Heida Reed on nudity, Poldark and Icelandic flairThe Red Bulletin talked to Icelandic beauty Heida Reed at the TV Festival in Monte Carlo to talk about her role as Elizabeth, posh nudity and the hardships of wearing a corset
THE RED BULLETIN: How would you describe your character Elizabeth?
HEIDA REED: I think she is very much a girl of her time and born into a society where she is expected to be a certain way. She doesn’t really think out of the box.
One of her decisions was to not wait for Ross Poldark to come back.
(Laughs.) Well, I mean, as I keep trying to say: She thought he was dead! So I think she gave up hope. Having said that though, he does come back before she gets married. So obviously she could have changed her mind, but she doesn’t and she has to live with that choice. It says a lot about her and who she is.
There was quite a backlash on Twitter when your character broke Ross Poldark’s heart (played by Aidan Turner) in the show.
Well there has to be a villain. I mean, I wouldn’t consider Elizabeth a villain, but there has to be that sort of drama. There has to be the character that people root for, and the character that people don’t want the hero to get.
How do you deal with negative comments about you on Twitter? Does it hurt?
As long as people have opinions with a passion about the story and the character, it is great. I have never felt like it was ever aimed at me personally. But I didn’t take the part of Elizabeth to make everyone like me.
There is an interesting aspect about Poldark in terms of male sexual objectification. Aidan (Turner) is seen topless, presenting a perfect six-pack. It feels a bit like the other way around compared to Game of Thrones, where there is a lot of female nudity.
I don’t really feel like it is the other way around for Game of Thrones. I feel like men are objectified a lot there, too. There is an incredible amount of naked women, that’s for sure. But I think objectification in general isn’t a good thing. We should strive for equality across the board in terms of sexual objectification for both men and women in shows like this. It might have looked like Aidan was slightly more objectified than the women in this one. But I don’t like this kind of thinking like, ‘Oh, it is their turn to be objectified because women have been more objectified in the past.’ I just feel like people should appreciate the story for what it is and know that it is more than just posh nudity.
You are from Iceland. Was it difficult to adapt to the English culture after being born and raised in a different country? Are there any major differences?
Iceland has a very sort of Scandinavian culture and is quite Americanised as well in parts. English is very steadfast and traditional. I have lived in England now for ten years and I was trained as an actress here. So it does feel like home now. I feel comfortable in both places.
How would you describe the relationship between Elizabeth and Demelza? Are they rivals who might become friends one day?
I think it evolves over the years. But from what you have seen in the first series I think it is one of those circumstances where they are both good and noble women. And I think they see that being friendly is more important than being nasty. So there is respect and a friendship of sorts has formed in the first series. It does get a bit more complicated. But deep down I think they are good people. And they see good qualities in each other, even though they are threatened by each other as well.
Do you think Elizabeth will always be envious of Demelza?
I think there is a part of Elizabeth that she can’t help, a part that always wants to have a piece of Ross’s heart. Demelza will always be a threat to her, even if she does like her. But it is one of those things, I think she probably wishes that she wouldn’t feel that way, but she does.
Did you expect the success? Poldark is called the next Downton Abbey.
The response has been overwhelming. Of course everyone hopes to be part of a hit. And it is a lovely thing when it happens.
Has your life changed since?
It has in a way, but it kind of hasn’t either. I haven’t changed I don’t think. The circumstances have changed but I haven’t changed. And day-to-day life doesn’t change.
Did you have to do a lot of research on 18th and 19th century etiquette?
That was one of my favourite things! I got to learn how to play the harp.
What was the most challenging task on set for you?
The toughest part was having to wear a corset. It is really hard. You should try it sometime!
Did you have to go on a diet?
(Laughs.) No, because they just pull you in harder. But it’s not a good idea to eat a lot of lunch, because it doesn’t go anywhere. It just gets stuck. You are in so tight that and you don’t have a chance to digest. So it is actually better to have soup or a smoothie, or something. When you take it off again, it is like the best feeling ever.