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The Gentlemen Star Kaya Scodelario Would Rather Be a Mobster Than a Mob Wife

kaya scodelario netflix gentlemen
Kaya Scodelario on 'The Gentlemen'Christopher Rafael/Netflix

Not all inheritances are created equally. On the new series The Gentlemen, streaming now on Netflix, Eddie Horniman (Theo James) inherits his family's grand manor—and a sparkly title—despite being the second-born son. This doesn't go over particularly well with his brother, but a more important relationship for him to manage quickly becomes evident: the one with Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario), the de facto head of her family's crime syndicate, which uses the Horniman estate to grow pot—which throws the toffs enough money to keep the lights on.

The series, which was created by Guy Ritchie and is inspired by his film of the same name, smartly and stylishly follows Eddie's attempts to manage his new role and his relationship with Susie, which is flirtatious but also—and this isn't a spoiler for anyone who knows Ritchie's work—deadly. But Susie is more than just a hard-edged subletter, she's also Eddie's guide into his new life, and more often than not the only one around him who's got any sense of what she's doing. All told, she's a classic Ritchie character, foul-mouthed, fast-talking, slightly on the take, and utterly delicious.

Here, Scodelario tells T&C about delving into her dark side.

kaya scodelario netflix gentelmen
Theo James and Kaya Scodelario star in The Gentlemen, streaming now on Netflix. Christopher Rafael/Netflix

You’re playing a character who’s decidedly on the wrong side of the law. She’s certainly a drug dealer and perhaps a number of other unsavory things. What made her appealing?

When I had the audition come through, I was aware of the project, but I didn't know who the character was specifically. I thought this series could be really exciting, but I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t going to just be someone's girlfriend or wife who would slip into the background over time. I needed a bit of reassurance because I think this is unique in the Guy Richie Universe to have a female character who is front and center, and as powerful and interesting and violent as everyone else. I spoke to the writers and they all said, “yeah, we want to make her really interesting and a badass.”

When it comes to being a criminal, she’s also kind of the only adult in the operation. The guys she’s working with aren’t experienced.

She's the smartest one in the room, and when she's not speaking, she's observing. She knows what strings to pull, and I really wanted to take my time with her so we see throughout the series just how much power she actually yields. I like that she's quite subtle at the beginning that there are moments where she could be loud and she could be doing very violent things, but she doesn't—yet.

kayta scodelario the gentlemen netflix
Kaya Scodelario stars in the new Netflix series The Gentlemen, streaming now. Christopher Rafael/Netflix

How do you develop a character like her?

I really enjoy the research part of a job; I've always really liked having that time to prep. I did a little bit of research about females at the top of gangster families and things like that, but to be honest, she came to me quite naturally. Growing up, I went to quite a real London school; it wasn't a private school, it was a real London school and there were lots of interesting kids there with really interesting families. Some of my best friends came from families who were up to some naughtiness, and I remember within the families, it wasn't the dads I was scared of, it was the moms. So I kind of built her out of three moms in particular who I knew growing up and who scared the living shit out of me.

What did they do that was so scary?

They never raised their voices. I never had them shout, but they were the most terrifying people that I knew. I also loved them. They took care of me, they were nice to me, but there was this kind of knowingness to them that I thought would be fun with Susie. Then, what really brought her together for me was meeting the costume designer Loulou Bontemps, who's a genius. The way she envisioned Susie's wardrobe just tied her up so neatly for me. She's a chameleon: when she's with the rich people in the countryside, she's wearing tweeds and country outfits, and then when she's in London, she's a little bit more Kate Moss.

kaya scodelario
Kaya Scodelario, who currently stars in The Gentlemen, will next appear in a series about famed Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna da Silva. Styled by Jenny Kennedy, hair by Bjorn Krischker, makeup by Kenneth Soh.Kieron Webb

So, you sort of predicted the mob wife aesthetic?

That has been so bizarre. Like, is this a marketing campaign that we did somehow? I think it's exciting, but every time people describe Susie’s style as mob wife, I'm like, no, she's the mobster.

What part of the series are you most excited for people to see?

I hope that they pick up on the fun of it, that we are trying to make it fun. But it is got a very serious dark entertain and I think it's probably a little bit darker than people expect. it's Guy Richie, everything's very stylish and slick, but underneath it all, something very dark is actually happening.

How does playing a character like this affect you off screen? Do you end up thinking more like a gangster?

I grew up in that world a little bit; I was exposed to different people who weren't always towing the line of the law. And so to me, I've always seen humans with families and stories who aren't just good or bad. It was fun to bring that to my work, because work life has always been very proper and straight and down the line. I had a couple of friends who came on set to approve the realism of certain storylines and how things should look and how things should be done.

Have you taken to using the scary mother tactics in your own life?

I'm very lucky in that my son is a good boy; he's well behaved, and I don't know where he gets it from. He likes rules and he likes tidying up and it freaks me out sometimes. I'm quite open with my emotions with my kids, they're pretty used to me singing loudly in the kitchen at 9 am or screaming at a soccer match on the tv. I let them see it all.

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