Carey Mulligan On ‘Suffragette,’ Civil Disobedience & Feminism
Interview By uInterview Founder Erik Meers
Carey Mulligan stars in Suffragette as a working women in London during the height of the women’s rights movement.
Carey Mulligan Video Interview On Suffragette
Mulligan’s character, Maud Watts, is a composite of women at the time that received an unexpected call to action to fight for women’s suffrage. Toiling during the working hours as a laundress while maintaining her domestic duties as a wife and mother at night, putting energy into campaigning for the right to vote didn’t seem important to Maud – until it seemed vital.
“She’s just sort of getting by day to day, trying to survive, and kind of apathetic and kind of reluctant to be involved in any of the women’s causes,” Mulligan told uInterview in an exclusive video interview. “She meets these women at the start of the story who sort of inspire her and give her an idea of what her life could be like if she got the vote.”
In London in the late 19th and early 20th century, Emmeline Pankhurst, played by Meryl Streep in Suffragette, was a major leader in the women’s rights movement. It was she who encouraged the suffragettes to take action, as their speechifying was yielding no results. Under Pankhurtst’s leadership, the suffragettes motto became “Deeds Not Words.”
“[Pankhurst] encouraged people to be militant and to go out. People threw rocks into glass windows at shops and they scorched golf course greens and they chained themselves to railings and blew up houses and churches,” said Mulligan. “Their whole ethos was to take action and to not harm human life, but to destroy the things that mattered to men, which were property and communications.”
When asked whether she could see herself among the rock-throwing, fire-sparking masses, Mulligan struggled to commit herself to the possibility of partaking in such acts of civil disobedience. Whether or not she would rise to such an occasion, the British actress, who says she came into her own feminist identity during adulthood, believes that the women in Suffragette could be an inspiration for others.
“It’s hard to say that I would have the bravery and the courage to be able to do what these women did for myself,” Mulligan admitted. “I think part of what we loved about the film was the idea that this could inspire people to take action for somebody else, for someone who does need something that we already take for granted.”
Suffragette is currently in wide release.