What to Watch

What to Watch With Belgravia Star Alice Eve

When she's not causing trouble in Julian Fellowes' new series, the British actress enjoys serious dramas and light comedies.

by | April 10, 2020 | Comments

Alice Eve at the "Belgravia" Press Conference, March 1, 2020, in London

(Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

To know the works of Julian Fellowes, such as Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, is to believe that the worst thing that could happen to British aristocratic society of a certain era is a bored rich woman.

Enter Susan Trenchard of the new Epix miniseries, Belgravia. Played by Alice Eve in Fellowes’ adaptation of his own novel, Susan is a ladder-climber who is able to suss out a situation with a twitching cat-like eye for how it will best benefit her. Married to the entitled and uninspiring Oliver Trenchard (Richard Goulding), Susan yearns for any kind of excitement or purpose and considers any slight – such as her mother-in-law Anne (Tamsin Greig) neglecting to make her a plus-one at the afternoon tea hosted by a lady of higher standing – to be the utmost form of disrespect.

Her role in the lavish period-set series is a different sort for Eve, who is perhaps better known to U.S. audiences for Starter for 10, Men in Black III, Star Trek Into Darkness, and, most recently, Bombshell.

Ahead of Belgravia’s premiere this Sunday on Epix, we chatted with the UK-based Eve about playing Susan and what programs she watches when she’s not causing trouble in 19th-century London.


the windsors channel 4 netflix

(Photo by Channel 4)

What are you watching?

So, you know this is a rocky time. I find that, to go to sleep, one likes to be soothed. And, fittingly or not, I find myself being soothed by two shows. One is The Windsors (pictured) on Netflix [in the U.S.] and the other is Upstart Crow, which is also on Netflix [in the U.S.]. They’re both highly British comedy spoof shows.


FAWLTY TOWERS, (from left): Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Ballard Berkeley

(Photo by BBC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

What is on your DVR?

I don’t have a DVR. I have like Apple TV, Netflix, and kind of BBC … But the shows that I buy and have always bought include Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Fawlty Towers.


marvelous mrs maisel amazon

(Photo by Amazon)

What is in your streaming queue?

I’m certainly a fan of Maisel, which is over on Amazon. I have to say, in terms of my viewing habits, I’m much more in tune with the Criterion Collection on iTunes and purchase Ingmar Bergman movies, so I don’t really spend too much time on repeating shows. But I do still enjoy Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee [on Netflix]. When it comes to shows, I like to lighten my tone. With movies, I like to be quite serious.


The Plot Against America star Zoe Kazan ep 2

(Photo by HBO)

What is coming soon that you can’t wait to see?

I was enjoying that Al Pacino show that he did on Amazon, Hunters. I’m really looking forward to my friend Zoe Kazan’s new HBO show, The Plot Against America, when it comes here.


alice eve belgravia epix

(Photo by Carnival Films)

Whitney Friedlander for Rotten Tomatoes: How did you get cast in this project and were you a big fan of Julian Fellowes’ work before this?

I got a letter from the producers and they said, “Would you like to do it?” That was it.

I was a big fan of Gosford Park, so I knew Julian from his work on that. And when I read the book for this, Belgravia, when they offered it to me, I then was able to sit down and really enjoy Downton and enjoy the comfort that it gives as a show.

So much of how you play Susan is in subtlety, like the way she scans a room at a party or makes a silent commentary about her in-laws. How did you decide how to do this?

That’s definitely an outside-in thing, and I definitely inhabited Susan from the inside-out. And I think that’s just how she manifested. The thing about the 19th century was [that] everything was observed so intricately. Every movement and every glance and every gesture was meant so much was so loaded; for example, the etiquette teacher explained to us that when we were having dinner, you couldn’t touch your hair, you couldn’t touch your face, you couldn’t do something with your napkin, you couldn’t lift your forks too high or your knife too high, you couldn’t put your elbow on the table because everything, kind of, was mannered and was a way of expressing something. And so there was very limited movement, and there was very limited gesture. So she kind of found her personality, I guess, as you noticed, in like a smaller space.


Adam James and Alice Eve in Belgravia episode 104

(Photo by Carnival Films)

How much of these mannerisms did you know already? Americans always think that all British people know these etiquette guidelines.

Well, I think some of it is intrinsic. I think there is definitely like a cultural understanding of the history and the history of repression and the history of expression. And then I think a lot is learned. I mean, I really enjoyed exploring.

I went to Oxford, but certainly people who go to RADA — to the Royal Academy — to study drama, they’re really good. They go through like a course in what sound was like and of course in walking … and so there is a way to study it. But I learned it through the etiquette teachers and through reading.

How much did you know about this time in British history anyway?

I read a lot around it when I started the job, but also in my course at Oxford, we did from 1832 to the present day, which was modern literature. And so that’s Queen Victoria’s realm. She came to the throne in 1832 … so I certainly had an idea of her influence on literature of the time and the [Alfred] Tennyson, the [Robert] Browning the heavy, kind of elegiac. I had an understanding of the Gothic nature of the architecture, but, I think in terms of society, I learned that since I got the job.


Alice Eve and Richard Goulding in Belgravia episode 104

(Photo by Carnival Films)

Susan has more depth than her meddling ways; for instance, she and Oliver don’t have children. She tells her mother-in-law at one point that she does want them. Is she lying? It’s hard to know if we want to trust her.

I certainly trusted her when I played her, but I think that she wants a child. You could maybe judge her motivations for wanting a child, but I think she does want one. I think maybe she is bored. And I think that there’s very little to do for her, because she’s not allowed to integrate into society and, therefore, kind of conduct relationships. And she can’t go anywhere without her husband, so she doesn’t have entertainment.

As Julian said, himself, to me, the only ways for women at the time to divert themselves were society and children. So, she had sort of access to neither, but I also think her biological clock was kind of ticking.


Belgravia poster

(Photo by Epix/Carnival Films)

Much like with Downton, a lot of what happens on Belgravia involves how much the elite can trust their support staff — even when it comes to getting dressed or undressed.

This was a long conversation that we had running through the whole of the show: the reality of a woman getting dressed on her own … I mean, they couldn’t use the restroom on their own. It was Selfridges, the department store, that had the first female restroom [around when] clothes started to change. Because you would need assistance to even pee. So, it’s a big one.

I know you’ve appeared in a few adaptations like the Amazon miniseries Ordeal by Innocence, which is based on the Agatha Christie story. But you haven’t done a ton of period work on screen. Would you like to do more?

Yes, it’s thrilling. I mean, the thrilling part of doing this was playing a character so kind of complex and well-imagined by Julian. I don’t want to do roles for the sake of them … usually, I just want to play roles that give the woman her do and where her complexities and all her motivations are taken into account. Wherever that comes, I’m thrilled to be able to take that on.

Belgravia premieres on Sunday, April 12 at 9/8C on Epix.


Tag Cloud

TV Land animated Star Wars Amazon Studios slashers PaleyFest dceu sequel blaxploitation Travel Channel medical drama spanish language joker renewed TV shows Christmas remakes Winter TV Syfy 4/20 Sci-Fi name the review deadpool Amazon ESPN thriller comedies Freeform CW Seed ghosts Action dramedy Music FX Ghostbusters Tumblr harry potter classics cancelled TV series NBC VH1 Hallmark romantic comedy video on demand scorecard MCU golden globes australia films FOX game of thrones Sneak Peek Star Trek Starz Apple jamie lee curtis Emmy Nominations unscripted satire spy thriller child's play Fox Searchlight sitcom Avengers Thanksgiving Disney Plus See It Skip It Musical Nickelodeon comiccon crossover asian-american hispanic Comedy archives Acorn TV Turner Classic Movies First Reviews Superheroe Superheroes what to watch indiana jones sports 2018 discovery TCM psychological thriller Marvel disaster Disney+ Disney Plus TCA Winter 2020 black SDCC Summer Fantasy anime justice league TCA strong female leads Nominations TBS 71st Emmy Awards USA game show Disney italian FXX Apple TV Plus sag awards ABC scary movies YouTube Red APB E! zombie YouTube Premium cooking 2015 TCA Awards parents rotten Mary Poppins Returns Box Office Anna Paquin elevated horror cartoon spinoff obituary TCA 2017 witnail Cosplay crime dark Comedy Central spain werewolf hist Premiere Dates Adult Swim American Society of Cinematographers comic batman 007 james bond Spectrum Originals boxoffice Pop History free movies BET Awards Oscars science fiction reviews Quiz Nat Geo The Arrangement zero dark thirty TNT best anthology adaptation Fall TV Infographic Reality Amazon Prime Martial Arts psycho diversity police drama Winners Chilling Adventures of Sabrina IFC Films ABC Family Showtime Endgame Song of Ice and Fire blockbuster ID die hard Trophy Talk FX on Hulu Turner Animation VOD DGA Bravo Western DirecTV CNN Valentine's Day MTV Lifetime robots rotten movies we love sequels USA Network Spring TV doctor who Extras CBS All Access Cannes composers documentaries venice based on movie The Witch hollywood Logo Comic Book Creative Arts Emmys Tubi true crime Hear Us Out Elton John New York Comic Con Pirates toronto independent TruTV HBO Pride Month cults Cartoon Network revenge cops Video Games Stephen King Binge Guide Lifetime Christmas movies Horror Super Bowl Holidays television Dark Horse Comics worst CMT Apple TV+ all-time SundanceTV technology Disney Channel crime thriller YA BET screenings Funimation natural history Awards Tour vampires Photos south america stoner cancelled TV shows Character Guide Mystery OWN Year in Review laika teaser Epix Grammys Tomatazos Pop TV Emmys Shondaland Esquire dc Comics on TV Marathons transformers movies nature Sundance 45 football PBS TV renewals Mary poppins cars Podcast Mary Tyler Moore finale DC streaming service ratings halloween tv MSNBC documentary Black History Month Kids & Family Netflix Christmas movies WarnerMedia toy story DC Universe movie dragons cancelled First Look supernatural Walt Disney Pictures Pet Sematary 2019 X-Men VICE canceled Country chucky politics OneApp Paramount Network 20th Century Fox spider-man miniseries quibi Biopics Certified Fresh spanish WGN Election Calendar BBC One 72 Emmy Awards Warner Bros. Marvel Television Shudder criterion LGBTQ crime drama GLAAD Mudbound twilight Brie Larson Watching Series Reality Competition Crunchyroll war Sundance Now universal monsters Fox News video richard e. Grant A&E space Arrowverse Ovation versus Interview CBS mission: impossible cinemax Trailer TV stand-up comedy Captain marvel LGBT GIFs kids Disney streaming service Countdown streaming Columbia Pictures Masterpiece Film A24 Baby Yoda Netflix a nightmare on elm street theme song Ellie Kemper award winner directors Polls and Games Marvel Studios Universal social media biography DC Comics BAFTA Television Critics Association Heroines period drama festivals foreign news Musicals HBO Max BBC America singing competition HBO Go Vudu Hallmark Christmas movies 24 frames political drama stop motion 2020 serial killer 99% binge 2016 nbcuniversal Amazon Prime Video latino Spike Rock mutant emmy awards Rocketman talk show festival NYCC RT21 dogs Hulu cats Family Trivia 21st Century Fox President concert Film Festival Drama Discovery Channel nfl AMC romance Holiday green book Pixar The CW E3 Chernobyl Opinion The Purge Crackle japanese aliens Food Network 2017 SXSW children's TV rt archives indie BBC adventure franchise Best and Worst reboot YouTube El Rey San Diego Comic-Con Set visit docudrama tv talk series National Geographic Awards fast and furious Black Mirror halloween Lucasfilm Writers Guild of America canceled TV shows Sony Pictures Schedule comics Rocky facebook worst movies Lionsgate Toys christmas movies Rom-Com The Walking Dead GoT Teen breaking bad Mindy Kaling RT History book TIFF superhero The Academy Women's History Month Red Carpet screen actors guild critics Television Academy zombies TLC travel Paramount ITV historical drama PlayStation Academy Awards Sundance TV IFC Britbox casting Peacock Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Classic Film mockumentary Tarantino comic books french cancelled television