Keeley "You" Interview (Dec 2005)

Another transcript of an interview Keeley did for You magazine in December 2005. Thanks to kls010 for the scan! I'm posting this on Darcylicious because so much of the interview also discusses Matthew Macfadyen. But, please be aware, that many of the Keeley interviews will only be posted on in the future.


Touchy Keeley

She has unlaced the period drama with a lesbian love affair and an unlikely romp with Steve Coogan while she was eight months pregnant. But, says Keeley Hawes, nothing compares to the real life drame with her very own Mr Darcy

Report Maureen Paton Photographs Colin Bell


Keeley Hawes has a hot date who picks her up at Baltic a chic restaurant on London's South Bank where I've just interviewed her over a bottle of chardonnay. Suddenly oblivious to my presence, they stare avidly at each other. It's a great advertisement for the continuing pleasures of married life, for although she and Pride and Prejudice star Matthew Macfadyen have been hitched for a year now and have a baby daughter, Maggie Liberty, Keeley and her Mr Darcy still seem to be enjoying a blissfully extended honeymoon period. They don't have a nanny for Maggie and Myles- Keeley's five-year-old son by her former husband- so I ask who's babysitting for them that evening. "My ex-husband, actually- how good is that?" Keeley blurts out with a gasp of gratitude.

Pretty damn good, in fact, considering all the hoo-ha surrounding Keeley's break-up with Spencer McCallum in 2002. Only eight weeks after getting married to Spencer, Keeley found herself falling headlong in love with her Spooks co-star Matthew. Myles was just 20 months old at the time. A few weeks later, she left the marital home in Esher, Surrey, though Matthew stayed in his bachelor pad in London's Shoreditch while she moved into a flat in St John's Wood for a while. Nevertheless it was an immensely tricky time for all concerned. Keeley, who remains adamant that "nothing had happened" between her and Matthew before she left Spencer, later admitted that the subsequent experience of divorce was "horrific" - up there with death as one of the worst things that can happen".

But what a difference a few years can make. Spencer, a freelance cartoonist who works from home, lives near Keeley and Matthew's cottage in Twickenham's Strawberry Hill. Thanks to their civilised childcare arrangements, the two men even take it in turns to look after each other's children. "Both Matthew's parents and mine have been together since they were very young, and if you come from that kind of background it's something you aspire to - which made it all the more difficult when my first marriage broke up," says Keeley. "But that's sort of by-the-by now, and everyone concerned is much happier.

I ask if Spencer has found someone else, which always helps to speed up the healing process in these situations. "I don't know - I'm sure he will, he's quite coy about it when I ask him," she says. "We are very good friends again now. And Spencer and Matthew get on really well - more than I thought they would."

She eventually married Matthew in a quiet ceremony at Richmond-upon-Thames's Gergian register office in November 2004 when she was seven months pregnant with Maggie. "I love being married, I really do," she declares impulsively. "it makes me feel very content and cosy and happy. We just slipped off and did it with two friends as witnesses. We went to the boutique Joseph beforehand and Matthew chose a brown 1940s-style dress for me. I couldn't imagine anything worse than going and buying the traditional wedding dress with somebody doing my make-up, because I do that every day with costume drama." Indeed, Keeley got all dressed up again to star in a new TV adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree which is being screened this Christmas.

It's a first marriage for Matthew, who was single when he and Keeley were cast as leading members of the MI5 team in BBC1's Spooks. After Spooks, against massive competition, Matthew won the role as Darcy opposite Keira Knightley for the big-screen version of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Keeley can't hide her own pride in his tormented, tufty-haired Darcy, a performance of vulnerable intensity that more than held its own against memories of a wet-shirted Colin Firth in the role ten years ago for the BBC adaptation.

And her Mr Darcy bowled her over in real life, too. "Matthew just came straight out with and said, "I love you," in the rain one day. I thought, "Oh dear, here we go," she recalls. "ButI thought he was lovely, and it was all for the good in the end," she adds, marvelling at how things have worked out. "Myles gets the best of both worlds because he sees his daddy all the time and he sees us all the time. Matthew and I met when Myles was just one and a half, so he got the practice in early with childcare - he's quite a relaxed daddy as a result."

So much so that Keeley, 28, lets slip that she and 31-year-old Matthew would like another child of their own. Playing the childless Ella Macbeth in a recent BBC1 update of the Shakespeare play has made her all the more aware of other women's vulnerabilities. "I tend to become pregnant quite easily and I'm very aware of how lucky I am with that," she says. "I would like another one; we have been talking of adopting a baby, too, maybe from China because I was so moved by the documentary The Dying Rooms about Chinese orphanages. I come from a family of four children, so I'm used to a houseful. And Matthew's definitely broody. Although the pair we've got already rub along so well, two more would make no difference to that. Myles loves his sister, he dotes on her and she on him. I can't wait for Christmas because Myles is the perfect age for it and Maggie will love the lights. Myles said to me the other day, "Mummy, we must take some of my toys to the charity shop. If Father Christmas sees all my toys, he won't give me any new ones," she says, yelping with laughter, a very Keeley characteristic.

When you see Keeley and Matthew together, you realise how much this attractive, unassuming yet undeniably golden couple are suited to each other. According to Keeley, they're a good balance temperamentally: "He's very calm. I'm the fiery one, but when I start going off he just says, "Shut up" quite calmly," she says with another giggle. Yet although their pairing seems like destiny, they come from different backgrounds: Matthew went to public school before Rada, while she's a London cabbie's daughter. But Keeley, the only one of her family to go into show business, became a real-life Eliza Doolittle when she took elocution lessons as a child and learned poise and confidence at the Sylvia Young stage school alongside Emma Bunton and Denise van Outen, before a spell of modelling as a teenager. "An actress should be classless. It's an old-fashioned view that all actors are posh, and I don't feel intimidated by Matthew going to boarding shool," she maintains. And in terms of talent, it's a true marriage of equals, since both she and Matthew have become known for quality roles; as Keeley admits, "We are both lucky enough to be able to choose the work we do."

She made her screen debut in Dennis Potter's Karaoke, went on to paly the young Diana Dors, made her name as the besexual heart-breaker Kitty in the lesbian costume drama Tipping the Velvet, and is now one of the most sought-after actresses in television, with a rare versatility in both costume and contemporary drama. Matthew can do ancient and modern equally well: having made his first impact on the television scene as the foppish young gambler in Antony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, he thn earned rave reviews in Stephen Poliakoff's Perfect Strangers and as Prince Hal opposite Sir Michael Gambon's Falstaff in Henry IV Parts One and Two at the National Theatre.

As a result of Matthew's acclaimed performance in Pride and Prejudice, he has been sent "masses and masses of scripts," says Keeley. "I don't mind living vicariously through him; there's a huge machine that comes with big-budget films and he's coped with that very well, but it's much too frightening for me. Matthew has a lot of integrity in his work and his life, and that's stood him in good stead. He's a lovely, gentle man; I have faith in him, which makes for a very relaxed relationship. Because when you are both acting with beautiful people all the time, you need to be utterly confident with each other. Yet he even said to me the other day, "I would be happier if you were half a stone heavier." I love that man!" she exclaimes ecstatically. "And I'm quite confident that he feels the same about me."

He would be a fool not to: the tall, fine-boned Keeley has been admiringly described as "a racehorse" by no less than the legendary American film director Robert Altman, who certainly knows how to pick winners. No wonder she wears a Chloe tweed jacket so well when we meet, peeling it off during the interview to reveal herself as a perfectly womanly size 12 in a black camisole. "I've got Mr Darcy, I can't let the standards drop, you know," she giggles. It amazes Keeley that she's still landing such roles as the 22-year-old virgin Fancy in Under the Greenwood Tree. "I thought I probably wouldn't be asked to be the object of young love again - yet here I am, being bombarded by three suitors, including Steve Pemberton from The League of Gentlemen. It was fantastic working with comedians" says Keeley, who also plays Steve Coogan's wife in the forthcoming Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.

Modelling made Keeley supremely comfortable in her skin, and she has since gone to bed on screen with the best of them, such as Jonny Lee Miller in the film Complicity and Richard E Grant in Karaoke. Yet her scene under the sheets with Steve Coogan in A Cock and Bull Story was unusually ticklish, since it was shot when Keeley was nearly eight months pregnant with Maggie. "I've never laughed so much. Can yo imagine what it was like for Steve on top of me, trying to cover up my big belly?" she laughs. But the naked rear we see in long shots is not hers. "I've never been shy about love scenes. But when you've had children flashing your bits around isn't quite the same. I was so pregnant that I don't think people would have wanted to see my bottom," she explains. "So they very kindly had this lovely bottomed lady there as my stand-in, and I was delighted when even Matthew thought it was me at first."

No wonder Matthew recently admitted in one interview that he found marriage "very sexy". So is he as sexy in private life as his delectable Mr Darcy? "He's not bad" giggles his wife, which in Keeley-speak means very sexy indeed.

Under the Greenwood Tree will be shown on ITV1 on Boxing Day. A Cock and Bull Story will go on general release next month.


11 December 2005