Former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire plays Nelly Dean in this star-studded adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights with Charlotte Riley and Tom Hardy
What attracted you to the role of Nelly?
“I thought the drama was perfectly executed and beautifully written by Peter Bowker. I’d worked with the director Coky Giedroyc before on Oliver Twist and I really wanted another opportunity to work with her again.”
What’s different about this adaptation?
“In some of the previous adaptations they don’t follow the second generation but we do in Peter’s and I really liked the fact he had included this within his scripts.”
Were you familiar with the story before filming?
“I’d seen the 1939 films starring Laurence Olivier and knew the book so I was aware of the characters – in particular Heathcliff and Cathy, as they are at the forefront of this story.”
Did you refer to the book while preparing for the part?
“In order to ensure the full context of the story was correct I needed to look at the narrative of the book. Wuthering Heights is such an epic story, brilliantly engineered by Peter, and condensed into two 90-minute films.”
What’s Nelly like?
“Fundamentally, Nelly is the go-between for Cathy and Heathcliff and she feels terribly protective of them. What we don’t see in our adaptation, but is written in the book, is that Nelly grew up with Cathy. The two of them almost have a sibling relationship separated by their status. Nelly also raised Heathcliff so she has maternal feelings towards them both.”
Does Nelly have any influence on Cathy and Heathcliff?
“I don’t think Nelly has any influence or control over how they feel for each other. Brutally bound by her status in life, Nelly is incapable of intervening to prevent their relationship. All she can do is stand back from it all.”
Did filming on the Yorkshire Moors add to the passion of the story?
“The landscape is another character in its own right and there’s nothing else quite like it. It can look incredibly beautiful, but then in a matter of hours be very bleak which in a way reflects on Heathcliff and Cathy’s relationship.”
It’s a fantastic cast; did you enjoy working with everyone?
“It’s a tremendous cast. I feel really privileged to have worked with them all on such a wonderful adaptation. In my opinion Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley are sensational as Cathy and Heathcliff.”
Wuthering Heights is shown on Sunday August 30 and Monday September 1 at 9pm on ITV1