Jemima Kirke On ‘Conversations With Friends’ — Interview – SheKnows

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Warning: Spoilers for Chat with friends front.

There’s a moment in the first few pages of Sally Rooney Chat with friends when Trinity College student Frances, 21, observed “who knows what happens between two people when they’re alone.” It is that very concept that comes to define what audiences see about the marriage of Nick (Joe Alwyn) and Melissa (Jemima Kirke) in the Hulu and BBC best-selling book adaptation. SheKnows chatted with Girls alum Kirke on the challenge of exploring Nick and Melissa’s marriage and relationship, given the limited perspective from which the story is told, and the actress has a lot to say about how she fills those gaps. .

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“My reaction to the material was, okay, this is going to be a challenge, not necessarily the role, but the whole story,” Kirke tells us of her initial reaction to the show. novel by Rooney, who also penned it Normal person (received a small screen adaptation in 2020). Chat with friends is told from the perspective of Frances, a college student who is romantically involved with a married man named Nick. The book, and follow-up series, explores the complexity and intimacy of Frances’ relationships with Nick, Melissa, and her longtime friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Sasha Lane).

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Jemima Kirke as Melissa, Joe Alwyn as Nick in ‘Chatting With Friends’
Enda Bowe / Hulu.

Kirke artistically describes how she used original material to bring her character Melissa to life.

“It reminds me of portrait painting… I don’t paint something to be realistic or look like the object itself. I’m drawing it to make it more like the object than the object… I guess the problem is, I’m trying to create something out of the ordinary. And I think that’s the point with all the material in this, that everything is pretty normal. We had a very spicy and spicy narrative, but most of it was pretty mundane. And so the challenge is to make every moment matter and make it matter.”

For making the extraordinary ordinary, Kirke does it. Her performance as Melissa in the UK drama is a combination of disappointment, sadness, betrayal and hope that can only be evoked by the unique circumstances in which she finds herself. Having had an affair herself, Melissa couldn’t see any other appeal to Nick’s extramarital affair than simply letting it happen. At one point in the story, Melissa confronts Frances, expressing her pain so bluntly that it’s almost cruel when she finally admits that Nick’s love affair with Frances is really making her sad. Their marriage is better.

Given the dim perspective in which this story plays out, we don’t have the honor of seeing how this marriage began – and why Nick and Melissa are still together, something Kirke had to draw for himself. picture. “My biggest question with this role is why are Nick and Melissa together? What would keep them together if they had lost their marriage – really the connection? I had to write some about that. It was a pretty clear stream of consciousness,” she revealed, referencing the writing practice she used to prepare for the role.

As such, seeing Nick and Melissa together – from the curious gaze of a 21-year-old schoolboy whose madness, innocence and latent innocence clash with the highly complex circumstances of relationships. mature – never come true. All we see is through the observation of Frances’ eyes. “I wish their private lives could be explored – what they are like when they are alone together. I would love to see that. That’s something I’ve thought about a lot and asked a lot of questions. I filled in the blanks and I thought it was impossible for this 21-year-old girl who knows nothing about them and is in love with this husband to have an accurate view of their relationship,” shared Kirke.

But considering Nick and Melissa’s relationship, it’s complicated even though that’s when we find them at the top Chat with friends, Kirke believes there is a real, real connection between the couple, hinted often but never seen. “I didn’t believe they had nothing – that the passion for each other was dead. But it also cannot be put on public display to Nick for his own reasons and for his obvious reasons,” shared Kirke.

“As for Melissa, I think she’s just being very careful with him because she’s on thin ice, because of the relationship, and just doesn’t want to cross the line, it’s just a real place. sadness, difficulty in a partner when you feel like you are auditioning. “

Chat with friends premieres Sunday, May 15, on Hulu.

Before you go, click here for more TV shows and stories about broken marriages.
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