The very lovely Elaine Cassidy plays Lucy Honeychurch in ITV1 splendid new adaptation of E.M. Forsters A Room With A View (adapted by Andrew Davies so expect some raciness amongst the longing glances). We caught up with Lucy recently to talk about the romantic drama.
Spending hours at the piano practising with a concert pianist, Elaine Cassidy has rediscovered a childhood interest in playing, although she never had a passion for it like her character Lucy Honeychurch in A Room With A View.
"Lucy lives out her emotions through her piano playing, but she isn't aware of it which is really sweet.” Explaining how she came to portray a talented pianist Elaine says: "I really can't play the piano that well. I had lessons for three years when I was young but then I lost interest in it, so I didn't practise and didn't get any further.
“Tanya, my tutor on the show, was absolutely brilliant. She plays lots of concerts and seemed to have an understanding of what we were trying to achieve –she didn't have to teach me to play, as much as to make it look as though I knew how to play the piano well.
"It was just basically getting hand positioning and rhythms and beats right. Every day I practised so I knew it inside out and on the day I wouldn't have to be worrying about where my hands should go.
"It has renewed my love of playing. I think I'm just going to buy a few books and take it up again myself.’’
Elaine believes her character Lucy is on the cusp of discovering herself when we meet her as a young woman in Florence.
"This is a coming of age story and we see Lucy develop through the film because she has to deal with things for the first time in her life."
"As humans we are constantly learning and growing but Lucy is at that unformed stage and there are certain ages where you are more impressionable than others. You’re like a sponge and just soak it up and you could go off in any direction. There is a dichotomy within her that she is spontaneous at times while at other times she plays by the rules. I suppose this adds to the complexity of Lucy's nature.
"Eleanor Lavish tries to encourage her to experience life, not to do what you're told or check a book to find out how you are supposed to feel when you see this painting or that statue. I like to think that as she gets older she'll refer less to the Baedeker on her travels. Actually we see her ten years on when she returns to Florence and she isn't marking things off in her guidebook.
"It's like when you leave school where you've been institutionalised and told what to do, what time to go to class... Then people go to college and they find it more difficult left to their own devices having to decide when to study and so on. Lucy is on the cusp of leaving rules and being dictated to behind, she will then become the driver of her own life and take it the way she wants it to go."
Explaining her character, Elaine says: "I think as a person Lucy is very honest, instinctive and thinks everyone should be treated as equal so she doesn't enjoy it when people are being made fun of just because of their class difference.
"Lucy is quite adventurous, extremely passionate when it comes to paying the piano but the lovely thing about her is that she doesn't really know who she is as a person yet, or how she comes across. I think that comes hand in hand with youth because you find out more and more about yourself as you get older. She sees glimpses of herself through what other people say and it's the first time she has heard these things.
"There are quite a few moments when other characters, who have a perception of Lucy, pick up on different angles of her behaviour and personality. I find it amusing how she reacts to those comments, but I think she is just learning about herself in the piece."
Elaine gleaned a lot about her character from reading Forster's classic novel. "I love doing book adaptations as you can get all your background information from the text. In the book Lucy is very sweet but there is a darker side to her as well, she's not simply one dimensional. I like to think that my interpretation is as true as it can be because it's the character that rules me. She makes all the decisions… I just follow suit."
In the drama Lucy Honeychurch is torn between her engagement to Cecil Vyse and her attraction to the socially unacceptable George Emerson. "It feels like this love triangle is put upon Lucy. But life is never clear cut. It is something that takes her by surprise and she has to deal with it. The biggest dilemma in her life is something beautiful and positive - but she's completely torn over it. That conflict (between George and Cecil) looms large in her life whereas today what frets her so much would be small by comparison.
"I do believe that Lucy really likes Cecil and I think she even loves him but as a friend, which she doesn't realise when they get engaged. They get on well and she feels comfortable with him so it made sense to get married – the easy choice. But then passion comes into the equation in the form of George and you can't box that off.
“Her feelings for George come as a real shock because she's never been exposed to raw emotions like that. Everything has always been in its place before but love isn't like that, it's too complex. You can't explain why you fall in love with someone. And as it's the first time Lucy hasn't talked to her mother about a problem, she keeps it to herself - and anxious times follow."
Elaine loved filming in Italy even though the hours were somewhat unsociable…"I think I might have been a bit more impressed if we had been filming at reasonable times but getting up at 3.30am and working a full day means you don't know where you are let alone what the architecture is like.
Everything I did in Florence was fuelled by the wonderful espresso coffee."