Sarah Lancashire has revealed she turned down requests to make her portrayal of celebrity chef Julia Child more comedic.
The Happy Valley star portrays Child in an eight-part series exploring how she launched The French Chef on a local American TV channel – an influential program widely regarded as the first modern cooking show.
While Julia, which airs on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK, is billed as a comedy-drama, Lancashire told RadioTimes.com and other outlets she’s never seen it as such.
“When I approached this, I never approached it as a comedy,” she began. “I wasn’t convinced it was a comedy, to be perfectly honest. I thought, ‘If anybody wants to treat it like a comedy, they can do it…I’m just going to do my Julia Child the only way I know how.’
“And maybe it was a degree of fear or insecurity, but I just had to hold on to whatever I knew in terms of character development.”
Although she never became particularly famous in the UK, Child was – and remains to this day – a household name across the United States, delighting legions of fans with her warm presentation style and sense of character. sharp humour.
But while she was undoubtedly witty, Lancashire didn’t want to turn her into a joke character, which is why she was adamantly opposed to amplifying the more eccentric aspects of her behavior.
She continued: “From time to time I was asked to take it a little higher and I always resisted. I always said “No, absolutely not”. I think she’s a woman who could very easily be ridiculed for her exuberance, but you don’t have to do that. It wasn’t necessary to do that.
“And I think there’s an awful lot of stuff…where we see the Julia that’s away from the cameras, the Julia that’s not on, and that’s just as important. And I hope there’s a good balance between the two.”
While the BAFTA-winning Last Tango in Halifax star has no shortage of fans in the UK, it remains to be seen whether UK viewers will engage with Julia given the relative unfamiliarity of her subject matter.
However, Lancashire argued that the lack of knowledge she had of Julia Child before taking the role actually helped the performance she ultimately gave.
She added: “I think it’s a little easier that I didn’t grow up with Julia, that I don’t have that legacy on my shoulder. That it wasn’t part of popular culture in the UK and therefore wasn’t part of common parlance for me. I think it was a bit liberating, in a way.”
Julia will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW on Tuesday 12 April 2022 – subscribe to Sky TV here. Check out more of our drama coverage or visit our TV guide to see what’s on tonight.
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