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

strong female leads Acorn TV war Mary Tyler Moore Black History Month docudrama king arthur YouTube Red target Amazon Prime FOX transformers parents dark BET Awards Biopics aapi Elton John PaleyFest APB Comedy Mindy Kaling twilight Extras mutant Marvel Studios japanese Brie Larson live action anthology Pop TV Pride Month mockumentary Black Mirror elevated horror feel good VICE sequel crime thriller Lifetime Cartoon Network posters Netflix Shudder new zealand dogs Star Trek mission: impossible werewolf Disney+ Disney Plus tv talk marvel comics CW Seed facebook travel Hear Us Out Cosplay Holidays Fox Searchlight A24 quibi talk show Esquire Premiere Dates First Reviews science fiction Ovation popular Awards cancelled TV series olympics Starz Binge Guide Food Network spider-man kaiju TIFF Paramount Plus Winners adventure RT21 critic resources black nature directors TruTV rt archives Britbox festival Sony Pictures Classic Film MSNBC know your critic royal family dramedy die hard 90s movies free movies Musical ITV Fantasy 2020 Lifetime Christmas movies new york screen actors guild critics Discovery Channel Drama HBO Apple comic books films Cannes Masterpiece Teen technology Video Games Podcast El Rey 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Image Comics Television Academy Western President diversity stoner Comedy Central Emmys rt labs Superheroes Awards Tour Fall TV singing competition TCM TCA Comics on TV TV renewals Reality Competition teaser Avengers The Purge biography richard e. Grant robots Country Nat Geo Warner Bros. Amazon Prime Video Vudu Opinion Oscars NYCC kids debate HBO Go Lucasfilm ViacomCBS vampires dexter RT History breaking bad gangster OneApp 2017 superhero Thanksgiving 4/20 Crunchyroll pirates of the caribbean Wes Anderson versus Election comic book movies canceled independent christmas movies X-Men legend godzilla award winner Disney 93rd Oscars FX Lionsgate anime Christmas south america obituary ID Academy Awards Comic Book BBC Spike Chernobyl superman American Society of Cinematographers Pacific Islander Apple TV Plus mcc television sports adaptation laika cars Pixar Family Pop DC Universe CBS All Access Music cats DGA zombie Watching Series Animation Martial Arts medical drama GIFs Sundance green book video on demand Bravo women BET Peacock venice Walt Disney Pictures Character Guide all-time scary spanish language History fresh 71st Emmy Awards game show archives aliens Showtime lord of the rings hollywood Sci-Fi satire 73rd Emmy Awards series OWN crime Hulu First Look Freeform foreign VH1 Travel Channel international Kids & Family new star wars movies Reality reviews IFC TBS universal monsters miniseries Rocketman MTV 2019 classics National Geographic TLC Box Office The CW Marvel New York Comic Con animated book Horror criterion WGN E! Legendary golden globes batman Rock Women's History Month Tumblr natural history IFC Films 2015 Tubi ESPN romance boxoffice Fox News Schedule Writers Guild of America politics Nominations Ghostbusters Sneak Peek halloween ratings Pirates Valentine's Day live event worst movies Instagram Live spy thriller hidden camera suspense ABC Family franchise The Walking Dead australia CNN jamie lee curtis cops emmy awards 72 Emmy Awards Adult Swim PlayStation Trivia AMC GoT Winter TV spider-verse Shondaland thriller Turner Classic Movies french Netflix Christmas movies 20th Century Fox hispanic heritage month Certified Fresh historical drama Grammys dceu NBC DirecTV TV Land toronto 1990s james bond toy story witnail YouTube Alien fast and furious cancelled television remakes name the review spinoff halloween tv cancelled Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Action IMDb TV streaming rotten movies we love cartoon monster movies 21st Century Fox TCA Winter 2020 Epix nbcuniversal rotten festivals NBA Paramount biopic TNT cinemax blaxploitation indie Logo Quiz nfl FX on Hulu casting comics book adaptation Spring TV Interview unscripted period drama cancelled TV shows Endgame Super Bowl blockbuster scary movies Disney streaming service SundanceTV children's TV HBO Max serial killer based on movie golden globe awards 45 2016 slashers Countdown Hallmark Christmas movies zero dark thirty hist Set visit finale Mary poppins WarnerMedia SXSW renewed TV shows BBC America best MCU Calendar sequels 2021 Film Festival Polls and Games Paramount Network VOD telelvision crime drama SDCC sag awards deadpool genre Summer marvel cinematic universe a nightmare on elm street romantic comedy comedies The Walt Disney Company hispanic disaster Rocky scene in color news theme song cults A&E political drama Broadway prank documentaries PBS BBC One Disney Plus vs. comic book movie blockbusters Toys Tarantino child's play young adult USA Network binge Arrowverse The Arrangement CMT Television Critics Association Tokyo Olympics slasher Hallmark Film Sundance TV Mary Poppins Returns doctor who art house Trailer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt indiana jones supernatural Sundance Now king kong psychological thriller japan Apple TV+ ghosts Universal Pictures high school asian-american Columbia Pictures trailers 99% latino game of thrones social media joker cooking 007 sitcom basketball saw sopranos Year in Review spanish jurassic park composers crossover dreamworks Disney Channel documentary Dark Horse Comics stand-up comedy Emmy Nominations concert E3 what to watch Musicals justice league CBS Amazon wonder woman Nickelodeon dragons chucky LGBTQ Rom-Com stop motion rom-coms Marvel Television The Witch italian Comic-Con@Home 2021 Photos Crackle BAFTA DC Comics video streaming movies Heroines revenge Funimation football TV rt labs critics edition police drama Spectrum Originals discovery Red Carpet AMC Plus reboot docuseries boxing Star Wars Superheroe Mudbound black comedy adenture TCA 2017 space See It Skip It Song of Ice and Fire harry potter heist movie scorecard TV movies LGBT Trophy Talk kong Tomatazos psycho action-comedy Captain marvel true crime 24 frames ABC Signature Marathons movie Holiday FXX Neflix razzies zombies TV One comic Turner DC streaming service Amazon Studios San Diego Comic-Con Creative Arts Emmys Mystery TCA Awards Best and Worst spain 2018 Anna Paquin GLAAD Infographic Exclusive Video Stephen King screenings canceled TV shows worst ABC Pet Sematary Syfy comiccon Universal dc Baby Yoda YA USA mob YouTube Premium The Academy Ellie Kemper