What to Watch

What to Watch With The Rook Star Joely Richardson

The actress discusses the three potential endings to season 1 of her Starz supernatural spy mystery, plus what she's been watching recently (Fleabag and After Life are her most recent binges).

by | June 28, 2019 | Comments

Joely Richardson (Linda Farrier) - The Rook

Joely Richardson’s first foray into series television came with Ryan Murphy’s dark dramedy Nip/Tuck. After stints in between as a wife of Henry VIII on The Tudors and Glinda in NBC’s dark Wizard of Oz retelling Emerald City, she returns this Sunday on The Rook.

Richardson plays Linda Farrier, the head of a top-secret government agency for people with paranormal abilities. And while the series is based on a book of the same name, the show quickly diverges from Daniel O’Malley’s work into its own story — one with three potential endings, Richardson told Rotten Tomatoes when we caught up with her ahead of the premiere.

That’s one reason why the star told us she’s excited to actually watch the series. We also discussed what she’s been watching recently — she was a big fan of Fleabag, and watched it weekly while it was airing in the U.K. (it was released all at once on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S.). Ahead of The Rook’s premiere on Sunday, June 30, find out more about Richardson’s streaming queue and what to expect from her new series.

What’s appointment viewing for you?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Andrew Scott in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

I tend to watch more in the evening, when it gets dark. The last two things I watched in completion were Fleabag, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Ricky Gervais’ After Life, and I just loved both of them. With Fleabag, I watched it weekly. And also, I happened to be in one place in London at the time that it was showing, and I watched season 2, and then I went back and watched season 1.

What’s in your streaming queue?

Usually I catch up with things later. After Life, I watched later, and I watched that pretty much back to back.

What shows are on your DVR?

Fionn Whitehead in Black Mirror "Bandersnatch." Credit: Netflix

(Photo by Netflix)

Right now I’m on the move constantly, so I have yet to crack into a new series. So, I’m tending to watch one-off films. I still want to watch Black Mirror. I’m late to the game on that. I think it’s fantastic that we live in the time where we hit this golden age for television, where there’s just such a high standard.

What’s coming soon that you can’t wait for?

I’m excited about seeing The Rook too, because having not watched it. Even though, obviously, part of the story is what I had imagined based on the script. I don’t know the ending. So, honestly, hand on heart, it’s The Rook — just because I like the people that were involved so much, and I’m really curious to see that next.

Joely Richardson in The Rook (Ed Miller/Starz)

(Photo by Ed Miller/Starz)

Jean Bentley for Rotten Tomatoes: I’ve watched a couple of episodes of the show, but I have to confess I’m still not 100 percent sure what’s going on.

Richardson: Sometimes I feel like that. When I start a new book, I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know if I understand this well.” But I just trust it, and then it all becomes clear. It all will become clear in the series. To me, obviously, it’s clear. It’s a government agency, a secret service. They have very subtle superpowers, but we don’t know what’s going on in the bigger picture, and it [eventually] reveals itself and the character motivations. Someone at the premiere said they really loved the way each episode wasn’t all wrapped up. Lots of elements are left hanging, and I like that too, because it’s too easy if you know exactly what’s going on.

Did you read the book on which the series is based?

We were told not to. Immediately after I signed on, I thought, “Great. Time to read the book.” And then everyone said no. Although it’s the same premise, this is different. It will be misleading. So I didn’t read the book.

And like all series television — because I remember this from Nip/Tuck — you never know what the next episode’s going to be. It’s so exciting as an actor to look forward to getting the next script. As an actor doing a TV series, you live episode by episode, because you don’t know what’s going to happen to your character in the next one. Will they be good? Will they be bad? You need to cover your bases at all times.

Speaking of Nip/Tuck, what you think of Ryan Murphy’s success? What was it like working on that show?

I think Ryan Murphy is quite spectacular. I was watching the French Open and Rafael Nadal won his 12th, I think, and the commentators were saying there’s just some extraordinary thing he has. He’s not normal. And although Ryan is normal, he does have superpowers in terms of his output in writing and directing and producing. He’s just a phenomenal talent, basically. And not just in terms of his creative output, but I know that he was one of the first to implement the 50/50 in terms of diversity and female employment, and in terms of crew members. He also does that too.

The Rook was very heavy on the 50/50 crew as well — in fact, we had far more female directors than we did male. And Ryan, I think, was very much part of initiating that. The Rook, it was fantastic. It wasn’t just in terms of directors were women. It was also — speaking selfishly for a moment — these great female characters.

Emma Greenwell and Olivia Munn in The Rook (Steffan Hill/Starz)

(Photo by Steffan Hill/Starz)

What was it like to work on such a female-centric show, particularly in a genre that isn’t necessarily known for that?

When I received the script, I thought, “Oh, this is really interesting. It’s going in a new direction,” with Myfanwy losing her memory. Everyone is completely intrigued by the secret service and spy world. In terms of playing Lady Farrier, I looked at the tapes of Stella Rimington, who, surprisingly, as a woman, was the head of MI5. Margaret Thatcher as first female Prime Minister. These women did have positions of great authority and it’s important that that’s represented.

What’s your character like? How does she fit into the mystery?

Well, she’s the king in terms of chess pieces. The premise of the show is obviously everything I just said, but also, in episode 1, Myfanwy touches the chess board, and that’s quite a key moment. And then it reveals a secret room that she has, and Farrier’s the king, and Grantchester, Adrian Lester, is the queen, and everyone has their positions. It’s multi-layered. It’s a spy thriller, but playing on many different levels.

So although I’m set up as the king, most people within the agency are fighting for that position. In an ambitious world, people want the top jobs. Then there’s Myfanwy, who has this extraordinary ability and is, in some respects, the chosen one. Having not seen it, I don’t know quite how it plays out, but Linda Farrier is sort of the backbone. She’s very much the structure of the agency.

Emma Greenwell in The Rook (Warren Orchard/Starz)

(Photo by Warren Orchard/Starz)

You’ve only seen the premiere so far, but what can you say how the season ends?

I don’t even know what the exact ending is. We definitely shot two, but there was a third in the script. So I don’t even know what the ending is! I have a very good idea. Obviously, I’m not going to say. But you see why I said I wanted to watch The Rook? Because I don’t know the ending.

Will it open new questions for a potential season 2, or is it closed-ended?

I don’t know the end of it, so I can’t say. I think we just scratched the surface on it, actually. There are so many potential storylines to play out. But who knows? The viewers will answer that question.

The Rook premieres Sunday, June 30 at 8 p.m. on Starz.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Sundance TV zombie Funimation Best and Worst Disney streaming service Tumblr slashers mockumentary Reality E3 mutant Countdown toronto dc APB Superheroes composers Film WarnerMedia versus Tarantino sports LGBTQ venice scorecard Pirates Vudu Academy Awards First Reviews Television Critics Association cancelled Rocketman psycho doctor who nature The Walking Dead space TruTV technology Certified Fresh MTV crossover Marathons parents football TV ITV foreign superhero Trivia X-Men diversity crime DirecTV Lionsgate movies PBS Amazon Studios Ellie Kemper dceu canceled cults Disney Plus italian Emmy Nominations Lifetime TCA Awards BET Cosplay Emmys all-time Nat Geo toy story Shudder Election stoner Interview Holiday Arrowverse spinoff Quiz CBS All Access comic television Sci-Fi NYCC true crime New York Comic Con National Geographic Nominations what to watch south america Schedule DC Universe Fall TV Spring TV 4/20 Box Office halloween tv sequels Photos DGA IFC batman A&E Brie Larson zombies natural history miniseries OWN Avengers facebook YouTube Premium archives Spike Turner Infographic romance halloween spain DC streaming service Marvel Studios Heroines Chernobyl Polls and Games renewed TV shows Ghostbusters Musicals Red Carpet sitcom Rock Ovation fast and furious Writers Guild of America Black History Month Peacock YA FX Set visit romantic comedy thriller strong female leads video on demand films Binge Guide festivals laika science fiction period drama Stephen King Elton John festival emmy awards Creative Arts Emmys Apple CNN news zero dark thirty Apple TV Plus Starz Sony Pictures politics CMT justice league TIFF E! TNT criterion game show award winner Columbia Pictures Comic Book VOD ABC Family Logo french Oscars aliens Pet Sematary Tomatazos See It Skip It police drama 71st Emmy Awards 72 Emmy Awards Television Academy binge 2019 Summer Valentine's Day Premiere Dates Classic Film Amazon Animation revenge sag awards SDCC Drama Warner Bros. American Society of Cinematographers HBO Go TBS witnail blaxploitation nfl movie Mary Tyler Moore Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stand-up comedy independent Mudbound Hallmark Christmas movies Film Festival YouTube Red teaser Superheroe crime thriller GoT Tubi 2015 rotten movies we love golden globes christmas movies Country 2018 VICE scary movies anthology travel Comedy Central FXX Hear Us Out ghosts WGN El Rey Hallmark Endgame Comics on TV Comedy anime asian-american chucky 20th Century Fox richard e. Grant Christmas BBC America Esquire SXSW Disney FX on Hulu 2020 NBC 24 frames USA series based on movie Britbox GIFs TCM werewolf Sundance franchise Fox Searchlight adaptation quibi Walt Disney Pictures latino canceled TV shows VH1 Paramount Thanksgiving Western sequel disaster Shondaland First Look Year in Review dragons rotten HBO cars Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt USA Network The Witch Acorn TV Trophy Talk cancelled television spanish language AMC Martial Arts GLAAD Extras PlayStation comiccon mission: impossible Marvel Television Cannes Sneak Peek Amazon Prime Pride Month documentaries ESPN vampires President biography Masterpiece Toys FOX comedies BBC Bravo ratings hispanic Showtime remakes HBO Max History harry potter cooking Universal Mary Poppins Returns cartoon video Freeform spy thriller RT21 Lucasfilm cops BBC One singing competition Watching Series cancelled TV series Biopics DC Comics RT History a nightmare on elm street PaleyFest Awards SundanceTV Super Bowl nbcuniversal indie Nickelodeon spider-man indiana jones dogs Trailer blockbuster Pixar concert unscripted Awards Tour classics Sundance Now LGBT Character Guide Discovery Channel 2016 medical drama twilight theme song 2017 Lifetime Christmas movies psychological thriller animated MSNBC robots Netflix 007 Dark Horse Comics Travel Channel Pop Rocky Black Mirror Mystery casting book Family dramedy cinemax The Arrangement Baby Yoda worst MCU tv talk Reality Competition worst movies jamie lee curtis Holidays comics TCA Winter 2020 Star Wars Spectrum Originals war Netflix Christmas movies OneApp child's play Women's History Month obituary spanish YouTube Opinion IFC Films Musical adventure streaming documentary Music 21st Century Fox Crunchyroll transformers screen actors guild Marvel elevated horror Epix Cartoon Network Winners San Diego Comic-Con TV Land TCA talk show 45 cancelled TV shows hollywood satire political drama BET Awards directors Paramount Network Video Games Fantasy The Purge Adult Swim free movies The Academy Syfy Kids & Family Mary poppins TV renewals Pop TV breaking bad Apple TV+ joker hist historical drama CW Seed name the review Turner Classic Movies Mindy Kaling best stop motion docudrama social media The CW crime drama Podcast Star Trek supernatural universal monsters Grammys ABC Crackle CBS Action Disney Channel game of thrones Disney+ Disney Plus serial killer Amazon Prime Video TCA 2017 Rom-Com reboot BAFTA Captain marvel Winter TV Teen Food Network Hulu boxoffice children's TV Fox News kids Anna Paquin dark green book die hard reviews critics discovery Calendar A24 TLC screenings Horror finale Song of Ice and Fire cats