Taking on the role of Meryl Grove, eldest daughter of Chief of staff Mr Grove (played by Tom Goodman-Hill), in hit ITV period drama Mr Selfridge, bright, young newcomer Lottie Tolhurst tells us what we can expect from her precocious character and reveals her dream roles.
Born in Kingston, young actress Lottie Tolhurst has done her fair share of preparation for her breakout role. Studying theatre
and dance before settling on acting as her main passion she studied at revered theatre School Italia Conti and has worked extensively in theatre. The fourth series of the show, and set to be the last, sees the return of the magnificent Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge and focuses on his inevitable demise as he loses the reins on his beloved department store.
Q. How did you feel when you found out you got the role?
Lottie: It is strange because you do all these auditions all of the time. You’re going in a few times a week and you’re sent all these scripts and you get so used to investing, doing loads of work and going into the audition saying ‘what will be will be’ then you have to walk away and just sort of forget it.
Casting directors often go with big names; there’s just so much that goes into those decisions - even your Twitter following. The fact that I am so new off the block can scare a lot of people. So luckily, really, really luckily, the casting directors and the director were willing to take a risk and not go with ‘a name’. I really just think it felt right. It just suited me so well, and it’s good to see new talent, rather than just the same faces over and over again.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about Meryl?
LOTTIE: She’s Mr Groves’ eldest daughter and she is 19. She’s clever, really caring and really compassionate, but she’s feisty and always trying to do what she thinks is right and sometimes that really gets her into trouble. She doesn’t really think before she speaks and so does put her foot in it quite a lot.
Q. It sounds like she’s quite a likeable character, do you think people will connect with her quite easily?
LOTTIE: I hope so. There are moments when you think she’s a bit of a spoilt brat, but that is from her upbringing; she’s grown up in a household having to be like the mother because she is the eldest of all the siblings. So she’s used to having a lot of power and getting her way and being quite hands on, but suddenly she’s in an environment where she should be observing hierarchal boundaries, but she just ignores it and goes for what she believes in.
Q: How was working with Jeremy Piven?
LOTTIE: I don’t want to reveal too much, but most of my scenes were with Tom Goodman-Hill and Amanda Abbington. Most of my experience was working with them so I can’t say what it was like to work with him, because I didn’t. But Amanda and Tom were absolutely incredible and took me under their wings. I learnt so much from them as actors, as professionals and just about the industry. It was just such a beautiful insight.
Q. Did you feel like growing up in Kingston helped your career choice?
LOTTIE: I got really involved in theatre. I went to Laines Theatre Arts, GSA (Guildford School of Acting) and Italia Conti at different points, that was a big part of my childhood. And I was very, very into my singing, my dance, all of them. Now I just do the acting part and I absolutely love that. So that area was really good for that.
Q: What would be your dream role?
LOTTIE: I really like portraying strong women and I really want to at some point portray the young Queen Elizabeth, or Victoria. Just brilliant female characters who at the time in their life were going so against the grain. Unfortunately these days a lot of the female characters are simply show pieces to the men; the Robin to their Batman. I really want to play those female characters that stand by themselves and have their own stories.