IN CONVERSATION WITH REBECCA FERGUSON
REBECCA FERGUSON first caught the attention of international audiences playing the iconic QueenElizabeth in the BBC/Starz series THE WHITE QUEEN for which she was nominated for a Golden GlobeAward. This summer, she returned to the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise in the highly anticipated MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE. Next up, we’ll see her reprising her role as Lady Jessica Atreides in DUNE: PART TWO, which is set to be released in March 2024.
This summer, you starred in the very successful MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE. How has it been returning to the franchise after all these years?
It’s always wonderful and exciting. I’ve been a part of this journey now for 10 years, for three films and there are different aspects of filming it. You’re pre-filming as you are prepping, you’re getting ready, you’re training, you’re living MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. Then it’s the filming, which is wonderful, tiring, exhausting and exhilarating. And then there’s a long pause before you get to relive all of those feelings when you start promoting it. I’m excited for the fans to see it, being a huge MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE fan, but it’s also such a lovely feeling to be reminded of the journey that you’ve had because in my mind, I’m filming other things, I’m busy doing other things, so I get to sort of defibrillate those emotions again, which is just wonderful.
What do you love most about this franchise and action movies in general?
I really love building the world prior to shooting, understanding the character, getting into it. I love the training. I am fortunate to be surrounded by the best of the best when it comes to either learning to hold my breath, deep diving, jumping off a roof, martial arts, gun fighting. It is such a weird world to be thrown into, cause it’s not my world, it’s not what I do on a weekend. And the travel is a treat.
International audiences got to know you for your role as the iconic Queen Elizabeth in THE WHITE QUEEN. How do you look back on this role?
When I was offered the role, it was such an overwhelming moment because it happened so fast. It took years to process what had happened. The process of casting took months. I remember going in and then them not calling me back and thinking that I didn’t get it. Then they called me back again three times, put me in a hotel room and then all of a sudden I got a phone call at nine in the morning and they were like ‘You’ve got the role. We’re going to color your hair. We’re going to have a table read with all the actors and you’re moving to Brugesin two days’.
I kind of work well with such pressure, but it takes time to sit down and take in what just happened. When I was receiving award nominations and I was in the room with all of the people who I look up to, I just thought ‘I don’t belong here. Am I where I should be? ‘It’s a slow domino effect of realizing how lucky I am. And today I sometimes think it was insane when that happened.
Would you describe the role of Queen Elizabeth as the role that set the tone for the future of your career?
Yes, definitely. I remember in the beginning thinking MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE was what set the tone. It’s always sort of back tracing, always wanting to give praise to all the opportunities that I’ve been a part of. But it is obviously what would help my career get to the level it is today. And also it’s the fact that you’ve been given that possibility. I am going to give myself a pat on the back today. I grabbed it and I ran with it. I did what I could with the opportunity at hand. It’s not just sitting back and being grateful, it is working with what you have been handed as well.
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boots PARIS TEXAS
Since THE WHITE QUEEN, you’ve starred in many big productions and have become one of the leading ladies in the industry. How do you personally feel about this ‘title’?
It is so funny, I was having a conversation with my husband this morning at breakfast, where we were talking about our lives and what we’re missing and what we long for. You said to me that I’m one of the leading ladies in the industry. And I think I do not identify as that. I feel very lucky with the roles that I’m offered, but I always seek further and am thinking ‘Why am I not getting the indie movies? Why am I not being offered this? I should create this myself. I need to open this world for myself. I’m missing things here.’ It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for where I am, but I very rarely stand still. I am constantly moving and aspiring to do new things. Iprobably need to learn to sit back and think about how well I’m doing, grab the family and have time off as well.
This November we’ll be seeing you reprise your role in DUNE: PART TWO. What can you share with us about this sequel?
I’m so ridiculously excited for it to come out. Everything that I have seen, the little clips when I’ve done additional dialogue recording, is phenomenal, it’s extraordinary. When we have to do some additional dialogue recordings we go into studio, so we get to see some footage. Greig Fraser has taken this film to other levels when it comes to cinematography. I don’t like lifting one role over the other, but I have to say the new characters that have come in, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, they are mind-blowing. It’s gritty and gory and Jacqueline West’s costumes and Donald Mowat’s makeup, they win every prize in my book.
How is it working in such an all star ensamble, with such big names from the industry?
I don’t value a film that I do because it is ejected with so much fame more than I do a film that has less. What I do like is meeting people who are inspiring and kind and fun. And being on a set with a lot of actors gives you the possibility to merge and to share anecdotes and stories with them if they’re open for it. You might not click with everyone, but I’m lucky enough that I did with everyone on DUNE. My point is, it doesn’t matter how famous people are or how big things are.
Before you got into acting, you had been dancing since an early age. How did your acting career actually come about?
I wasn’t a dancer, but I loved moving. My mother raised me to try things out. I did ballet, tap, dance, street, funk, jazz. I did a bridge course with four 70-year old ladies when I was 14 or 13 because I was very good at counting cards. I did basketball, gymnastics. There’s nothing I haven’t tried. And I think that open-mindedness always helped me in the world of acting. I’m never scared of trying things. I was never worried of making a foolout of myself. I’m not too worried as a person. I have always been a person of leisure in a sense that I ride the wave, I ride what is interesting for me at the moment.
I’ve never been eager to prove myself at something specific. I am a person who is not pushing myself down, but I think I was always just good enough and I never pushed that extra mile. Like, I was an Argentinian tango teacher. I was good, I wasn’t great. I didn’t go the extra mile. Acting I think is the only thing where I’ve just thrown myself in full-heartedly.
dress TOM FORD
What challenges you the most about acting?
When I was little, my morning routine and my mom’s was putting classical music on, usually Mozart. Cause she thinks that’s a good morning start for the brain. We would have a cup of tea and then we would do three card games. One was poker. We would play poker with matches and every time I was given a new hand, I was excited to see what the cards were going to be. Even to this day when I play cards, turning out my first turn of five hands or five cards is exciting.
That’s what I feel about acting. The first time I get to walk into costume and see how they’re thinking, the first time I walk onto set to see how the set designers have done their job, meeting the actors, every moment with acting is a new hand dealt. That’s what I love a lot. Life between people is a constant dance, give and take.
You are also a mom. How hard is it being on set and balancing your career with your family life?
The privacy of life is so wonderful and I think what I have managed to do is to maintain it. This means there’s scheduling, there’s structure. Me and my family, we’ve found a really good formula to how it works. Life is life for everyone. It’s constant scheduling, whether you have a nine to five job or you work traveling the world.
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pants LOUIS VUITTON
Rebecca, which moment would you describe as the most defining moment of your life so far?
I think it’s the moment when I was offered the role in THE WHITE QUEEN. It took me out of my security blanket of Sweden. And it’s not that I was seeking to leave Sweden, but it opened up an entirely new world for me. Being given the lead in this BBC drama, a world that I could not even imagine what it would be like, and living abroad for so long created a new vision for me and why I kept on going. Before that, I wasn’t sure I was going to act. I’d done a Swedish film called A ONE-WAY TRIP TO ANTIBES, which I loved, but that was the only film I’d really done. So the role of Queen Elizabeth was a defining moment that my career was probably going to go in this direction.
THIS PHOTOSHOOT AND INTERVIEW WERE CONDUCTED BEFORE THE SAG-AFTRA STRIKE
talent REBECCA FERGUSON @officialrebeccaferguson
photography JACK WATERLOT @jackwaterlotstudio
styling CHRISTIAN STROBLE @christianstroble
photography assistance ALEC NGUYEN & GARRISON HERBST @alecwinnn @temporaryplaceholding
market editor GAIA KHATCHADOURIAN @gaiakhat
styling assistance CARMEN JULIA @carmenjuliadg
makeup artist TYRON MACHHAUSEN @tyronmachhausen
hair artist BLAKE ERIK @blakeerik
nail artist SARAH NGUYEN @chrmdbysarah
editor TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja
interview JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffzen