Interview by JANA LETONJA

Actress Kaya Scodelario will soon be seen co-leading Guy Ritchie’s highly anticipated Netflix series ‘The Gentlemen’, which is being released on 7th March. This year, she will also star in Netflix’s mini series ‘Senna’, a biographical drama on legendary Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.

Kaya, you’re starring in Guy Ritchie’s series ‘The Gentlemen’, which is premiering in a few days on Netflix. How exciting was working on this show for you?

The show was really exciting to work on. I’ve wanted to do something set in the UK for a long time. I’ve been a big fan of Guy Ritchie’s early films and I really just loved the character. I thought that she was interesting, a grown up, had her own arc and is a strong, fierce woman. I thought it would be really exciting to play someone who teeters between being the good guy and the villain, and it was a really great shoot. It took six months to shoot here in England and we visited some incredible big country houses and had a really great time.

dress LANVIN

In the series, you portray Susie Glass. Tell us more about your character and her role in the story.

Susie Glass is a gangster. She’s not the wife of a gangster, she is the gangster. She’s incredibly well dressed, very smart, very astute. She’s got the biggest guts in the room at all times and that’s what I love about her. She’s sort of the caretaker for her father’s weed empire while he’s in prison. But throughout the series, we realise that she’s more than that. She is actually the brains behind the operation and she meets this new Duke Eddie, who comes back to inherit this land in which she has a weed farm at. And she recognises that Eddie may be more useful to her, not only as the landlord, but as someone who can actually help her get stuff done. She kind of takes him on a journey to understand the criminal underworld, to get a taste for it, to see if it’s something that he would be good at.

What was your favorite part of working with this cast and crew?

My favourite part was the collaboration. We all kind of had big ideas about what our characters were and how we wanted to tell the stories with them. We all incorporated that into our performances. For me, it was also really great to watch some of the bigger characters, some of the more comedic roles. Getting to have a front row seat to see some actors really give it their all with the comedy and the physicality of it was really inspiring. I loved having Ray Winstone as a dad. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? He’s an absolute giant teddy bear and a lovely, classy gentleman. It was a real pleasure to go toe to toe with him in some of our scenes, to push myself as an actor and to learn from him.

This year, we’ll also be seeing you in Netflix’s biographical drama series ‘Senna’ about the legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. How much did you know about the sport and Ayrton before being cast on the show?

Being half Brazilian, I actually knew quite a lot about Senna. He is a hero to many Brazilians and actually my first memory of going to the cinema was to watch the incredible documentary about his life in Camden Town here in London. Brazilians inside the movie theatre were all so passionate throughout the movie, they were screaming at the screen, they were crying openly, they were hugging each other, they were celebrating, they were dancing. It was this incredible display of raw emotion, excitement for life, celebration and open sadness that really helped understand that side of my culture. 

I didn’t know too much about Formula 1, but in preparation for the role, I did quite a lot of research and actually ended up getting quite into it. It’s a really interesting sport and you know the drivers are absolute athletes. It was really quite cool to learn about that and also the journalistic side of it and how it’s reported and how much travel is involved. I think that was all really important for me to know for my character. 


The series was filmed in his native Brazil, in collaboration with his family. What stood out to you the most about his legacy and the memories that will forever remain?

The series was filmed in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, which was incredible, but with a predominantly Brazilian production crew, which is really beautiful for me and something that I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. I also got to meet some of the members of Senna’s family. They were very heavily involved, which was great because we had direct access to information about him, the different periods in his life and who he was as a person. 

The memories of him will live on continuously in Brazil and it’s really powerful to be a part of something that still resonates with so many people. There’d be times where even the caterers or the drivers were crying, watching us film certain scenes and that’s really special and quite rare and very unique to Brazilian people. He is truly still a hero to them and very much so rightlfully. 

You started acting at the age of 14 when you were cast in series ‘Skins’. How do you look back on this first role of yours and your development as an artist since then?

Looking back now, I was a complete baby when I started ‘Skins’. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was so young and for me, it was just my dream job. I dreamed about acting since I was much younger than that, but I thought it was unattainable for me. I thought you had to come from a very wealthy, connected family or you had to have purely English parents. It was something that I saw as out of reach for me and when I got the part on ‘Skins’, it was a dream come true. 

When I look back on it, that first role, the memories are all overwhelmingly positive. It wasn’t perfect, we were very young, and I’m really proud that nowadays in the industry there’s a lot more safeguarding in place for shows where teenagers are having sex or doing drugs and things like that. There are people you can go talk to to make sure you’re safe. But the overwhelming memory for me of that time is the friendships that I’ve made and that I continue to have til this day. We were so bonded because we were teenagers and we were all doing this crazy job that we had no idea was going to be successful. We were just really happy to be there and we spent the summer filming scenes and hanging out in the hotel aterwards and talking. It was before social media, no one was on their phones. Between breaks and filming, we were always hanging out together and I’ve kind of never had that on a job since, so that that to me is the most beautiful memory that I have from that time. 

From an artistic point of view, I was really lucky in that Effy didn’t really speak in the first two seasons, so I got to observe. I focused on watching the other actors and learning from them, especially the older actors playing our parents. Being in a position to spend 12 hours a day watching them do their work really taught me a lot and taught me about professionalism, how to behave on a set, how to be taken seriously and how to push yourself. And that’s something that I’ve tried to develop more and more over the last 17 years. 

dress & boots GIVENCHY

Who is your biggest inspiration in the industry and why?

I have lots of inspirations in the industry. Anytime I see a woman create something from start to finish, it makes me feel empowered. I think what Margot Robbie is doing with her production company is incredible and will hopefully pave the way for more women to feel as though they can be in those positions of power and control when it comes to their art. There’s many actors that I admire, it’s also important to me that I admire them as a person. If I don’t know them as a person, I can’t admire their work. So for me, my biggest inspirations are my counterparts, like Nicholas Hoult, Daniel Kaluuya and Joe Dempsie, because I know them as people and I know that they’re good, kind, hard working and that their work shows that. Their work is so enjoyable to watch because they know how to find that balance between being an artist and giving everything into your role. 

‘The Gentlemen’ premiere marks quite a moment for you as you haven’t done much press in a while. What are you most excited for about this press tour?

I’m really enjoying the press tour and I’m working with an incredible stylist, Jenny Kennedy, who’s really understood me from day one and we’ve kind of been playful with it. I took inspiration from Margot Robbie’s ‘Barbie’ press tour, where she kind of really leans into the character and plays up to it, but in a fashion sense. We’ve done that with Susie Glass’ images, we keep it a bit gangster, a bit cool, a bit flashy and elevating it all. It’s been really fun to get to explore styling creatively and we’re using a lot of dark shades to fit in with that mysterious aura that she has. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. 

coat, trousers, & boots GIVENCHY

Besides the upcoming release of ‘Senna’, what other projects are you currently wotking on that you can share with us?

I’m having a little break at the moment because I flew to Argentina to shoot ‘Senna’ the day after I wrapped on ‘The Gentlemen’, so I’ve been working for 18 months non-stop. That’s incredible and amazing, but I want to spend a little bit of time at home. I want to unpack a suitcase properly, I want to cook some dinners, I want to hang out with my friends so I can have a little bit of normal life, and then I’m focused on finding material, finding some writers, finding some up and coming directors and bringing them together. I want to move into the space of producing. I’ve had 17 years of experience of being on sets now and I want to utilise that. I want to be part of the creative process from the very beginning through to the end. That’s kind of what I’m keeping my eye out for at the moment, some interesting, cool female stories to tell. 

stylist OLGA TIMOFEJEVA at The Only Agency
makeup KENNETH SOH @kennethsohmakeup
styling assistant LINDA HOUTSONEN
editorial director & interview JANA LETONJA