mea challenging period for your industry, actor Sian Clifford seems almost embarrassed at how busy she’s been. In 2020, the 38-year-old West London actor co-starred ITV drama Exam – the story of the “cough” scandal in Who wants to be a millionaire – and Kim’s surviving mother (Maisie Williams) in Two weeks to live in the sky. In July, she won the TV Bafta for Women in a Comedy for her portrayal of Claire, the uptight sister of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fleabag. Clifford has already completed several projects for 2021, including Caramba, a filmed tragicomic play written by Lorien Haynes about two friends reconciled in grief, in which she stars alongside Nikesh Patel.
Caramba it has been described as “neither theater nor cinema”. What is it?
I’m coining the word “plilm”. It is not a play or a movie, but a movie. There could be a better word out there; I am open to offers. But it is a total hybrid. We don’t shoot it in a theater. We shot it in a studio. But the play is absolutely phenomenal. You are exploring the stages of grief, but it is not linear. My character has lost his best friend and Nikesh’s character has lost his partner. It’s devastating, but a lot of fun. It is also an experiment that I gladly participated in to keep people engaged in the arts during this time.
You’ve known Patel for a while, which was also true with Waller-Bridge in Fleabag. Is it more difficult to act with a friend?
It depends on the friend, but certainly, in my experience, he is absolutely joyous. And with Phoebe that continues: we will work together forever. We never talk about how to play those sisters, more or less because we are already sisters. We are not the Claire and Fleabag dynamic, of course, but we do have a connection. It’s just very deep. With Nikesh on Caramba, we didn’t have a great deal of time. And the connection between Adam and Cat in the play is the axis on which everything else revolves. And I felt that in order to do justice to this work in the time we had, I had to work with someone where you can get it for free.
The Bafta awards were handed out at Zoom this year and you seemed really surprised to win. People often say that they hadn’t prepared a speech, but was that really true of you?
I’ll never forget that feeling when it was announced and I almost threw up on my laptop’s camera. He had absolutely not prepared anything. And there was a panic 30 seconds before because all of a sudden I was sitting in someone’s garden with terrible Wi-Fi and the Zoom organizers were yelling at me and Phoebe. [who was at the same location, and up for the same award, but the organisers wanted them to have different backgrounds on Zoom] to enter a different room. It was very Fleabag that moment, I have to say.
Were you surprised that Fleabag it was a success
The former I thought would work well, but I also knew that it was new and weird, and that people really wouldn’t like it. So the response to that was overwhelming enough. But when I read the script for season two and she, excuse my French, had a brilliant idea at the end of episode three, which is where the priest breaks the fourth wall. [speaks directly to the audience], I just thought, “Oh, okay. So you are literally trying to change television. “
Some very famous people have been very frank in their love for Fleabag. Have you had unexpected meetings as a result of it?
Oh yeah, definitely doing the awards circuit in America. The American Film Institute Awards made an exception and recognized Fleabag, and that’s basically where we met Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt, literally bragging about Phoebe is hands down the most surreal thing I’ll ever see. I just shook his hand. Ah, shake people’s hands. Thank goodness the coronavirus hadn’t arrived then, that would have ruined that meeting. But we laughed for the rest of the day, it was so stupid.
What have you enjoyed culturally during the confinement?
Television is where the magic is right now. My number one choice was I can destroy you, which is a visual poem, and then of course, Normal people. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much pain seeing anything. My other top thing was The last Dance. I had nothing to do with basketball before I saw it, nothing. Now I feel like an expert. But I loved it, I think I saw it in one day.
It’s an awesome binge!
Thank you. I am a true binge watcher. I saw the whole of This country. I’m talking about series one to three, in one day. Yes, I do.
At the beginning of the confinement, you talked about having a “daily dance party.” Have you kept that?
That is a lifelong thing. If you feel stuck, or you feel depressed, or you feel disconnected or even if you feel happy, whatever it is you are feeling. I love to dance regardless of the weather. It’s really powerful to allow yourself to do crazy and wacky shapes that you normally wouldn’t do when you may be trying to impress someone on the dance floor. And really allow the music to move you.
You mentioned that your relationship with Waller-Bridge is “ongoing.” Is there something in particular that you are discussing?
There are many things that we are discussing, but what I look forward to most all over the world is that we work together again. Yes, I have no doubt that it will be a magical reunion. And we are Both very excited about something in particular, but I can’t tell you more than that.
Good Grief is available to view since February 15, tickets from £ 39
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism