7 Questions with… The Singapore Grip’s Georgia Blizzard: ‘Joan is really intoxicating’
We talk to the Australian actress about her role as the charming but ruthless Joan Blackett in gripping period drama The Singapore Grip.
Australian actress Georgia Blizzard, the young newcomer currently lighting up The Singapore Grip, didn’t pick the easiest year to relocate to other side of the world.
“I just moved to London from Australia in February, just a couple of weeks before lockdown, so it has been a particularly strange time,” she said.
“As far as promoting a show, it is bizarre, but it’s nice for this show to have its moment. Normally you move on to the next job, but with that off the table for the last six months, it’s been nice to really reflect on it and give the show its own moment.”
After auditioning for the World War II period drama via Skype in 2018, Blizzard spent a large chunk of 2019 in Malaysia, shooting the epic saga alongside David Morrissey, Luke Treadway, Colm Meaney, Jane Horrocks and Charles Dance.
Blizzard plays Joan, the spoilt daughter of Walter Blackett (Morrissey), who attempts to help her father secure the future of his rubber merchant business in British Singapore. A satirical story about colonialism, war and romance, the series feels like a classic period drama with a modern twist.
BT TV caught up with Blizzard to ask 7 burning questions about the making of The Singapore Grip.
1. How intimidating was it working with such an incredible cast?
I think I expected to feel more intimidated than I did. It was surreal, but everyone was so wonderful, kind and good at their jobs, I just got swept up in their energy. It was a wonderful gift of the job to be working with all these people who I really admired and looked up to for such a long time. I was always observing how they work and looking for little titbits that I could use.
2. What did you enjoy about playing Joan?
Joan is really intoxicating. A mix of charm, wit, intelligence and also utter ruthlessness. She pursues her objectives very aggressively and has no problem chewing people up and spitting them out if it helps her get one step further to what she wants. It was really fun to put all those elements together and see how far you can push them at one moment. I was always struck by how bamboozling she is.
I don’t think Joan and I are too similar in just about any way. That was definitely something I was interested in. The confidence of a life where you have never been told "no". The sense of entitlement that comes from growing up the way that she did.
3. She has sensational outfits. Did you have any favourites?
There are so many. I think there were 25 costumes, all handmade. My first costume fitting was 12 hours, which I thought was a mistake when I read it, but no, we were there for 12 hours.
They were all super-bright and colourful and not what I was expecting when I was thinking about the 1940s. But the costume designers had a really interesting idea about how the environment influences the way you dress.
I brought home a silver floor-length gown... I’ve worn it quite a lot in lockdown. I’ve been prancing about in it in my flat
- Georgia Blizzard
So the boldness of the patterns and the brightness of the colours reflects the heat and the tropical environment they are in.
I was very lucky to bring a couple home with me including a silver floor-length, backless gown, which when I got it, I thought I would never wear this.
But I’ve worn it quite a lot in lockdown. I’ve been prancing about in it in my flat, it’s been quite fun.
4. What was it like shooting in Malaysia?
It was really extraordinary to be in that environment. Obviously there were some logistical challenges – it was incredible hot and we were struck by pretty relentless thunderstorms as the start of an early monsoon season. But it was a real perk of the job to be working in such a beautiful and varied country with a Malaysian crew.
I am feeling very nostalgic for Malaysia in this lockdown. I have no idea when we’ll be able to go back again.
One of my favourite spots was Langkawi, an idyllic paradise. We had a couple of days off there to sit by the water, drinking out of coconuts
- Georgia Blizzard
We were really lucky as a cast that we go along so well. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true. I think because we were all away from home, it was like doing a gap year together while also making a TV show. We all did weekends away together.
One of my favourite spots is Langkawi, an island off Kuala Lumpur which is an idyllic paradise.
We’d had a couple of hectic weeks and we had a couple of days off there to sit by the water, drinking out of coconuts, feeling very grateful for our lives.
5. How did you find the British accent?
Accents and dialects were always my favourite thing to do at drama school. So to do it on screen was great fun.
I had studied the accent before and it’s a fun way to get into the character as well. It automatically takes you from who you are into this character in a clear way.
Also, being around the British cast all day, I would phone home to Australia and they would ask what is going on with your Australian accent. I would be taking this British accent on without even realising it.
6. What was the show's biggest challenge?
The first thing that does come to mind is the heat. I got made fun of quite a lot because I was the Australian on set who couldn’t handle the heat. The plus side is that these characters would have been in those conditions and it has a visceral effect on the body. And the heat really underlines the pressures and tensions of that time.
But from my personal perspective, trying to feel glamourous when you have sweat dripping down every part of your body and having make-up people furiously throw powder on you as you drink loads of water as you try not to faint – it’s sticky and not much fun.
7. What has the reaction been like from friends and family in Australia?
My friends and family were so excited. We finished it over a year ago and they just couldn’t wait to see it. I endured six hours in total of watching it on FaceTime with my dad, who would be filming the screen and turning it to his face to capture his shocked reactions. I’m not sure how much he was really watching, but it was really sweet.
This is my first job in the UK and I was just looking in the supermarket the other day at all the telly mags that had the show and our faces all the way through them. I suddenly got really worried as I did it because I feared someone might catch me looking at them.
My dad says he wants a copy of everything, but I cannot be seen putting through 15 magazines with my face on them!
Watch The Singapore Grip box set on BritBox.