Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall talk Constellations at Duke of York’s Theatre

I had 7 minutes with Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall and this is what the three of us came up with (Written for Spoonfed):

This Friday the heartbreaking Royal Court Theatre play Constellations will show the West End what it really means to be romantic. Written by Nick Payne and directed by Michael Longhurst, this structurally unforgettable play stars the disarming Sally Hawkins and the downright cheeky Rafe Spall.

Sally, who delivered a dark dose of reality to the kids in Never Let Me Go and a bigger dose of sunshine in Happy-Go-Lucky plays quantum physicist Marianne. Contemplating the many possibilities of the multiverse, she charges head first into a relationship with the more stoic, straight-talking beekeeper Roland.

We caught up with the indomitably jolly pair at a press junket where they revealed their own take on romance, how acting can make you self-conscious and why their characters are so alluring.

Constellations would have us believe that Marianne and Roland have romantic jobs, what’s your idea of a really romantic profession?
Rafe: Roland’s a beekeeper and I think the idea of a beekeeper is quite romantic but in practice, it’s really hard work because effectively it’s like being a farmer and a beekeeper is the sort of job that people only really do in plays.

Sally: It’s your perception of a job, you put the romance on it. Like with beekeeping, you do embellish it with a kind of romance but it is also a lovely, earthy sort of job. I think it depends on who you are and then any job can be romantic, you can make it so.

Rafe: I think working in a book shop is quite romantic. Maybe like a travel book shop, in west London or something. I’ve just come up with a really good idea for a film. I’m gonna patent that. That’s just come to me. Actually, if anyone is passion about something, it can become quite sexy. I find people who are incredibly intelligent very attractive.

Sally: People who have a skill that you have no idea about like musicians, they pick up something up and you go: Wow.

Rafe: Like me and my saxophone

Sally: Yes, he’s very sexy with his sax

Rafe: I call it a sexophone.

Sally: [laughing] That’s gross.


Your characters have jobs that help them make sense of their lives, how does acting inform your take on life?
Rafe: It’s like what comes first, is it my interest in people that informs my acting or my love of acting which informs my interest in people? I think my interest in people is probably why I like acting so much. I’m happy to sit on a tube or I n a café listening to other people’s inane conversations, it’s my curiosity.

Sally: It’s the psychology of how people think and why they say certain things; unlocking that as an actor is interesting. It makes you think about your own reactions and how extreme people can be in certain situations and it’s just fascinating what makes people tick and why they do what they do.

Rafe: It can make you very introverted

Sally: Do you think?

Rafe: Maybe that’s the wrong use of the word but you can worry too much about how you’re coming across because you’re so interested in the mechanics of what makes up a person’s personality.

What makes Roland and Marianne work?
Rafe: They’re so different in so many ways. Roland is very earthy and Marianne is in the brain, she’s all about physics and what makes up the world. He’s like a tree and she’s like a bee that goes around it. He’s always constant but she’s this brilliant woman who’s up in the air all the time.

Sally: Those two extremes are so lovely but you wouldn’t necessarily put them together. That’s why they should be together. They completely compliment each other, it makes sense and it’s so unusual.  That’s what’s beautiful about it, how they stumble across each other by accident, and that’s luck isn’t it. Also that way of really respecting someone’s passion is so attractive. You’ve got someone who is passionate about beekeeping and someone who loves trying to work out how the universe works. To see something like that in someone when you have no idea how their mind thinks or how they do what they do – that’s beautiful.

Constellations runs at Duke of York’s Theatre from 9th November 2012 until 5th 2013 January

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