Harriet Slater

Photography
Jemima Marriott
Lighting assistance
Eric Anderson
Photo assistance
Kelly Guibal
Styling
Lucy-Isobel Bonner
Makeup
Michelle Webb
Hair
Sophie Sugarman
Manicure
Ami Rai using Bio Sculpture

If you’ve never heard the name Harriet Slater, there’s a good chance you will by this time next year. The British actress has been busy filming a slate of projects that began airing in January and continues to announce. There is a warm and bubbly aura that surrounds her, as well as a genuine humility that makes hearing of her forthcoming successes feel as though they are your own. It feels odd to use the adjective upcoming to describe Harriet’s recurring appearances on big and small screens alike, as she doesn’t seem to be reaching for shinier things. Instead, she is grounded and appreciative of the roles she has played and where her talents have landed her, which happens to be Scotland, where she is busy filming the highly anticipated Outlander prequel, Blood of My Blood.

Slater is no stranger to the world of fandom, having previously starred in DC’s Pennyworth. But since her most recent casting announcement, fans have been flocking to her socials in droves. While not much else is known about the show at this time, Harriet’s talents can be previewed in her other projects, which include Belgravia: The Next Chapter, a period drama currently airing on MGM+ and Tarot, a horror film about a cursed deck of the sacred cards and the repercussions that come with reading them.

     

During her brief downtime, we spoke with Harriet about what she misses about Belgravia: The Next Chapter, getting chased by monsters for Tarot, joining the Outlander family, and more.

You’ve had a very hectic schedule of late, or maybe just all these projects you filmed are releasing back-to-back. How does it feel to be booked and busy? Do you feel booked and busy at all? 

It’s funny because I spent half of last year shooting Belgravia: The Next Chapter. I think we shot from February to June. But then, in the second half of the year, I was just chilling. So, I don’t feel like I was all that busy. [laughter] I think it’s just a coincidence that everything I’ve been working on is coming out around the same time. I shot Tarot in late 2022, which feels like ages ago now. After that break, I’m so grateful to be working again. Having downtime is important, but it’s unavoidable and difficult sometimes because you never know what or when your next job is going to be. It really makes you appreciate employment when it comes around. This business can be a tough game, and I feel so lucky every time I get the opportunity to work and do what I love for a living. 

 Let’s just go down the docket. Belgravia: The Next Chapter runs until March 10th. Does having the episodes out in the world make you miss anything in particular about production?

I miss everything about that job, to be honest. I absolutely loved it from start to finish genuinely. It was a literal dream come true. Belgravia: The Next Chapter was the role and the show that I’d always wanted to be in. We had the best cast that I could have ever hoped to have worked with and the best crew. We had such a great time. I was so lucky to have been paired with Ben [Wainwright] who played Frederick, my husband in the show, because we just got on so well from day one. When you just click with someone you know, the entire process is going to be fun. It was a really special job and the most wonderful bunch of people, both on and off the screen. We had a blast. Everyone on that show was so good at what they did and worked so hard to make it the best that it could be. Most of all, I miss hanging out with everyone and making something that we all really believed in. I also miss playing Clara. She’ll stay with me.

That’s all really lovely.

I really also liked the fact that they’re showing it one episode a week because it feels like it lasts a bit longer. Sometimes, you spend all this time working on something, and then suddenly, it’s all released. That’s it like in one go. It’s done. I’m quite enjoying the fact that they’re showing an episode a week and putting clips out there and little photos each week.

I agree! When shows are released all at once and are “binge-able,” people talk about them for like a week, and then it’s like, “Okay, next thing.”

We’re starting to get back to the olden days when we’d all sit down at the same time on a Saturday night to watch the same thing. [laughter] Sometimes, it’s quite nice to have to wait for something.

In what ways do you think Clara changes most throughout the episodes?

Oh, that’s a good question. I think she learns a lot about the way the world and relationships work. Her template growing up was her parent’s marriage, which was loving and affectionate and full of laughter – on the surface, at least – and so it’s a shock for her when her own marriage turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. She also learns to live for herself more and more throughout the series. She begins as a bit of an outsider to the circle she finds herself in and spends a lot of time feeling intimidated and stifled by it, and worries about fitting in and not letting her husband down. But as she gains confidence in that world and in herself and becomes more independent (and with the encouragement of the Marquise, whom she looks up to in many ways), she starts to put her own happiness first and fights harder and harder for the things that she believes in.

In May, you have Tarot, which I will be watching through my fingers. Even the trailer made me jump. So my first, very unserious question about it is: Now that you have been a blonde. Do you think Blondes have more fun?

Ha! I mean, I had a lot of fun on that job, for sure. The team was great, and shooting a horror was great fun – it’s a genre that I really enjoy, so I was excited to jump back into it, having shot The Haunting in Wicker Park earlier that year. But I couldn’t wait to be a redhead again. I didn’t really feel like myself when I was blonde, which was definitely helpful for the character. But I much prefer my natural state of being!

I’m so curious about the filming process for this film because I’ve always thought that if I could get cast in a horror film, I could win awards because it wouldn’t be acting. I would actually be scared. How much of what people will see on screen was VFX? Did you have anything to act across from?

I think it varies from project to project. I don’t know exactly how much VFX will have been added in post-production, but I do know that the monsters that we were all running from on set were real. Well, they were real people dressed in the most amazing, terrifying costumes and makeup. So when we’re running, we’re really being chased. There were no tennis balls on sticks, which was genuinely scary at times! But hugely useful as an actor!

Were you able to sleep at night afterward? 

No! [laughter] 

Have you ever had Tarot cards pulled? 

Never! We had a Tarot expert working with us on the film, Angie Banicki, who was lovely and taught me how to make it look like I knew what I was doing because my character had a lot of experience, and I knew very little about it. But having learned so much from her, I’d love to have my cards pulled. I think it’s fascinating.

The project you are currently working on, Blood of My Blood, is the second time you’ve done a project that already has an established fanbase. Does filming feel any different for those, or is there any added pressure?

Good question! It feels really nice to know that there is already such a solid fan base of people who love the show and the world so much. It’s been so nice to have that support from them on this. Plus, I feel like we’re in very, very safe hands because we’re working with the same team that created Outlander, which has done so incredibly well. In that sense, it feels really nice. It was the same with Belgravia: The Next Chapter. It’s really helpful to have seasons that are already out to watch to get immersed in the world in a way that you can’t when something’s brand new. But, on the other hand, when something’s brand new, it has its own benefits because you’re creating it yourself, and you have complete ownership over it. To be honest, I feel like we have that with Blood of My Blood as well. Like with Belgravia, you don’t need to have seen the other show to enjoy this one because it is its own thing, even though it belongs to the same universe.

You haven’t been there long, but so far, what is your favorite thing about Scotland?

The beauty of it. It’s very hard to find an ugly view up here! We’ve already shot in some stunning locations, and I’ve visited a few more on days off. Being in Glasgow is brilliant because you don’t have to drive for very long out of the city until you’re in the wilderness. Coming from London, the air up here is a treat for the nostrils. And I’m a big fan of Glasgow itself. There’s so much to do and see, and the people are lovely. It’s got a really great atmosphere.  

You recently had a birthday. Any birthday wishes you’re willing to share?

I’ve just realized that this year was the first year I didn’t make a wish when I blew out my candles. What a waste ha! I’m very grateful to be where I am right now. I’ve got my health and a great job, and I spent my birthday with the people I love the most – what more could I want?

Since we had so many projects to talk about, I want to end with this: which two characters do you think would best get along?

Oooh, interesting. Since I can’t say much about Ellen right now, I’m going to go with Clara and Haley. Actually, I think they really would get along, even though they were born 150 years apart. They’re both romantics at heart and are trying to navigate their troubled relationships and a few other obstacles. Scandalous paintings and cursed cards are the same thing, really! [laughter]

Tarot hits cinemas from May 3rd.