Bel Powley on Filming ‘The Morning Present’ within the Wake of #MeToo
Bel Powley is hungry. “Excuse me if I take a small bite while we’re talking,” she tells me in her plummy, albeit immediately endearing British accent. She’s been out and about all day doing the press rounds for The Morning Present, her buzzed-about mission co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, which premiered completely on Apple TV+ this month, and will significantly use a snack.
One of many flagship dramas to look on the newly-minted streaming platform, the sequence follows a well-liked morning information program whose beloved co-host, Mitch Kessler (Carell), is abruptly fired amidst allegations of sexual misconduct. A case of girl-on-girl drama ensues, whereby Kessler’s longtime feminine co-host Alex Levy (Aniston) is pitted towards Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson, a youthful, power-hungry journalist not-so-subtly going after Levy’s job (or so she thinks).
Given the extremely pertinent material, it is sensible why Powley’s earlier interviews have run lengthy — there may be clearly tons to speak about. In truth, all the forged and crew of The Morning Present, led by Aniston and Witherspoon, have been working time beyond regulation over the previous 12 months rewriting the script to deal with new, seemingly endless claims of sexual harassment, most notably Matt Lauer’s public fallout at The As we speak Present.
“We show #MeToo in a different light,” Powley says. “It’s not just about victim and perpetrator — it’s about how the corporate world is adapting with all of our relationships: between women and women, between men and women, the legitimate relationships, the illegitimate relationships. I found that really intriguing.”
After I ask Powley if she’s ever encountered something unseemly on a earlier performing gig, she nods into her telephone between bites. “Even if nothing physically has ever happened to you, it’s a feeling among women, in every line of work. It’s an attitude that men have had and that women have been forced to deal with. But it definitely feels like there’s been a shift. I can feel it on sets now — it feels different.”
Right here, Powley discusses her new function, being a Pals fan-girl, and studying methods to faux a Staten Island accent with Pete Davidson’s mother.
Had been you a giant fan of morning discuss reveals earlier than taking up this mission?
By no means. Not one of the reveals within the U.Okay. are as flashy as they’re right here. We’re way more night information folks — 100% of all the pieces I learn about morning tv information was from doing this present.
What shocked you essentially the most?
How early these folks stand up! I had no concept the dearth of sleep that these individuals are coping with. Even the writers are nocturnal — they’re up there all night time — and the anchors stand up at three:30 a.m. My character is the bottom of the low within the pecking order — I play a PA — so she in all probability will get about two hours of sleep an evening. It’s all-encompassing, as a result of it’s the final pillar of stay tv. Nobody actually watches stuff when it’s on TV these days other than the information, so there’s loads of strain. It’s on the fly the entire time.
Did you binge-watch any explicit packages to familiarize your self?
After I did my first spherical of press for my first film (Ed word: The Diary of a Teenage Woman), I did The As we speak Present and (The Tonight Present Starring) Jimmy Fallon, and I had an precise out-of-body expertise. I feel I blacked out whereas I used to be on (The Tonight Present). I can not keep in mind being there as a result of I used to be so nervous. Doing it stay is so scary, nevertheless it actually helped me perceive the mechanics of it a lot extra: the place you sit, the place you get carted in, the place your dressing room is. You start to appreciate how many individuals are literally engaged on it.
Inform me about your character. What was it like enjoying a PA?
She not too long ago graduated from college within the U.Okay. and has a chance at The Morning Present, so she takes it on a whim. It’s not as if she all the time wished to work in morning tv information — she’s simply 25 and making an attempt it out. It was nice as a result of we had been each studying about morning tv collectively in a symbiotic manner. She was diving into the deep finish and so was I. I’ve loads of scenes with Reese’s character, however I’ve almost zero with Jen’s character — her character in all probability doesn’t even know who my character is. There isn’t any motive why she would ever discuss to me.
Did you develop up watching Pals?
I’m a big Pals fan. I used to be too scared to talk to anybody in the course of the first month of filming. I used to be simply so gobsmacked that I used to be in a room with Jennifer and Reese. They’re full powerhouses — they each produced the present and performed the leads, and I don’t understand how they managed to do this. They’re fairly the bosses; I’ve a lot respect for them.
I learn that the present was fully overhauled after the #MeToo motion. How did your character arc change?
The present turned all about displaying the grey areas of #MeToo, other than the issues all of us learn on Twitter. My character is having an affair with the weatherman, who’s a lot older than her. It’s a very respectable relationship — they’re very in love — however over the course of the present you’ll see how they battle with their relationship in gentle of what occurred with the #MeToo motion and Steve Carell’s character being tried for sexual misconduct.
RELATED: Natalia Reyes Is Not Your Typical Motion Star
What does your wardrobe appear to be? I think about it’s a lot completely different than the on-air anchors.
It might’ve been straightforward to make me look actually generic, however every character has fully particular person private type, which is essential to having a present that’s set in New York. Everybody right here has a tremendous sense of style. My character wears loads of classic. She has wonderful boots and this very cool classic Cartier watch, which hints in direction of the truth that she’s fairly posh. Jen is all the time totally made up, after all.
What’s subsequent for you? I do know you latterly wrapped Judd Apatow’s upcoming untitled movie about Pete Davidson.
I couldn’t imagine that I received that job. I take pleasure in doing dramas however I’m additionally an enormous fan of doing comedy, and love all of Judd Apatow’s movies. I felt so honored to have had the chance to work with him and Pete Davidson, who is an effective pal of mine. He and my boyfriend (actor Douglas Sales space) did a film (The Dust) collectively they usually’re nice pals, so I knew him fairly effectively already. It was so completely different from filming The Morning Present as a result of all of Judd’s films are improvised comedy, which might be actually nerve-wracking, however when you throw your self into it, you all the time have a very good time. I’m enjoying a Staten Island woman which is loads of enjoyable. It couldn’t be farther from myself. The accent alone was nice.
How did you excellent your Staten Island drawl?
I did a play on Broadway final 12 months (Foyer Hero) the place I performed a cop from Queens, so fortunately I already had that thick New York accent in my head. And filming in Staten Island, half the crew had that accent. Pete’s mother has a very thick Staten Island accent too, so I frolicked along with her on a regular basis.
You’ve talked about that you’ve got a spot reserved on the College of Manchester. Do you ever take into consideration going again to highschool?
Perhaps. I might clearly like to — I used to be going to review historical past and politics collectively. I feel I might’ve actually loved college. Perhaps I’ll be like Ronald Reagan and be an actor then turn into a politician! You by no means know.
What’s the craziest factor you’ve examine your self?
After I was a teen, I learn on Wikipedia that I used to exit with Brad Pitt. I used to be, like, 15, so that may’ve been bizarre. It should’ve been somebody at my faculty enjoying a joke on me.
Do you will have an Instagram account that you simply’re at the moment obsessive about?
I like Man Repeller. It’s my primary supply for woman’s information and clothes. (Founder Leandra Medine) is wonderful and I like the way in which her journalists write — it’s an insightful, intelligent manner of writing about style, which I actually take pleasure in.
Who was your first movie star crush?
Orlando Bloom, however as Legolas in Lord of the Rings. I had images of him round my mattress. I liked these lengthy, flowing locks.
Which function do folks acknowledge you for most frequently?
After I’m in America, Minnie from The Diary of a Teenage Woman, and once I’m in London, it’s this youngsters’s tv present that I did once I was 13 known as M.I. Excessive about baby spies. I nonetheless get acknowledged for that regardless that it was about 15 years in the past.
If you happen to might solely watch three films for the remainder of your life, which three would you select?
Stand by Me, Bridesmaids, and The Satan Wears Prada.
What’s your largest responsible pleasure?
Ice cream, particularly Ben & Jerry’s Phish Meals. I might eat a complete pint on my own.
How would you describe your private type?