Celia Imrie didn’t need to move to America.
In Britain she was rightfully regarded as a National Treasure thanks to her roles in "Bridget Jones’s Diary," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Calendar Girls" on the big-screen, her Olivier-award winning theater career, and for her small screen efforts with the legendary comedian Victoria Wood.
But Imrie’s decision to move abroad has paid dividends, as she is a series regular as Pamela Adlon’s mother in "Better Things," while she has remained loyal to her British roots with her turn in the feel-good comedy "Finding Your Feet."
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I recently had the chance to talk to Imrie about "Finding Your Feet," her time in Hollywood, and her selfish reaction to the death of Wood back in 2016.
I just wanted you to know that "Finding Your Feet" is the perfect film for an expat. It is so English and feel-good. What attracted you to it?
The part was written for me. So I couldn’t turn it down. Plus it was with a lot of my old friends, and we had such a good time making it. I feel like feel-good is selling it short, though. Because there is so much more that goes on in it than that. Yes, the film enlivens the audience. Definitely. But there’s a whole heap of other things that go on with it, too.
Why did you move out to Hollywood?
I have always been a bit of a gambling girl. My mother used to bet on the horses. So I jumped on a boat to try my luck. I was actually cast as Patrick Stewart’s first wife in a series called “Blunt Talk.” But my visa didn’t come through so I had to bow out. But then by chance I was cast in “Better Things.”
The third season of which is just about to being production.
We are starting in July. I am simply mad about Pamela Adlon. She is extraordinary. I don’t know how she writes, directs, and looks after her own family. She is such a hard worker. I just love her. She can ask me to do anything. I was pruning roses in the garden completely naked, because that’s what she saw her own mother doing. Now, our relationship is such, that she can be say anything she wants to me. Be as rude as she likes. Which, as you know as a northerner, is the ultimate form of flattery.
I couldn’t agree more. You also just worked with Benedict Cumberbatch, too. What struck you about him?
You realize that these people are where they are for a reason. They’re not there for nothing. I kind of freaked him out by saying that I used to be married to his father. That was for a role, though. But he is so talented. And smart, because he made sure to be an executive producer so that he could have much more say in "Patrick Melrose."
You have just written a new book, too.
Yes. “Sail Away.“ It is my third book. It is set on a ship traveling between London and America. I just love the sea. It is so calming. It makes you look so tiny and insignificant. I had relations on the Titanic and I have just always been fascinated by it.
I first came across you because of your work with Victoria Wood. I read that you didn’t know that she had cancer when she died.
I was a little hurt that she kept it away from me if I am honest. I was in America at the time of her death. You have those moments where you are selfish. But now I understand. I have come round to understanding her decision. Because you want to preserve something. You don’t want people to see you like that.
“Finding Your Feet” is now in cinemas across the US.