Watch: Tanya Moodie discusses her mother’s influence on Empire of Light
Tanya Moodie says her mother’s background working in the NHS inspired her performance as a nurse in the Sam Mendes drama Empire of Light.
The Homeland star plays Delia in the movie – the hardworking mother of Michael Ward’s character Stephen, who has a surprising love affair with movie director Hilary (Olivia Colman).
“I felt an extra layer of responsibility because my mom was a nurse,” Moodie told Yahoo UK.
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“My mother was the head nurse of the operating room, so she had no forward-looking responsibilities.
“She was always in the back wearing a smock, so she’s never had anything cute and sexy with a tight waist like Delia did. She was specializing with a heart surgeon in the back.
“There were always organs around. I remember going to visit him at work and he would say ‘take it, play with it,’ and he once gave me a jar with an appendix in it.
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“These are the kinds of things I had to play with as a kid. That’s why I’m like this.
“In terms of this and everything else with the NHS, my focus as an actor is just to be truthful and authentic. For me, that’s the focus of my goal as a character.”
The focus on authenticity went so far as to question whether Delia would ever go to the cinema, which formed the epicenter of much of the movie’s action.
Moodie said, “Sam, ‘Is Delia coming to the movies?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t have time, I work hard and Delia loves her job.
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“Basically, I decided that Delia dates occasionally. So, if match.com or Tinder were available at the time, she would be there and make the occasional date.
“So he went to the movies to watch something like Smokey and the Bandit.”
Moodie, who was appreciated for her role as Motherland and her stage work, said she was very pleased to have the chance to work with rising star Ward in Empire of Light.
“Actually, he could technically be my son, given his age, and he reminded me of that sometimes. ‘It’s in 1981, in the old days, in ancient history. Did you ride a pterodactyl? to school?’
“It’s that kind of attitude. Listen, the ’80s weren’t so long ago and we had the best music.
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“He’s very nice and present as an artist. I’ve done my homework, that’s all I have to do. I can look into his eyes, Sam says move, and then we walk away.”
Empire of Light is now in UK cinemas.
Watch: Empire of Light Trailer