Even back then, women had the same pressures. They had to be married and bear children by a set age, and if they didn’t, they were looked upon as if something was wrong with them. There’s that relatability of those themes, which I think when we go back to the period films, we can say not much has changed. We relate to it immediately, going, oh my god, this has been going on forever. And that is why we root for strong female characters. And that is why in this film, it was so important for me that Julia and Selena are not 18-year-olds. We were playing older women who had been around a bunch of seasons and had not found a match.
One feels the pressure of being jilted in public, and the other one feels the pressure of being the oldest of many kids and needing to find someone to marry so that she can have a better future for her, for her siblings. All of those pressures again, are very relatable.
And then of course, last, but not least, it’s the glamour of that time as well. The corsets, the ballroom, the feathers, the bonnets, the gorgeous strapping men on their horses. All of it is very fantastical, you fantasize about it. So I do believe there is a charm to these period movies that is almost never going to die. As much as we innovate, the core of it is still going to be an escape to a time that was different from the time that we live in now.
You burst onto the scene with Slumdog Millionaire. Since then, you’ve spoken in previous interviews about maybe being dissatisfied with some of your past roles, ones that weren’t as substantive as you wanted them to be. How are you feeling about the way your career has evolved over the years?
Yeah, and I think those roles that I played right after Slumdog Millionaire, I did not necessarily feel that I was given something to really play that was worth my time and I could really stretch my acting chops [with]. I think those were all roles that I had to play in order to realize and recognize the kind of roles I don’t wanna play again. And there’s no other way of knowing when you’re a newcomer in the industry, you kind of have to do it all—especially when you’re a newcomer and a minority at the same time, where people don’t exactly know what to do with you, or what kind of role to place you in. So they constantly send you the more stereotypical, exotic roles and you look at it and you barf and you go, okay, I guess I’ve gotta do this one just because I’ve gotta make money or, yeah, I’ve gotta do this one just because I want exposure.
And I think everything in the end pays off. So I look back at those roles and I go, am I necessarily proud of my performance in this? Or, you know, am I proud of what I did? And I think the answer is that I’m not proud, but I’m really glad I did them because now, the work that I do, the pride that I feel and every little thing that I put in a big role or a small role is so huge because the choice was entirely mine. I really do see them as little learning curves, stepping stone experiences.