When Carey Mulligan first filmed her Bafta-winning role in 2009’s An Education, she had no idea of the attention and success that would follow. Six years on and she’s worked with some of the best in the business – from the Coen brothers in Inside Llewyn Davis to Steve McQueen in Shame – but she admits her sudden fame didn’t always come easy.
“In retrospect I wish I’d had more fun with it, but I didn’t,” she tells the new edition of Radio Times magazine. “I got a bit terrified. I was – and am – not great at having my photo taken and doing red carpets. When I was a bit younger, it used to paralyse me with fear. I used to get to the end of a red carpet in tears – awful. I don’t really know why, I was just sort of a bit overwhelmed.
“I should have been at the parties having a good time, but instead I was at the parties being, like, ‘When can I leave?'”
But after her Bafta win and an Oscar nomination, instead of capitalising on her success, Mulligan took a year off until she found a role that really satisfied her, moving to Los Angeles as a means of avoiding being typecast: “I had great experiences but also felt nervous about being pigeon-holed as being a British actress in a bonnet.”
She was tempted back into a corset by Bathesheba Everdene, Thomas Hardy’s “really honest and messy and complicated heroine”, and has a leading role opposite Meryl Streep in Suffragette released later this year.
“Women were force-fed, went on hunger strike, blew up houses, blew up churches, chained themselves to government buildings and martyred themselves, and 100 years later, no one’s ever made a film about it!
“And then you think: ‘Well if that story hasn’t been told, think of all the millions of other stories that have never been told.’ And maybe, in the next couple of years, I should not just wait for great parts to come along in films where there’s a male lead and an interesting supporting role. I should be tying to find ways of generating more films that are more driven by women.”
The new edition of Radio Times is available in shops and on the newsstand from Tuesday 21st April
Far From the Madding Crowd is released in cinemas on 1st May