly exposing, but it was also a brilliant crash course. And so much fun being part of the DC universe and living in 1960s London for a bit. I’m so grateful for that job and everything it taught me and for the team who took a chance on me. 

Where would you like to see your career in the coming years?
Honestly, I don’t know and that’s the beauty of it. It’s such an unpredictable job, you never know when the next gig is coming or what it’ll be or where in the world it’ll take you. It has the potential to really change your life overnight, which makes planning kind of hard sometimes. If I’m still working and learning and travelling and getting to tell stories that resonate with people, then I’ll be happy. 

When you’re not on set, how do you like spending your days off?
Catching up with friends and sleep. And roaming around wherever I can. I’ve fallen hard for Scotland and I can’t wait to explore more of it this year.

Next up, we‘ll be seeing you in another horror film and also in the ‘Outlanders: Blood of My Blood’. What can we expect from this prequel?
Beyond excited. The show is so beloved and the support from the fans has been overwhelmingly lovely. I have pinch me moments all the time. I can’t reveal too much, but ‘Outlanders: Blood of My Blood’ belongs in the same universe as ‘Outlander’ and follows the separate love stories of the parents of both Jamie and Claire in the 18th century Scottish Highlands and WW1 England. I’m playing Jamie’s mother, Ellen MacKenzie, who’s a total badass in my opinion. The rest of the cast are a glorious and madly talented bunch. It’s a dream. 

all photography by JEMIMA MARRIOTT