Independent Spirit: Interview with The Knick's Juliet RylanceBy STEVE FRAMO
At the turn of the 20th century, there were all types of advancements being made around the world, including social, technological and medical. Women’s rights, however, were among those advancements lagging behind. Back then, the so-called “fairer sex” had a ways to go if they hoped to be respected and treated as equals by their male counterparts. Women of wealth and privilege had it a bit easier, but some of them still faced struggles relating to their gender. The Knick’s Cornelia Robertson is one such individual.
Set in 1900, this new Cinemax period drama unfolds in and around New York City’s fictional Knickerbocker Hospital (a.k.a The Knick), a medical facility where the staff is dedicated to finding new and revolutionary methods to treat patients and save lives at a time when mortality rates were high. Cornelia not only serves as head of the hospital’s welfare office, but also chairs the hospital’s board of trustees as proxy for her father, shipping tycoon Captain August Robertson. Every morning, she wakes up in the surroundings of a genteel lady and, after breakfasting with her parents and being dressed by her maids, ventures out into the real world. In that environment, Cornelia is not one to be easily brushed aside or dismissed, as the actress who plays her, Juliet Rylance, explains.“Cornelia is a very strong-willed, headstrong, determined young woman,” says the actress. “She’s a force to be reckoned with, and for a woman living in 1900 America has considerable sway. However, Cornelia is still very restricted by the so-called glass ceiling of that time for women. So there’s a wonderful duality about her role in the story, and sort of treading this thin line between two worlds, the worlds of the hospital and then that of her family and what’s expected of a young woman of that time.
Acting-wise, some of the challenges for me with this character were trying to realistically portray a woman of that period, along with learning as much as possible about women’s etiquette back then, and pinning down her accent. I worked with a wonderful dialect coach, Tim Monich, who really helped me find my way into the story and into Cornelia.( Collapse )Eve Hewson: I want Step Up role!OP: Such an awful title.Q: I don’t hear much of an Irish accent.
I know. It comes and it goes away. I was just in New York with all of my Irish friends, and I was totally Irish again but I moved to LA and now I talk like a California person. I don’t know what’s going on, (laughter) but I promise you I am Irish, I will show you my passport. (laughter)Q: When did you decide to become and actress and did your parents support your dream?
Yeah, they did. I had a tutor and she was trying to get me when I was thirteen, excited and involved about school. It wasn’t working and so she did these things where my sister and I, who is two years older than me, we would go to a restaurant to learn how to make sushi. Then we would go and do some other little project and one of the weekends we went and made a short film. I just really loved it and I was really excited. From that point she put me in one of her feature films (she was a director) and so from a young age I really wanted to do it. My parents were worried, obviously, it’s not the most stable career, and for women it’s really hard. You are being judged on the way you look all the time, you are being judged on how you are and constantly people are saying no to you. I understand that if you have a kid, you wouldn’t be like, ‘Go be an actor!’ You would be like, ‘Go be a lawyer!’ (laughs) so I get it, but they were really protective. But then when they realised I wasn’t going to stop acting, they became beyond supportive.( Collapse )Sources: 1 2 3If you want to catch up/get into the show (legally): HBO is airing the first three eps on Labor Day starting at 8 PM, and there are three days left to watch the pilot for free on Youtube.