in the Catherine named Birdy, Andrew Scott stars as Lord Rollo, a man of supreme leisure who dresses like the founding father of medieval comfort. He sways in silky robes over silkier kaftans and spends his days on soft, fluffy poufs while plotting ways to marry off his teenage daughter (the eponymous Birdy, played by). Bella Ramsey) to a wealthy suitor. The film, written and directed by Lena Dunham, was nearly the most enjoyable shoot of Scott’s life. But then, early in production, the actor fell down a flight of stairs and broke his foot.
“It’s amazing how much it messes things up,” Scott recalled with a laugh in a recent interview.
He lounges on a couch in a small, windowless room in a Manhattan studio for which he dutifully shoots promotional material birdie all day. But he looks bright and alive, his broken foot long since patched. In a way, the injury may have helped him tap into the psyche of his character, an increasingly broke medieval lord whose tastes in fashion and aesthetics set him apart from the “draconian macho vibe” of his realm, Scott says. A sense of vulnerability is at work alongside complex masculinity in this firmly feminist film, aided by Scott’s tender portrayal of Lord Rollo.
In conversation with vanity fair, Scott is candid about how he took on the role, what it was like working with Dunham and playing the instantly iconic Hot Priest fleasack left an everlasting mark on his career.
vanity fair: What was the first reason you said yes to this project?
Andrew Scott: It was definitely Lena. I find girl is exceptional. I remember seeing it and thinking, wow. Such a unique voice. This is the stuff you’re looking for. A writer who isn’t afraid to put his autograph on anything. Whatever she sets her mind to, she will have a vision and deliver a message.
Did you have a favourite? girl Character?
It was more the spirit of it. I remember this extraordinary scene where they break up – Lena’s character and Adam Drivers Character. It was such a sad, brilliant scene. And the fact that she did it at that age [is impressive].
Your character gets a memorable introduction from Birdy. She writes, “He’s often vain, mostly drunk, and always greedy.” It’s her perspective, but he has those elements that you approach in a fun way. How did you approach a character that is so louche?
Oh, with absolute devotion. [Laughs] We talked about costumes he should wear. It was incredible to work with [costume designer] Julian day. Lord Rollo would wear Gucci now if he could. He likes to spend money, he is interested in art. He’s just one of those straight men.
Back to the costumes, I looked at this and thought you must be so comfortable. You wear robes upon robes. Was that the most comfortable film you’ve ever made?
That would have been it, but unfortunately I fell down the stairs during the film and broke my foot.
Oh God! I am sorry.
Yes. I think this is an exclusive. [Laughs] There were these very slippery mahogany stairs and I just fell and smashed my foot. So I walk around with a big boot for a lot of the film. I was very thankful for [the costumes] and that I wasn’t wearing skinny jeans or anything.
Have you ever worked on a film where you had an injury like this before? Or was that a premiere?
No, this happened to me for the first time. It’s amazing how much it messes things up.
Did you learn anything about yourself as an actor by completing this type of challenge?
A little I think. When you’re in pain, you feel so strangely vulnerable. I had to take [the cast] off. You’re in crowds and you say, “Please, please, please don’t stand on my foot.”
The first AD is like “Be careful with Andrew!”
Yes. But we did well. We made it!
I’m curious how Lena is on the set. How does she give a note?
We improvised a lot. She’ll come back and say, “I love that line!” Like all the best directors, you reward the good and ignore the bad. [Laughs] She is incredibly exuberant and funny. She also knows how to perform. You don’t have to do 75 takes of something with diminishing returns. You feel confident because she feels confident.
I noticed on TIFF that she said she made you from Hot Priest to Hot Medieval Dad. I wanted to ask about the phenomenon of your characters being prefixed with “hot” after playing Hot Priest fleasack. I find that flattering but also odd. Does it happen a lot?
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/09/andrew-scott-catherine-called-birdy-interview Andrew Scott Goes From Hot Priest to Medieval Daddy in ‘Catherine Called Birdy’