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Behind the Scenes in Soho

Introducing a collection of interviews with some of London’s best British talent, from artists to actors, and what they love about our one of wonderful neighbourhoods, Soho!

  • Pearl Mackie

Pearl Mackie

British actress Pearl Mackie is best known for playing Bill Potts in the long-running television series Doctor Who amongst other illustrious roles on screen, in both film and television. In addition to this, she has gravitated to the stage, performing n Londons West End in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for the National Theatre, The Birthday Party, Grenfell: in the words of survivors and is currently treading the boards at our neighbouring theatre, The Donmar Warehouse. We caught up with Pearl in between shows to hear about her favourite hotspots in Soho.

You’re performing in Lucy Kirkwood’s The Human Body at The Donmar Theatre. What was it that attracted you to this production? 

Well, I have always wanted to work at the Donmar! It is such a prestigious theatre and they produce such incredible new plays – I was here as much as I could be as a drama school student, sitting in the cheap seats or standing at the back. It always felt very magical and elusive, so it’s great to be here. Also, I love Lucy’s writing and the rest of the cast are phenomenal, which is always a big draw!

Tell us about your character.

I actually play 12 characters in total, which is quite a whirlwind! They weren’t all in place when I said yes to the job, but its really exciting to play such a range of people. My roles range from a Hollywood movie star to an incredibly desperate woman who has deserted her family after suffering from post-natal depression to a Jamaican nurse who came over on one of the first Windrush ships. It’s a real challenge. And as with all of Lucy’s characters, none of them are cut and dry, they’re all incredibly nuanced – well at least I hope they are!

In between auditions or performing on stage, what hotspots in Soho do you frequent? 

My favourite spot in Soho is Café Boheme on Old Compton. Its great at any time of day and in any season – I have been known to pop in there for a cosy breakfast and coffee in the winter after an early morning meeting – but my favourite is sitting outside with a glass of wine or a negroni as the sun goes down and soho starts to liven up. I love people, I find them fascinating, its why I’m an actor and there is no better spot in the city to people watch in my humble opinion. It’s also where I told my future wife that I loved her for the first time, so that’s cute too.

What is your favourite medium of theatre, film and television to work in and why? 

I’ve been asked this a few times and honestly, I can’t choose. I love the liveness of theatre and getting a reaction from the audience in real time and it’s so great to really delve into a character’s psyche in rehearsals. But I also love being on set and the camaraderie of everyone being there together working towards something amazing. I sometimes even enjoy the pressure of coming to the end of the day and everyone switching up a gear, but I’m a weirdo – I work well under pressure! I love all the mediums and I’d love to be able to keep a nice balance of each in the future.

What was it that first inspired you to become an actor?

I used to watch a lot of old movies with my mum when I was a kid. Lots of old black and white films and early colour musicals from the 1940’s. That’s another thing that drew me to the play actually – I was always fascinated by old Hollywood and The Human Body really explores the magic of that era. And the heartbreak too – it was such a brutal time for so many people, especially actresses. Judy Garland is a particular favourite of mine, but her life was so tragic.

What has been your favourite job you have performed in to date?

Like I said before I don’t like favourites! I think you can find lessons in every experience, especially at work. So even ones which were more challenging can be useful. Honestly though, I’ve been pretty lucky to work with some amazing casts and crews who are able to support each other and make each other laugh even through difficult times.

What is your best loved restaurant and dish in Soho? 

At the moment I love the cornbread at Caravan, but I also had a great French onion soup at Le Garrick the other day. When I was in Curious Incident a few years ago the Teriyaki Salmon at Shibuya had me in a chokehold. My god that was good. I also love the soup dumplings at Leong’s Legend. I could go on – how much time do you have?!


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