A passionate love story about a young woman falling in love over and over again. This time, it is a story not only about who she falls in love with, but how she falls in love with herself and how she defies the ‘rules’ set out for women.
Emily Mortimer wrote and directed the series ‘The Pursuit of Love’ based on the classic English trilogy The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford set to release on Prime Video July 30th. Emily has taken the story everyone fell in love with and created it into a 3 part television series starring Lily James, Emily Beecham, Andrew Scott and Dominic West. We chatted with Emily about her love of the novel, her first time as director and the fun her and the cast had onset.
You have adapted this series from the original novel, what drew you to create this series?
I knew I had loved the novel growing up, I was a little devious to whether or not the world really needed another kind of period-costume drama about people in big country houses but I decided that I knew I loved the book and I felt very kind of close to that novel particularly, it felt so fresh, it felt so radical voice in a way- Nancy’s it is an unafraid voice, it is funny and fearless, allergic to earnestness and yet and somehow gets very emotional places, not avoiding the emotion and makes you feel so much, and its searing satire on the English upper classes in a way and very revealing as to what it is to be alive and what it is to be a woman and be in love and she deals with an interesting subject that seems very fresh.
For those who haven’t read the book, and have watched the series and now want to read the book, what can you tell us about the series, that some may find the same or different in the series?
It’s basically about two girls and their friendship and growing up in between two wars in England, and their cousins and they love each other very much but they’re very different, and one of the girls Fanny, shes quieter more considered girl who takes thing carefully who lives life in a more observant quiet way and her cousin Linda, is this firebrand of a person who just hulls herself at life and love and desperate for experience and adventure and all the things that were very hard to have as a woman in that time and as a woman even now actually in some ways; what is interesting about that relationship is the quieter girl has a mother who’s in a way quite similar to Linda who herself is somebody who threw herself at life and love and lived life to its full but who rejected Fanny and didn’t really bring her up at all so Fanny is in this strange position of being kind of fascinated and slightly in love with her best friend who reminds her terribly of the mother who abandoned her and I think that is an incredibly interesting start to a story and I think I maybe brought more of that dynamic out than the book does, the book definitely set it up but I worked it harder in a way, the feeling of- how would it feel to be obsessed by this girl who keeps running away from you.
This is your first directing job, how did you make the decision to take on such a project with such popularity?
It was Lily that actually suggested me for the job and I would never put myself forward in that way- and it didn’t even cross my mind and then Lily suggested me and something in me just thought ya I can and I will always be grateful to Lily for that because she needs to do that at all and it was a blind leap of faith on her part and I felt like there was something so wonderful about this and this young brilliant girl giving this much older girl an opportunity like that from that moment on I didn’t want to let her down as much as anything else I think that was a great inspiration behind this, I thought if Lily is going to give me this opportunity I better not mess it up.
What moments on set made directing so special, especially being your first directing project?
God, there are just so many but what I think was incredible was that we were shooting in lockdown and it was really one of the first productions to get up off its feet in England and I remember Andrew Scott saying I can’t believe I’m allowed to be at a party and there was a night we were in a club in Paris and we had a sexy conversation between Fabrice and Linda in the night club and I told the first AD to keep the music going after the last take and everybody had to go and dance because we knew that was the last chance we were going to get to fo that for- God still so we all managed to have a dance in the Parisian night club in the middle of the English countryside, and I remember the first AD said it was lunch and I remember shouting and was embarrassed for days because I was so sort of happy and I was like Steve you’re crushing our dreams! Which was kind of embarrassing we were having a moment.