She got her start acting on TV back in the ’70s. Back then she was a teenager living in England. Then came her career in theater. She’s been in plenty of plays with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.
She’s had a long and successful career overseas – and she’s finally breaking through in the states. Later this year, she’ll be in the follow up to Disney’s Maleficent.
In 2017, she portrayed Cyril in Phantom Thread. The film is set in the ’50s post-war London where Cyril and her brother Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) are renowned dressmakers. The Woodcocks are at the center of British fashion. They dress movie stars, socialites and royalty with a distinct style. The stunning performance earned her an Oscar nomination.
Her latest starring role is on the BBC show Mum. In it, she plays Cathy, a widow in her 50’s living out in the suburbs with her adult son Jason. We see her grow and learn a lot about herself over the course of the series. The show circles around a budding relationship with her long-time best friend Michael. Mum is very grounded, a bit serious – but also really funny.
Lesley joins us to talk about starring in the BBC sitcom Mum, and how she almost had a career as an opera singer. Plus, what it’s like working with director Mike Leigh, and how she gets in character employing his unique improvisational style.
It’s an incredible challenge to deliver an emotionally honest portraits of ordinary people, but she nails it every time.
The third and final series of episodes of Mum are out now on the BBC streaming service BritBox.
About the show
Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.
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