Actress Hayley Atwell didn’t have to wait long after Agent Carter was cancelled — in fact, she ended up landing the lead role on another ABC television series, Conviction. In a conversation with Moviefone to promote the series, Atwell reflects on her career and recounts why she wanted to become an actress since she was a child and what was the best career advice she ever received.
Reflecting on her childhood, Atwell reveals that she was inspired to be an actress from attending theater with her mother. She says, “I was very shy. I didn’t think or didn’t know if I could do anything. I wasn’t kind of a showy kid at all. Didn’t have a showy mom either. But I loved theater, and she would bring me to theater. And I would watch the works of Helen Mirren and Fiona Shaw, Juliet Stevenson, Helen McCrory, Judi Dench — these women, these powerful women who were clever and they were empathetic, but they were also complicated. And I looked at them and I thought, ‘Whatever they are, I want to live in that world.’ And I felt that the actors that I aspired to kind of be in rooms with were ones who were aware of current affairs. They had strong opinions. They were willing to challenge themselves and their kind of muscularity and their ability to hold an audience for two hours on a stage. And what that really takes. So that, for me, was always what I wanted to do.”
When asked what was the best career advice that he ever received, Atwell first jokes, “Oh God, that’s really hard. Emma Thompson said, ‘Always wear matching underwear and matching bra.’ I do, and that really helps!”
Getting a bit more serious, she continues, “I’d say the main thing is: show up. Show up and be professional. And to be good at what we do, I believe I’m figuring it out how good I am at it, but it takes a discipline. And I think that can be a danger, that sometimes actors get to a point and then they can be lazy. And the minute I feel like I’m starting to dip, I get very scared. Then I get restless. Then I get bored. And I go, ‘I’m missing out on the side of being in this industry which is to be incredibly stimulated and challenged in many ways and to be privileged enough to be working with truly great minds.’ That’s what inspires me, and I hope that I keep going forward. So my main thing is I hope I always feel like an apprentice.”