‘Howards End’ star: Miniseries is perfectly timed for #MeTooNews 

‘Howards End’ star: Miniseries is perfectly timed for #MeToo


‘Howards End’ star: Miniseries is perfectly timed for #MeToo

Philippa Coulthard, who stars in the miniseries adaptation of “Howards End,” says she ignored the Merchant Ivory film — with permission from Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar for the 1992 movie.

“I decided not to see the film before we started [production]. It’s good to look at it with fresh eyes, especially because Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson [both of whom starred in the movie] are just incredible. It would be tempting to just want to do a poor imitation,” says Coulthard, 25, who plays Helen Schlegel (Bonham Carter’s part in the film). Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”) plays Helen’s sister, Margaret.

“Emma Thompson played Hayley’s mom in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ so they’re good friends and she gave Hayley her blessing and said, ‘Absolutely don’t watch the film, do your own thing,’” says Coulthard. “Apparently she has seen the minseries and she loves it.”

Co-produced by the BBC and Starz and adapted by Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester By The Sea”), the four-part miniseries (8 p.m. Sundays on Starz) is based on the classic E.M. Forster novel of the same name published in 1910. In addition to Coulthard and Atwell, it co-stars Matthew MacFadyen (“Ripper Street,” “Pride and Prejudice”) and follows the opinionated Schlegel sisters as they carve out a place for themselves and navigate social conventions in Edwardian England. The series snared big numbers last fall on the BBC, premiering to 8 million viewers.


Matthew Macadyen, Philippa Coulthard and Tracey Ullman in a scene from “Howards End.”Starz

Coulthard, who grew up in Australia, is a relative newcomer to American audiences. She co-starred on the Australian TV series “Secrets & Lies” and had a recurring role on ABC’s “The Catch.”

“Hayley [Atwell] took me under her wing and was quite protective over wanting my first experience on an English set to be a good one,” Coulthard says. “She and Matthew [MacFadyen] really set the tone of making it a set where you don’t take yourself seriously but you take the work seriously.”

The show’s interiors were mostly filmed at Twickenham Studios in London, but the exteriors were filmed on locations all around England.

“The exterior [of the Schlegels’ London home] was Myddelton Square,” says Coulthard. “It looks just like it would in Edwardian day if you take out all the cars. Apparently [the local population] get absolutely thrashed with period dramas. I think they’re fed up with the BBC with their carriages and things!”

Although “Howards End” is set in the early 1900s, Coulthard thinks it’s the perfect moment for a new adaptation. “[The Schlegel sisters] seek to connect with people outside their immediate social and ideological sphere,” she says. “A lot of people forget to … assess the bubble that they’re in.

“I think, as well, with the #MeToo movement, this is the time where more than ever, there’s a demand and appreciation for strong female characters regardless of what setting they’re in,” she says. “Obviously we’ve come a long way since Edwardian England but I think there are still things that can be learned. Now is a great time for [‘Howards End’] to come out.”


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