Lucy Punch Interview: ‘I moved to the USA because I kept getting cast in the roles of classy idiots’

Lucy Punch is horrifying. “My God, imagine the protests!” she exclaimed, her mouth curling into mocking outrage. “People would throw cakes at me. I’ll get a cappuccino in the face. ” We are talking about a hypothetical UK release of Prince, her animated sitcom caused outrage in the tabloids this year. It was inspired by the royal family, and she voiced our future queen. “I was never told to impress Kate Middleton,” she insisted, drawing syllables like a troublemaker being dragged into the principal’s office. “It’s just a silly character. It was really unfortunate timing. It was shown in the US just a few months after Prince Philip’s death, amid the peak of sympathy hysteria for the royal family. “Maybe they should have waited until the Epstein trial, when people said: ‘We hate them again!’”

This is the only time in our conversation that the friendly, bubbly Punch sounds like one of her characters. In her new movie Quiet nightand, well, pretty much everything she’s into, the 43-year-old throws humorous grenades with a Cheshire Cat grin. Luxurious chaos is her currency. The type of woman she tends to play – Cameron Diaz’s well-known opponent in Bad teacher; The head of the head was cut off by the side of the road inside Hot Fuzz; CountrysideAmanda’s, aka the Gestapo a woman at the school gate – are otherworldly creatures allergic to ingenuity and boundaries.

“I’ve played a lot of ugly stepmothers,” boasted Punch from the Hampstead house she was brought into while filming the second series of her comedy Bizarre Sky. Blood. She doesn’t talk much while smiling brightly, her blonde hair flowing, Stevie Nicks flowing and her voice so precise you’d never know she’s lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. Over Zoom, she stares at the living room ceiling, wondering why she likes to play terrible guys. “Complacency, complacency and ego with great insecurity,” she said. “They make for an interesting mix. I’ve always liked people who just took the odd side. Not to be friends, of course, but just to observe.”

Punch, traditionally, steals the show in Quiet night. She plays Bella, one of a bunch of petty thieves who make money – Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Annabelle Wallis were among the rest – who had descended to a pile of country for Christmas. So far, so has Richard Curtis. Then, as if Charlie Brooker had suddenly hijacked the script, they began to tell the disordered elephant in the room: a toxic mist was lurking toward England, the apocalypse had come, and all are all planning to commit suicide on Gift Day.

“I’ve seen Road, it’s not like I live like that,” Bella insisted. “I can’t do post-apocalyptic monochrome.” Punch plays her as a female killer in a chic power suit, her low voice landing somewhere between Patsy from AbFab and a rich girl is dying from consumption.

“She’s a very old, sober character who says things that are really inappropriate,” explains Punch with glee. “Some kind of broken water heater.” Bella’s plight also confused at least one person. A few days before our call, Punch gave an interview to an American journalist who asked her what it was like to play the film’s “single low-class character”. She rehearsed her answer, her elastic features turning into a kind of glee. “Eventually I realized, ‘Oh, you’re saying that because she has no money!’ And that’s a big difference in terms of the class system there. In the US, caste is completely based on how much money you have. And even [in Silent Night], you’ve got all these very special characters, Americans don’t think Bella is one of them. But she’s very, very upper-class. She just happened to spend all of her ancestors’ money. “

Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Lucy Punch, Keira Knightley, Annabelle Wallis and Matthew Goode in ‘Silent Night’

(Pitch / Robert Viglasky)

Punch says she feels “a bit removed from everywhere,” even as she calls LA home for most of the year. It’s where she owns a home, and where she and her partner raise their six-year-old son, but she’s still caught up in the rhythms of the country. She speaks excellent English, so lovely that it’s no surprise. “The auditions there were brutal,” she said. “It’s very: ‘Just do it, then get out.’ It’s disrespectful. Here, it’s a much simpler, friendlier process. You come in for a cup of tea and talk about yourself. There, no one cares. You’re just sitting in a room with 10 people who look vaguely like you. “

I never understood actors who wanted to play ‘strong women’ roles. Because you can be strong and you can also be terrible

Before moving to the US, Punch worked as an actress since she was a teenager, appearing in The Midsomers Murders, Doc Martin and Nickelodeon’s Renford refused. She had a private education – at the Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith – and I wondered if she would ever run into the kinds of people she used to play with. “Oh, hang out with all my noble friends, you mean?” she joked. “I have certainly met a lot of people, but overall I find the British class system very interesting. Here [as opposed to in the States], you can’t get out of it. All caste systems are disgusting, but I love that you can change yours there. ”

After training at the National Youth Theatre, Punch was repeatedly accepted as an actor, but the jobs themselves became tedious. “I moved to the United States because I kept getting roles of classy idiots. I said: ‘This is boring. I know I can do more than that. ” Class which people predict will be You. Not so, but Punch decided to develop it in the US anyway. “I ended up working a lot and with an American accent,” she recalls. “People will judge me [in the UK] that I’m the vertigo type, because of the way I talk. But I’m not that person at all.” She played a great oral sex agent in a Woody Allen movie – it wasn’t much fun otherwise. You will meet a tall stranger – and offers suddenly poured in. She is a nymphomaniac wrestler (in Dinner for fools), an evil mob (in Go to the forest), and a gluttonous superhero (in Netflix’s A series of unfortunate events). So no more posh idiots. Instead of, replace? “I’m often, you know, a plush bitch.” That is progress. Sort.

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She notes the irony that, just as she bought a house in LA after years of renting, the UK has made her more famous than ever. Countryside – which wrapped up its third series on BBC Two last summer – is a humorous snapshot of middle-class, Mumsnet-era parenting, with Punch’s breakout star. She is amazingly domineering, and a master of luxurious passive aggression. Fans tend to get scared when they spot Punch on the street. “I had a few moments where people looked worried about me,” she recalls. “I was there like: ‘I’m really not that person! I promise!'”

In general, however, she is more comfortable with the strange feeling of being seen than she was before. She remembers driving the bus with her face right after starting work Classand had a mild panic attack. “This sounds weird and pathetic, but I feel so embarrassed, tearful, and exposed when I see my face—” (she lifts her nostrils and sticks out her front teeth, like a chipmunk). “I can’t stand it.” Right in that time Bad teacher When she debuted, she was pushed into hiring an advertising journalist, but dropped them a few “awkward” magazine shoots later. “My partner says that I am a shy person to show off. Interviews are also quirky and reveal things about yourself. I don’t mind talking about my work, but people who talk about very personal things I would say: ‘Why are you sharing that?’

Lucy Punch in ‘Motherland’

(BBC / German)

Plus, sometimes you can get too caught up in someone’s worldview. I refer to Graham Linehan, co-creator Countryside with his then-wife Helen Serafinowicz before leaving the series. Today, his name is not so much associated with his avant-garde comedy – Father Ted, Brass eyes, Quick program – like his views on transgender women, and in relation to his Twitter suspension for “hateful behaviour”. Punch grimaced. “It’s sad,” she said. “And he just disappeared on the show and it was really never talked about. When we did the pilot, I said: ‘I can’t believe I’m working with Graham!’ He’s so excellent. He is still excellent. But, yeah, it was like…” She sighed. “You have to keep some things. Put down the tube, people, shut up. You can really thrive on it. “

She is happy with her current level of popularity, where people seem to recognize her face from something or another, but rarely know her real name. That could change, however, if any of the self-produced projects she’s working on come to fruition. She’s pretty tight-lipped about specifics, but she’s constantly recommending dark comedies to production companies. She explained, “I love characters who are not necessarily likable, or have a lot of flaws. “I never understood actors who wanted to play ‘strong women’ roles. Because you can be strong and you can also be terrible. You can be a lot more complicated than that.”

Maybe she will lighten up? Or try to do something a little more conventional? “It would be nice to play a sweeter character,” she said. But as she mulled over the idea, she seemed to be turned off by it. “However, I think I’m always looking for flaws. Or a little ugly, because that’s always funnier. That is always true.” She looked up at the ceiling again. “Otherwise it’s just boring, isn’t it?”

‘Silent Night’ is now in cinemas and will be released at home via Altitude on December 6

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/lucy-punch-interview-silent-night-b1966805.html Lucy Punch Interview: ‘I moved to the USA because I kept getting cast in the roles of classy idiots’

Emma Bowman

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