The star of top TV series’ Lip Sevice and The Borgias, Brit actress Ruta Gedmintas has returned to the stage to play Astrid Kirchherr in Backbeat at London’s Duke of York Theatre. InStyle caught up with Ruta during rehearsals to talk new season style, beauty regimes and period dramas…
You play Ursula in the TV period drama The Borgias and you also starred in The Tudors. What is it that you like about working on period dramas?
I think what it was about The Borgias was that the scripts were fantastic; when I got the script for my screen test I thought that it was so emotionally taught, just beautiful. But when I’m on set doing period dramas it’s like being in the costumes makes you stand differently, makes you breathe differently, and it just gives you a different energy. Then you’re put onto these fabulous sets and because you never wear anything like that in daily life, you never see any of those style of buildings, you’re immediately placed into a completely different world. I think it really helps with performance, well I hope it does!
What’s it like putting on the costumes and make-up?
There’s never that much make-up [for The Borgias] but I had a wig because I’ve got short hair at the moment and that was incredibly heavy. I was always called about two hours before I had to be on set. Gabriella Pescucci [costume designer on The Borgias] is fantastic and she wanted everything to be really authentic so all the fabrics that were used were fabrics that would’ve been sourced then and the colour themes are just beautiful as well. The only thing she gave us help with was that when the corsets were a little too tight she would give us elastic thread to help us breathe. It’s quite a big moment getting dressed every morning but that helps you get into the character every day.
And it is the same for the men?
Yes, Francois wears these fantastic leather pants when he’s not in his cardinal robes so I think he just loves them. The boys really like it because it’s every boy’s dream to go around in knight’s gear or fabulous leather pants. They strut around loving it. They might pretend they don’t, but they really do.
You work alongside Jeremy Irons, did you take any tips from him?
I only did one scene with him but from what I heard from other people and what I learnt from that scene was that he really knows the technical side of film and TV making. It’s quite fascinating to have worked with him and then to see him on the screen because you think: “Oh that’s why you had angled your face that way!” I naturally want to do everything that’s truthful to me inside but sometimes when you watch TV, the story that you want to convey isn’t coming across and so you have to know technically how to take what you’re feeling inside and put it on screen. That’s what Jeremy Irons does very well, he knows how to make an audience feel what he’s feeling.
You share some steamy scenes with Francois Arnould. How do you find working on those types of scenes?
Francois is such a lovely guy. I’ve had to do a few sex scenes over various jobs and every time you do them it’s really quite unsexy. It’s like doing a choreographed dance and I’m very lucky that most of the people I’ve worked with on those kinds of scenes are really supportive and you just have a giggle about it.
And did you find the same thing when you were working on Lip Service?
It was great working with women because everyone understands your insecurities about things. There would be bargaining where we would say: “If I cover your thigh then you can cover my bum on this side.” It was quite good.
You’re working on Backbeat now, can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s the story of Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon and Astrid Kirchherr and The Beatles. It’s set in Hamburg and it’s at the time that Pete Best was the drummer, not Ringo Star, and it basically tracks that year of the relationships between the band and Astrid and how they came to be the four that we now know. It’s very much a view on the people and the relationships at that time as apposed to a biographic of The Beatles.
Are you a fan of the Beatles?
I’m a huge fan of The Beatles so it’s quite brilliant that every morning that I come into rehearsals I just get to listen to loads of their songs!
You modelled for the March issue of InStyle, was there a particular look from the shoot that you liked the most?
The photo that I liked the most was the orange MaxMara jumpsuit, it’s such a striking colour and it looked so great against the brick. I loved the styling on that shoot. I don’t tend to go too over the top with how I dress so it’s really nice to try colours that I wouldn’t usually or outfits that I perhaps wouldn’t wear. I like to have fun on photo shoots.
And is there anything fashion-wise that’s caught your eye for Autumn/Winter?
I’m obsessed with these Helmut Lang leather trousers that I had on a shoot the other day so I’m desperately trying to get some but they’re so expensive. I can’t quite warrant spending a month’s rent on a pair of trousers! But I tend to have quite a lot of leather in my wardrobe anyway so I quite like the fact that leather seems to be a feature this season. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m doing Backbeat at the moment but I seem to be compiling more and more of a Sixties look. And I’m now obsessed with Whistles, their collection this autumn winter is really beautiful, it’s really cool.
How would you describe your style day-to-day?
I would say that I tend to be a mixture of relaxed rocky style with cutesy French Sixties vibe. Somewhere in between that depending on how I’m feeling in the morning.
And do you have a go-to designer?
When I’m going to events I like Armani because I think they do a cross between my relaxed rocky feel and a really smart elegant look really well.
Do you have a beauty regime, are you strict with your skin?
I am, I’ve got quite sensitive skin so I tend to use Kiehl’s because it’s kind to your skin. I’m definitely an advocate of the classic always taking your make-up off at night and always moisturising. I’ll have a go at anyone that tells me they don’t moisturise!
Backbeat opens at Duke of York Theatre on 10 October
By Sarah Smith