Ophelia Lovibond on ‘Tommy’s Honor,’ Jack Lowden by Uinterview

Behind every strong man there is a stronger woman. Or so goes the old adage. And in Tommy’s Honour, the new film about the creation of professional golf, Ophelia Lovibond says it rings just as true.

Ophelia Lovibond Video: Exclusive Interview

Lovibond plays Meg Drinnen, the wife of the Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden), the first man to pursue, what is now considered, professional golf. The true story takes place in the mid-to-late 1800’s, a time when women were expected to be nothing more than obeying wives and mothers. But Meg chooses, very bravely, to live her life differently.

“Her attitude was just completely different,” Lovibond told uInterview exclusively.

“When I was researching Meg for the role, I found a lot of parish notices from local parishes that said she was really very strident and outspoken. Traditionally, she would have been chided for that but they actually celebrated it. She never really got any kind of retribution for that because she was firm but polite.”

This sort of balance is what attracted the real life Tommy to Meg in the first place, Lovibond believes. Additionally, both characters came from working class families and bonded over their place in the social hierarchy.

“She was never this cowed individual in front of aristocracy or in front of her supposed superiors. She just thought of them as other people and I think that [Tommy] responded to that because he shared that insubordination, as it was seen,” said Lovibond. “It wasn’t common to see that in a woman in that kind of, low, working class, to stand her ground and not be spoken to in a way that she didn’t like.”

While both characters shared a deep connection, Lovibond and Lowden were only meeting for the first time when the film began to shoot. Despite a cursory introduction, the on-screen couple found working together to be quite a joy.

“I actually first met Jack [Lowden] on the first day of filming and the first scene was our wedding,” Lovibond recalled. “So that was quite weird because we literally shook hands and then the scene started to be directed.”

Nonetheless, it worked.

“I think there was a very easy report there that we think made shooting the movie really fun. There was a lot of mucking about and not taking ourselves too seriously.”

 


Q: How much did you know about Tommy before this film? -

I didn’t know much about the story, I mean I’d heard of him but I didn’t know that much so it’s not a subject I am naturally inclined to research or anything like that. But then I got really interested in it from reading the script. Golf isn’t something I’ve been attracted to so why would I? But then when I started reading it, that’s when I was really interested to learn that the players didn’t get paid, people who put them up to play got the money. I just thought, how did that ever come about to be a thing? And then the fact that my character, Meg, points that out to Tommy and says, “You should have the money, you’re doing all the hard work.” And that just hadn’t occurred to them before because that wasn’t the done thing. So that’s when I got more interested in it.

Q: You play Meg. Why was she such a controversial figure? -

Meg was a bit older then Tommy and for the time that was particularly controversial because she would be seen as, kind of, not good enough for him because he would need someone fresh and young and all that kind of stuff. She came from Whitburn, she lived in Whitburn, and she came from a low-income, working class family and she had worked all her life. She had this previous life, well they say previous life, but you learn in the film the mishaps that occurred to her and she didn’t let it got on top of her, she continued working. But people were always attach that stigma to her but she never saw it as a stigma, she saw it as something to be very proud of. And so when she is confronted by Tommy’s mom, she points out that this is not a stick to beat me with, this is really something to show empathy about. Her attitude was just completely different. When I was researching Meg for the role I found a lot of parish notices from local parishes that said she was really very strident and outspoken. Traditionally, she would have been chided for that but they actually celebrated it and she never really got any kind of retribution for that because she was firm but polite. So what you see of Meg in the movie, that is what she was like. There are diary entries and accounts of her being that way. But again, she wasn’t the traditional subservient wife.

Q: Why was Tommy so interested in pursuing Meg? -

I think that she was self possessed that she was witty and she wasn’t rude. She was never this cowed individual in front of aristocracy or in front of her supposed superiors she just thought of them as other people and I think that he responded to that because he shared that, you know, insubordination, as it was seen. It’s not common to see that in a woman in that kind of, low, working class, to sort of stand her ground and not be spoken to in a way that she didn’t like. She pushed away initially because she knew, ‘You’ll just get stigmatized, you’re a young guy, don’t get attached to me because I’m soiled goods as far as society is concerned.’ She didn’t want to put that on him. But then when he said, ‘I don’t care,’ she said, ‘ok fine, you get it.’

Q: How did you and Jack prepare to play husband and wife? -

I actually first met Jack on the first day of filming and the first scene was our wedding so that was quite weird because we literally shook hands and then the scene started to be directed. I was doing a play and I couldn’t get away. But immediately there was a report, which is really lucky because we had never met before. I’d heard of him and everything and his various accolades but I’d never met him. So that was a real stroke of luck that we just hit it off. I think there was a very easy report there that we think made shooting the movie really fun because there was a lot of mucking about and not taking ourselves too seriously.