Starz Howards End star Hayley Atwell, “I hadn’t read the book”

By Gabrielle Pantera @gpantera

The four part drama is a BBC adaptation and starts April 8th, 2018 5pm 

Hayley Atwell

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2018/4/6 –“I was talking to Emma Thompson about this,” says Howards End star Hayley Atwell. “In her portrayal of Margaret, she said ‘E.M. Forster is one of literature’s proper feminists.’ Although they’re not making a congressive point of, look! women are smart as well, they just naturally are. It’s a given. You have these two central roles of these women who they are logical. They’re analytical. They’re rational. They use their reason.”

“I grew up as a sort of working-class girl,” says Howards End star Tracey Ullman. “The class system perpetuates in my country and in this country too, and that’s what fascinates me about it. And it’s still tough for girls, curious, liberal girls, like Margaret and Helen, and Bohemians. But they have some inherited wealth, so you’ve got the comfort of money, but you couldn’t have had a job if you wanted to.”


“What I knew of E.M. Forster was that he was a writer who was kind of on the edges of the Bloomsbury set,” says Atwell. “I knew the film. I had seen the film a long time ago.”

Atwell is referring to the 1992 feature film starring Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave, that was produced by Merchant & Ivory. Writer Kenneth Lonergan adapted the scripts for the new BBC version. Hettie McDonald directed the series.

“When they said Kenny’s adapted it, I went, ‘Now that, to me, is interesting’,” says Atwell. “To have someone who would do something like Manchester by the Sea and Margaret and Analyze This and Gangs of New York and all this kind of rich, very varied body of work, to then adapt something like this. And the script, there wasn’t anything, kind of, reverential about it or sentimental. It didn’t romanticize. E.M. Forster doesn’t either.”

“I hadn’t read the book,” says Atwell. “I was reading it for the first time with the script. The script in mind and Kenny’s adaptation in mind, and was able to use the book as references to fill in certain gaps that weren’t necessarily in the script. Certain details kind of enforced a lot of the choices that we made in the scenes in terms of props or kind of gestures or something, relationship details.”

Based on the classic novel by E.M. Forster, Howards End is set in Edwardian London. Two sisters, Margaret and Helen Schlegel, from a well off family are both idealistic and intelligent. They are also confined by the Victorian rules for women. After their parents death their Aunt Juley tries to steer them in what she feels is the right direction.

The two women search for love, independence and financial security. In that quest, they must deal with class differences, their own poor decisions, interference and face financial ruin.


  • Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel
  • Philippa Coulthard as Helen Schlegel
  • Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox
  • Tracy Ullman as Aunt Juley
  • Julia Ormond as Ruth Wilcox
  • Alex Lawther as Tibby Schlegel
  • Joseph Quinn as Leonard Bast
  • Rosalind Eleazar as Jacky

Twitter: @STARZPR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *