Actress Nell Hudson first burst onto our screens as Laoghaire Mackenzie in the smash-hit Outlander in 2014. Now, the talented actress will be reprising her role as the loveable Nancy Skerrett in ITV’s Victoria set to air this weekend. The period drama closely follows the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, often filled with storylines that have you on the edge of your sofa. On the brink of the much-anticipated third series airing this Sunday, we had a chat with the rising star to discuss corsets, meeting Miss Trunchbull and howVictoria will top expectations this season…
How did you first get into acting?
It was kind of a process of elimination. Everyone was filling out their UCAS forms and I just thought, I can’t write another essay ever again. I realised the thing I enjoyed doing most at school was drama and acting.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
It all happened coincidentally, I thought I would apply to drama school and I got in. The more I did acting, the more I thought I really love this! And in hindsight I’ve been putting on plays for my family since I was three!
What do you love about working for TV?
I really enjoy the style of acting you can do in front of the camera because it’s so naturalistic and hypnotic both to perform and to watch. Drama school teaches very classical training and theatre, so we didn’t do much on acting for TV. I learnt after graduating and whilst on the job. I’ve now completely fallen in love with it.
How did it feel when Outlander became such a big success?
It was so crazy! I got that job not long out of drama school and I hadn’t heard of the books before. I knew it was a big break when I landed the role, so was thrilled to have got it! I don’t think it hit me until I landed in LA to promote the first series and I saw posters on billboards and buses.
How did you get cast in Victoria?
That was a few years after Outlander happened. I did a first round of auditions with a lovely casting director called Susie Parriss. She actually holds auditions in her house and has three dogs and so you kind of just play with them while you wait. It’s a great ice-breaker if you’re feeling nervous about an audition! After that I met with the director of the first two episodes of the first series, Tom Vaughan and producer Damien Timmer, then got the call after that. Luckily it was only a few rounds of auditions, it wasn’t a horror story of getting called back in like 15 times. It felt like a good fit, sometimes you can really feel when you fit into a character quite naturally.
What’s your favourite thing about your character in the show?
Nancy is a good person and I really like that. It’s nice to play someone who I would trust and who is kind and likeable. I sort of wish I was more like her! I don’t have to jump an enormous bridge to get to where she is.
Did you love wearing the 19th century costumes?
I think that there will come a day, even in period dramas, where actresses won’t be required to wear corsets anymore.They can be restrictive and you can’t really eat or lie down in them, but I do think there’s mileage in learning what it’s like to wear one and applying that to a character who would have worn a corset. I don’t recommend, wearing one all day everyday for six months out of the year. Also I was probably a little jealous because all of the characters upstairs got to have like twelve different dresses in beautiful printed silks and I was in the same grey dress for most of the three years!
Why should people get excited for the third season?
It’s bigger than ever. As Victoria grows up, her stage becomes more global and I think the drama within the rest of the show, my own story line included, reflect that. The stakes are raised and it gets bigger and better.
What do you prefer – period or contemporary shows?
I like everything! The last contemporary thing I did was the Informer for the BBC and I had so much fun on that because it was a great show and script. It was all filmed in East London which was really near where I live – I think one day I even walked home from set because we were filing ten minutes from my flat!
You also sing and write – how do you balance all your passions?
It’s something that helps me keep the balance really, if I didn’t have another outlet besides acting I think I’d go insane!
What has been your personal highlight of your career to date?
When I did an episode of Call The Midwife,I got to do a scene with Pam Ferris who played Miss Truchbull in Matilda. It was my favourite childhood film and I think that was the first time in my career where it was a real pinch me moment.
How would you describe your personal style?
Probably very laidback and quite comfy. I like to be able to move around freely. But I’m such a fan of dressing up when the occasion calls for. I like to look casual for my day-to-day life and then when I go out I go hard!
What is one item of clothing you couldn’t live without?
A really good comfortable, flattering pair of jeans.
How does your red carpet style differ from your off-duty look?
I feel like I’m almost playing a role when I’m on the red carpet or doing an event. Daily I’m probably quite bland, but going out for one night only I’m going to be Jessica Rabbit!
Victoria Series 3 will air on ITV every Sunday at 9pm.