Anne Day-Jones Talks Acting, Theatre, Film and Henry

by Kiki

Published Sunday, 08/24/2014.

Day-Jones-AnneThree years ago she played Aethra, Theseus’ mother in Tarsem Singh’s ‘Immortals’, but Anne Day-Jones is busy these days working on her own film script ‘Language’ with plans to bring it into production later this year or early 2015.  After completing a list of voice work recently including her latest narration of Ned Hayes’ ‘Sinful Folk’ (a medieval mystery), Anne graciously took time out of her busy schedule to open up to about her start as an actor, her experience in both theatre and film and, of course, about working with Henry:


HCOC:  IMDB lists you as being from Boston, MA.  There are several well-known actors and filmmakers from that area.  What is it about that area that lends itself to acting and filmmaking?

Day-Jones: Although I was born in Boston, within a year my family had moved to London, England (my father is English) and that’s where I grew up and did all my schooling and theatre training. I love the Boston accent but can’t do it to save my life!


HCOC: What inspired you to get into acting and at what age did you start your career?

Day-Jones: When I left school I had no idea at all what I wanted to be. I went to live in Rome for a year and ran through all my savings (happy times) so when I came back was in desperate need of a job and found a job ushering at the National Theatre (Royal National Theatre now). I’d never considered acting as a career before then. I was at the National for a couple of years and did some scene painting and worked as a dresser as well at a time when Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Rylance, Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) were part of the company. It was a wonderful and exciting time for me, I watched plays 30-40 times and finally realised that was what I wanted to do. I didn’t begin auditioning for drama school until quite late – about 25 I think.


HCOC: You have an extensive array of Film/Television work as well as Theatre work. Which do you prefer more: being in front of the camera or taking the stage and why?  What was your favorite production?

Day-Jones: My first training was in theatre, which I really love because of the contact with the audience, the sense of all being together within a story. One of my favourite productions was The Blue Room at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, with a lovely and very talented actor called Jonathan Watton. It was very challenging – 2 people on stage all the time, 5 or 6 different costumes, and stage nudity which was a first for me! But it’s a beautiful play. In Winnipeg I also did a production of Richard III with William Hurt in the title role. That was a huge production and I loved the grandeur and spectacle. I’ve actually come to prefer film however because of the intensity and intimacy of the process.The camera’s right there and you don’t have to project out at all, you can just live it.


HCOC: What have you learned from the actors and directors that you have worked with throughout your career? What is the best advice you have received?

Day-Jones: William Hurt told me that there aren’t ‘key’ scenes for actors in movies. Every scene is key. His work ethic is extraordinary. Tarsem Singh (Immortals) was a joy to work with as a director. He’s generous and warm to actors. I’d love to work with him again.


HCOC: When you so graciously granted us the opportunity to interview you, you mentioned you loved working with Henry. Can you elaborate and explain why you enjoyed working with him?

Day-Jones: I did love working with Henry. He has an unusual combination of irreverance and respect and joking around and seriousness which is a real joy to be around.


HCOC: What did you notice about Henry’s acting technique and style during rehearsals?  Once the cameras were rolling, did anything stand out to you about his performance?

Day-Jones: Henry used the rehearsal time to make sure the lines were working for him. He was very much creating the scenes along with Tarsem and the writers. And then when it came time to shoot he was relaxed but extremely focused. Henry worked so hard on that film – insanely long days over a very long period of time, with intense physical training and continual rehearsing of all the fight scenes alongside the shooting of the film. Actors are known for loving to complain – Henry didn’t complain and he must have been exhausted. He really took on the mantle of responsibility for the film and got on with it. I admired that very much.


HCOC: Do you have a particular on set moment with Henry that you can share with us?

Day-Jones: I had a very tricky scene (which not surprisingly wasn’t in the final film) with Henry and me preparing to leave the village. I was supposed to cry – I think it was Day 1 of the entire shoot and I was just so nervous. We did several takes of the scene and Henry was totally present with me as I struggled away. Afterwards I said “thank you thank you”. He said “What are you talking about? You did it” I was so grateful to him for his presence and generosity that day. Otherwise just a lot of jokes…!


HCOC: Have you kept in touch with any of the Immortals cast and crew?

Day-Jones: Immediately after Immortals I shot Moth Diaries with Sarah Bolger who knew Henry very well as she’s worked with him on The Tudors. So I got to be both their mothers. I guess I could be Sarah’s mother agewise – for Immortals there was a whole first section which was cut from the final version where I was young and Theseus was young (played by Robert Naylor). I had to have hours of ageing make up for the scenes with Henry – would have been nice to see myself young on screen! I continue to bump into people from that production all the time – it was huge!