Claire Foy as told to Vicky Frost from The Guardian
Joanna Lumley is just brilliant in Absolutely Fabulous – I love that she’s not afraid of looking like a wally
Perhaps because I now tend to play people who are quite miserable, or at least not at their happiest, in my normal life I try to be quite upbeat. I’ve always found Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous hilarious. My mum and my sister were obsessed with the show, so I grew up watching the show pretty much all the time – we even wore out the videos.
Jennifer Saunders is fantastic in it of course, but I really love Lumley as Patsy Stone. Rewatching it recently, I was even more taken by what an amazing character Patsy is, and how brilliantly Lumley plays her.
It’s her physicality that makes Lumley so funny: the fact that she’s this elegant, beautiful woman who, with just a stoop of her shoulders, makes herself look completely different. I love that she’s not afraid of looking like a wally, and she doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously.
She also always goes for it so completely. In television and film it’s all about being very subtle, but Lumley’s performance is so grotesque, yet also still believable. I find that sense of not really caring what you look like inspirational – I find it difficult to stand and have a picture taken, for instance, and not laugh at the absurdity of it all.
I also can’t imagine how she and Jennifer Saunders could get through the show without laughing. There’s this brilliant scene where Patsy comes in, moaning about non-smoking cabs, and lights about 20 cigarettes at once. As an actress I have no idea how she kept a straight face. I wish I could have been in AbFab – but God knows how I would have managed to stop myself laughing.
I didn’t watch when they brought Absolutely Fabulous back. I wanted to keep the show as I remembered it. I was in New York recently and saw Lumley in La Bete on Broadway with Mark Rylance. She was brilliant. But I think, in a weird way, I wouldn’t like to work with her. The funny thing about this industry is you sort of give up being in awe of something; you don’t watch things properly because you know what’s going on behind the scenes, and so the spell is broken.
Really, I’d just like to have a chat with her, and try to get her to re-enact scenes from AbFab for me. Although I’m sure that would not be entirely appropriate.
• Claire Foy will appear in The Night Watch on BBC2 next month.