Miranda Hart shot to fame in 2009 with the launch of the BBC sitcom Miranda. And with her character having the same name as her and described as ‘an unusually tall, clumsy, thirty-something woman, who frequently finds herself in bizarre situations’, you’d be forgiven for thinking the actress had been playing herself for five years.
But when our sister publication Woman’s Own meets Miranda to talk about her latest role as Miss Bates in the film Emma – based on Jane Austen’s classic novel – the 47-year-old couldn’t be any further from her awkward alter ego.
In fact, she’s much more self-assured than her (although she does find herself in bizarre situations in real life too!).
Here, Miranda opens up about getting more confident in herself with age and reveals that we could be seeing more Miranda in the future…
Hi Miranda – once the series Miranda had finished, did you find it hard to break away from that character?
It was a character in a clown persona that I’d taken on so much I needed a break from it, and it was time for me to say goodbye to her. I didn’t find it hard at first, but it’s harder now because it’s been five years and I really miss her. Whether I do more, I don’t know yet, but hopefully Miss Bates will lead to other roles – that would be delightful.
The costumes in Emma are incredible! What was it like to film in them?
All the costumes were amazing, but you become really aware of how uncomfortable women must have been then. I was like, ‘Oh, thank goodness, I live in a world where women can wear tracksuit bottoms and hoodies and slouch,’ because I just couldn’t have coped.
Your character, Miss Bates, is very upbeat – are you similar to her?
I actually probably prefer listening, rather than talking. I think in real life, I’m not shy, but I love to observe and sit back, and I find gossip really boring. But I think she’s definitely helped me continue on my journey of trying to be positive, despite everything. Hopefully, I’m also less annoying than Miss Bates, but I love her.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve been recognised?
There was a really funny incident when I was in a spa in Palm Springs. There were two women talking about an episode of Miranda where I was struggling to get into a swimming costume at a spa, but they hadn’t seen me standing there about to get into a Jacuzzi with them. So I just turned around and went, ‘Hello!’ and they screamed.
How confident are you?
I’d probably say very confident. Is that allowed? I suppose it’s the joy of getting older. You’re like, ‘Oh, I like myself, I am who I am, take me or leave me!’
Have you ever felt a pressure to look a certain way?
I definitely felt when I was starting out, ‘Oh, I don’t fit a mould that I’m meant to fit to be on television as a woman,’ but that was 25 years ago and things have really changed. We’re all beautiful and now I just feel lucky because, being tall, not being the pretty button-nosed person, but beautiful in a different way, I get to play amazing characters like Miss Bates. That suits me and that’s who I am rather than the romantic lead, so I’m just happy with who I am.
What’s left on your bucket list?
So much! I want to learn to horse ride, kayak and do animal conservation. But I feel blessed to have a real, big appetite for life and I have the confidence to take risks and go for it. So I really hope that I can do more career-wise and personally, just for larks.