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

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