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Ophelia Lovibond: 'Playing Robin in Mr Sloane came naturally'


Victoria-Anne Bull
Wednesday 28 May 2014 15:39 BST
Ophelia Lovibond is due to star Sky Atlantic's six part drama Mr Sloane
Ophelia Lovibond is due to star Sky Atlantic's six part drama Mr Sloane (Colin Hutton)

The actress Ophelia Lovibond is pondering how different life could have been had her mother flicked mindlessly past Hamlet while perusing the Complete Works of Shakespeare for her sweet-sounding moniker. Others in the mix, apparently, included King Lear's Cordelia and Titus Andronicus's Lavinia, but were soon discarded.

“I wouldn't have been so keen on Lavinia, mainly because my uncle told me it can be shortened to 'lav' [for lavatory],” she titters.

Today Lovibond, 28, is explaining how delightful it has been to play her latest part - as free-spirited American hippy Robin in new six-part comedy Mr Sloane, opposite Nick Frost, who plays sad-man-in-a-crisis Jeremy Sloane.

“There was no anxiety about how to play the role, it just came really naturally and was really fun - the whole time,” a far cry from the troubles of her Shakespearean sobriquet.

Set in the Sixties, this series is less about the sharp-tailoring, slicked-back hair and clinking of cocktails glasses on cult show Mad Men, more a bunch of blokes in outdated suits having a pint down at their local... in Watford.

But then in breezes Lovibond, a perfectly coiffed vision of the Swinging Sixties in her jewel-coloured mini-dresses and kohl-lined blinkers and blows the cobwebs away from Mr Sloane's monotonous life.

“She is there to shake the dust off him and tell him you only live once, don't just wait for it to happen for you,” she adds.

There are some deliciously awkward moments between Lovibond and Frost's characters. Surely elementary for an actress who didn't have to go to drama school (she started acting aged 10 and never looked back), has already kissed Hollywood hunk Ashton Kutcher (“it kinda hurt my neck, he's so tall”) and has played a prostitute at least twice, once in Roman Polanski's 2005 adaptation of Oliver Twist (“my friends ask me what is it about my face that says 'prostitute'. It's a running joke”).

Lovibond has already been rather vocal about the marginalisation of female actors in films and programmes accepting parts that show off male leads. So why did she accept the role of Robin?

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“So often it's a story about the guy and the only decent female role is to be one of their girlfriends and her purpose is to bounce things off her which is so boring. They don't seem to have their own internal monologue and are just there to be part of the scenery,” she explains. “But then a part like Robin... yes it is called Mr Sloane, but she clearly has something else going on that is motivating her. She is in this semi-detached position and it is her choice.”

It is easy to see why she has already been likened to Woody Allen's original muse Diane Keaton. Apart from their shared striking looks, her comic timing is impeccable. They also both have a talent for singing. “I used to sing in jazz clubs with a friend until she went another way.”

She is due to star in superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy this summer, alongside a stellar cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro.

Now though, Lovibond is after something a little darker. “I've done a lot of comedy recently so I would really like to explore something else. I am hankering after a really meaty, dramatic role... like Natalie Portman's part in Black Swan.”

'Mr Sloane' is broadcast on Fridays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic HD

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