The Version Interview... Ophelia Lovibond on Sky 1's Hooten and the Lady
Ophelia Lovibond made her film debut in Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist in 2005, the very same year she appeared in Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker’s prescient cult comedy Nathan Barley. Since then, she has made her mark in Hollywood with roles in Mr Popper’s Penguins, No Strings Attached and Guardians of the Galaxy. On the small screen she has starred in a host of hits, including Sky Atlantic comedy Mr Sloane alongside Nick Frost, Sky Living’s hugely popular US import Elementary and acclaimed BBC mockumentary W1A.
How would you describe the series?
The show is an adventure drama. It’s quite nostalgic in its tone but it’s contemporary and has a big feel to it. It doesn’t feel like a TV show. It’s extremely ambitious and takes you all around the world to places you might not have been to before. It has a Romancing the Stone feel to it but it has lots of action. There’s a lot of energy but there’s real jeopardy in there as well because you really care about these characters.
What can you tell us about your character?
My character, Lady Alexandra, works for the British Museum. She ends up meeting Hooten, which puts her in situations she’s never been in before. And she finds out she’s hardier than she thought. You see her evolving and her confidence in her opinions spreads to confidence in her own choices.
What’s the dynamic like between Lady Alex and Hooten?
They’re completely different creatures. She believes he’s reckless and irresponsible. She’s meticulous and quite pedantic and that’s where the humour comes from. They often have the same objective – getting hold of a lost item – but they go about it in completely different ways. There is merit to both of their approaches but both need touches of each other’s methods. She doesn’t trust him as far as she can throw him but she needs him just as he needs her. They begrudgingly learn to trust each other because they’ve been on these epic adventures.
Did you get to visit any exotic locations while filming the series?
It was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the filming experience. You read the script and see that part of it is set in Cambodia and you just assume you’re obviously not going to go there. And then they say you need to get your jabs because you’re actually going! I went to Cambodia early to explore and visited Siem Reap. It’s just incredible, it really is just magical. We also went to Moscow and filmed all over South Africa, including a sub-tropical jungle in KwaZulu-Natal.
Did you have a lot of fun on set?
We would be in the most bonkers places – on cliff edges, by waterfalls – and the crew were brilliant. They were on cranes, building platforms over ravines. They just made it happen. You can imagine what things will be like when you read the script but when you actually arrive on set you realise they’ve built this entire world. It was an intense shoot but it was fun because of where we were.
Why should viewers tune in to the show?
Because it is so different from anything you’ve seen before. It takes you away on these adventures. The unlikely duo is entertaining – the back and forth – the rat-a-tat rapport. Then you’ve got helicopters, explosions, hot air balloons, rhinos and snakes. But it’s the relationship between them in those ridiculous situations that makes it different. It’s not just an adventure show and it’s not just an unlikely relationship, it’s a combination of things.
And it’s filmed on such an epic scale too isn't it?
A massive part of the appeal is that we actually went to those locations rather than being in a studio. The locations are as much a character as Hooten and Lady Alex. There are many shows that are full on, but this one doesn’t have murder and monsters, it’s uplifting. My brother can watch and so will my mum. The whole family can enjoy it.
Hooten and the Lady starts tonight, 9pm on Sky 1.