I meet Heida Reed in an industrial coffee shop on London’s Southbank – a far cry from the rolling hills of Poldark’s Cornwall. Out of her corset Reed, 29 and from Reykjavik is completely unrestricted when we chat about the show that catapulted her into living rooms across the country and in which she plays Elizabeth. If you know the series you will know all too well that this is the character who went against the national consensus and turned down the advances of Poldark himself, Aiden Turner.
Indeed out of her eighteenth century petticoat and in her monochrome ensemble of skinny jeans, a leather biker jacket and a ruffled polkadot top, she’s beyond babe’ing, a feisty feminist and in possession of a freshly cut bob to rival Rachel Macadams.
Heida certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to Aiden Turner’s now infamous abs. Nor does she mind discussing the rape scene that made an entire nation question their alliengences to said hero. And is pretty vocal when it comes to discussing just how sh*t social media can be for one’s self esteem. Oh and being SO 2017, Heida is also part of a very raucous Poldark WhatsApp group. Don't forget to watch the actress play Poldark vs. 50 Shades in our Joshington Hosts video above too.
“The funniest thing the cast have shared on the Poldark WhatsApp group is the porn parody. It’s really funny! I haven’t seen it but I’ve seen a screen grab of it which has been shared amongst ourselves. Aiden even texted me the other day saying, ‘where was that thing again, can you send it to me I want to show my friends.’ He was played by this big guy - I mean it’s a parody so of course – and comes after ‘Down on Abbey.’ We should all sit down and watch it one day!”
“My toes have got weird twitter backlash. I remember one time I saw someone say that Elizabeth had ugly toes - which I wasn’t very pleased about – following a scene where I dropped my dress. I mean those are my toes, so cheers for that! I’m not even offended because who gives a sh*t about whether they’ve got nice toes or not, but the fact that ‘they’ needed to write that is so obscene!”
“My relationship with social media is really psychotic. It’s like a boyfriend that you keep breaking up with and then going back to. Sometimes there are really great times, like I love following certain people. But when I’m in the limelight and everyone’s tweeting about it, it's tricky, it’s like looking for a bump on your body. You are scrolling through to make sure that there's nothing negative, but you won’t quit until you find something negative. It's just a real psychological minefield. I try to take a step back and remind myself that their opinion isn’t my problem.
“I feel a lot of pressure doing intimate scenes. I’m in a show where I’m doing a lot of nudity for the first time. It was difficult at first but I've come to understand that it's not about being me. It's about how I looked naked or in underwear and how people perceived me. It was quite refreshing and liberating to realize that the pressure society puts on you is actually ultimately pressure you're putting on yourself. I jealized that I’m in control of what I want to look like, how I want to present myself. How people perceive me shouldn’t affect me. You’re supposed to look like a Victoria Secret model and although that would be great, I want to play people, not goddesses. I feel like the pressure we put on female bodies is changing and I want to be a part of that change. I don’t want to be a part of the old system where the lollipop heads were everywhere. I don’t think that’s healthy and that’s not encouraging to future generations.”
“I watched the Gogglebox reactions to the controversial Poldark rape scene. I knew there would be plenty of reactions and I already had my full share of conversations about that scene. I actually thought there would be more of a tendency to blame Elizabeth whereas I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that people were very disappointed with Ross. I think that’s where the blame lies; it doesn’t matter what she did and I guess that’s the conversation. When this happens in real life there is always a conversation about what that girl did to lead to that situation and that is utterly ridiculous, completely horrifying and unfair. So that’s a conversation we need to try and change. Women should be able to do whatever they want in the refines of social restraint and not be raped - it’s very simple! Also, it’s important to remember it’s a story, it’s a scripted scene and it’s great people had a conversation on the matter but they are very flawed characters, like every human being is.”
“Aiden’s abs are in a world of his own. It was a 30 second long scene, he had his top off, he was smiling and that was it. It was interesting how large it became and how huge the subject became, because it wasn’t even a sexual scene. In fact it wasn’t sexual at al. He just had his top off and people had sexual fantasies. I think men and women have always been put in positions of objectification, but it has been interesting to see how the tables turned. In Poldark it was Aiden who was Aiden more than the women. I’m not going to say that was refreshing because I don’t think it should happen to anyone.”
“I am not motivated by awards - I’m not acting in Iceland because I want that Oscar! I seek out brilliant characters. I don't think you should ever lose that as your main driving force. Maybe I am doing something wrong, maybe I should be aiming for an Oscar, but that isn’t the kind of actress I am.”
Poldark airs every Sunday at 8pm on BBC1