Dracula Q&A: Victoria Smurfit On Working With Jonathan Rhys Meyers & Squeezing Into Corsets
While filming NBC’s new Friday night drama “Dracula” in Budapest recently, actress Victoria Smurfit had an unusual neighbor.
“I was actually staying right next door to the terror museum, which is quite appropriate,” she laughed as she spoke with AccessHollywood.com while discussing the new series, which sees her playing 1800s bombshell Lady Jayne Wetherby, a formidable woman who catches the eye of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Alexander Grayson (Dracula in disguise).
It was appropriate because there’s plenty of terror that begins to run through the city of London in the show not long after Dracula, posing as American businessman and entrepreneur Mr. Grayson, moves to town. But the show is also teeming with sexiness, and there is a mystery involving a shadowy organization called the Order of the Dragon.
While nursing a cup of Irish tea (Barry’s if you’re curious), Victoria discussed playing a character who has some powerful skills — and a powerful corset — as well as the banter that followed getting frisky on screen with her pal, “Jonny.”
AccessHollywood.com: When you were working with Jonathan and he’s talking in an American accent, knowing him as you do, did that take a moment to get used to?
Victoria Smurfit: Do you know what? It weirdly didn’t. I was doing my English accent, ‘cause I’m Irish and Katie McGrath [who plays Lucy Westenra] is Irish and she’s doing an English accent, Jessica De Gouw [who plays Mina] is Australian, doing an English accent, so… none of us really skipped a beat. We kind of just got on with it and we had a pact that if we heard anything that sounded incorrect or dodgy that we’d pull each other up on it. But no, it seems perfectly natural. What is fun is when you’re in a scene with Jonny as Alexander Grayson and he’s American and you’re barely clothed and candle lit and then they call, ‘Cut!’ and it’s [in an Irish accent] ‘How’s it goin?’ ‘That was grand.’ ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ ‘Yeah, I’ll have a cup of tea.’ So I suppose that suddenly dipping into Irish in the middle of that would’ve confused certainly the Hungarian crew if nobody else (laughs).
Access: And he made you tea? What kind?
Victoria: Yep, he can make a mean cup of Barry’s Tea. Sometimes, ‘cause he’s lived in London, sometimes he might actually do the PG Tips, but we won’t hold that against him (laughs). Barry’s Tea is the Irish tea and that’s the one he has to stick to. That’s the rules. I’m currently, weirdly, I have a cup of Irish tea in my hand right now (laughs).
Access: Since you did mention the loves scenes, I’ll get into that. Lady Jayne — we come to find out that she’s not Alexander’s first choice romantically, does that matter, do you think?
Victoria: Well, you know there’s a scene [coming up] where it’s written [in the script]… ‘Alexander is in bed with Lady Jane Wetherby, he’s thinking about Nina.’ And I thought, you know, this is probably not the first time I found myself in this scenario where the man’s thinking about a hot 25-year-old Australian. But that’s OK, I can live with that.
Access: Says a mother of three. If you’ve had three children, surely that’s not the case.
Victoria: (Laughs) Lady Jane, once she realizes that she is not No. 1 in his affections, you don’t want to annoy a woman and you certainly don’t want to annoy a woman who is handy with… sawn off shotguns, so, a woman scorned.
Access: Beyond struggling with love on the series, it seems you had to struggle to keep the girls in your dresses.
Victoria: (Laughs) I wore them as earrings. That’s what I thought. I thought I’m wearing my breasts as earrings today again. Excellent. ‘Cause they’re so high up.
Access: Those costumes are so tight in the bust. How did you manage?
Victoria: Well, do you know what it is? Firstly, Annie Symons, who’s the costume designer, is a genius and because Lady Jane is so sort of tough, she’s sort of fire and ice, she’s very cold, but very passionate and we wanted her to be slightly ‘too’ much at all times, slightly too pulled in, the boobs too exposed, the hair too big, everything just ever so slightly unapologetic and when it came to actually getting the corsets on, there was this fantastic girl called Georgie, who every morning would bang on the trailer and go, ‘It’s time.’ And that is when I would lose the ability to eat anything else for the rest of the day. I was like a tube of toothpaste. She would sort of take me from the middle and squeeze everything from the middle up and everything from the middle down. It was good corsetry, that’s for sure.
Access: Since we are talking about corsets, breasts and bed hopping, how sexy does this show get?
Victoria: The show does get quite saucy… It’s a show for grownups and it’s genre night on NBC. It’s Friday night. Yeah, it’s pushing the boundaries, which is fun.
Access: Tell me about the Order of the Dragon and who they are. Are they like Masons?
Victoria: I suppose they’re sort of like Masons. They’re industrialists… they’re the ones with all the power who arrogantly think they’re all in their nice little cocoon and nobody can get hold of them and as long as they’re bullies and strong and arrogant with it, they’ll protect themselves and they have done that through the ages and will continue and if you cross the Order of the Dragon, you cross it at pain of death.
“Dracula” premieres tonight at 10/9c on NBC.
-- Jolie Lash
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