'Victoria' actress Lily Travers teases her upcoming role in Season 3 and why the show is relatable to today's audiences
Lily Travers has acted in many acclaimed shows and movies, and is all set to dabble in Victorian grandeur as the Duchess of Monmouth in the upcoming 'Victoria' season 3
January 2019 will see rising star Lily take center stage as the Duchess of Monmouth, the new Mistress of the Robes who became entangled at the Palace, in the highly anticipated third season of 'Victoria', which is set to air on January 13, for ITV and PBS Masterpiece. The eight-part series, which is set in 1848 during a time of uncertainty for the monarchy, chronicles the reign of Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert.
Lily had earlier shone in the role of 'Lady Pamela Mountbatten' in Gurinder Chadha's feature film 'Viceroy's House' alongside Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson, telling the story of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, charged with handing India back to its people.
Her other feature films include Matthew Vaughn’s award-winning 'Kingsman: The Secret Service', also starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Taron Egerton and 'Me Before You', adapted from Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel of the same name alongside Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin.
In an exclusive mailer with MEAWW, Lily teased about her role as the Duchess of Monmouth in 'Victoria' and what can be expected from her in the third season. She also discussed the show's BBC counterpart, 'The Crown', her harrowing role as Lady Mountbatten, and the kind of roles that she is most intrigued about playing.
How do you feel about playing the Duchess of Monmouth in the third season of 'Victoria'?
I think I’m more excited than nervous, though taking on a role always comes with a sense of responsibility. It’s such a collaborative process and the entire 'Victoria' team is so talented, I want to feel I’ve done justice to them as well as the character. The audition process was fairly rigorous. I had a number of recalls and a chemistry test with one of the other actors but then it all moved super quickly. One day I was in the audition room and three days later I was on set!
What lies ahead for the Duchess in the third season?
Sophie is compelled by a sense of obligation to her heart beyond the need to conform to the social expectations of a "good" Victorian woman. Without giving too much away, there’s love, laughter, tears and a bit of harp playing… She comes into conflict with the pressures of the courtly quid pro quo, the opinions of others and her own moral dilemmas. She’s not a rebel by today’s standards but she’s certainly brave. Sophie refuses to be crushed by circumstance and is unafraid to think and act independently. I think it’s a journey the audience will really get behind and relate to as the themes transcend the Victorian era and speak to everyone.
Have you always been a fan of the show? What do you think sets the show apart from other period dramas like 'The Crown'?
Yes! My housemate used to watch it while she was baking so when I heard that beautiful intro music I always rushed to the kitchen for 'Victoria' and cake! When I was cast, I rewatched the first and second series but with a new perspective on the whole thing, knowing I’d be joining them all! I love the focus on Victoria and Albert as a couple and as parents. Despite being a historical series about the monarchy, there is a real human story there too and Daisy’s scripts really bring to life the subtleties of someone who isn't just a Queen but a real woman. I think she brings that nuance and delicacy to all her female characters so it was such a privilege to play one of them!
You had earlier played the role of a powerful woman like Lady Pamela Mountbatten in 'Viceroy's House'. On what grounds were you able to relate to the character?
Lady Pamela lived in India during a period of real political and social upheaval. It was a fractious and turbulent time and her family were very public faces during Independence and Partition. I read Pamela’s amazing autobiography, 'Daughter of Empire', which was very insightful and helped me understand some of what she might have felt. Witnessing something so profound and devastating at such a young age certainly never left her and she left Delhi saying she felt more of an affinity with India than Britain.
The lavish, palatial surroundings of the Viceroy’s House and the atrocities and indescribable suffering the Mountbattens witnessed during Partition are two extremities of existence I haven’t encountered. But I think it’s the job of the actor to find the human connection to any character. They could be in a Medieval prison, a Mexican jungle, a space station on Mars or a fairytale castle and you can still relate to them.
You have stepped into the shoes of many historical figures in your career. Is there anyone, in particular, you're incredibly inspired by?
I find stepping into the shoes of any character, fictional or historical, hugely inspiring. I always learn so much from living out their struggles and joys and trying to understand their motives. Every journey is deeply personal. Duchess Sophie isn’t actually a historical figure, although her character was inspired by a real woman. It was interesting to play someone fictional in a historical drama. I was lucky enough to meet the real Lady Pamela Mountbatten and she is certainly an incredibly inspiring tour de force.
If there was a battle of wits who would you think would outdo the other — the Duchess or the Lady? And why?
Both were incredibly resourceful and had amazing strength of character for such young women to withstand and deal with the difficulties and dilemmas they faced with grace and strength. In terms of a battle — I think they are both surrounded with enough chaos and would decide to agree on a gentlewoman’s truce with each other!
Since you have also worked in 'Doctor Who', how differently do you think female characters have been depicted in that show as compared to the ones you have played in 'Viceroy's House', 'Kingsman: The Secret Service', and 'Me Before You’?
In 'Kingsman' and 'Me Before You', my characters were more a part of someone else’s story. In a long line of male doctors, it’s certainly exciting to see a woman step aboard. There has been a tradition of females taking on the role of sidekick in 'Doctor Who' but there has been a definite evolution in how much authority and voice they have. 'Viceroy’s House' told such a rich and important story that it was very difficult to give screen time to every character's voice.
From what I researched about Pamela, she and her mother made some radical changes to the role of Vicereine. They did things that no other British ladies in their position in society had done before. They were unafraid to get hands-on; going into refugee camps and helping in hospitals and schools. While it might appear that the characters in more modern films are more "obvious" depictions of strong women, I think when you dig a little deeper, historical characters are also brave and courageous — Pamela and Sophie forge new paths within heavy social restriction and expectation.
Given a choice what kind of roles would you prefer the most and why?
I love any role that challenges me. I like pushing myself out my comfort zone and trying something new, whether that’s researching a period of history, learning a new skill, delving into complex psychology, exploring a new country or working with an amazing new team of people. I do like dressing up though — I’d love to be a pirate!