New WWS Podcast Series Debuts with The Last Kingdom’s Eliza Butterworth
Our first episode of That Scene, That Song features Eliza Butterworth. The actor, singer, dancer, drummer and an utter joy to listen to spent time with Misan Harriman recounting two songs and two films that have shaped her outlook on life, work, and that have profound personal meaning.
Butterworth is best known as Lady Aelswith on Netflix’s The Last Kingdom. She will soon join Colin Farrell and Jack O’Connell on BBC miniseries The North Water.
Hailing from Lincolnshire, Butterworth first got into acting “late in the game” at aged 15 after a teacher had her perform a comedic sketch. Though shy at first, her performance received laughs and from there. She says, “I remember just being bitten by the bug…thinking ok that’s why people like standing on stage and doing theatre.” By age 18 Butterworth was a student Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the rest you can say is history.
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Four months after graduating, Butterworth bucked the struggling actor trend and scooped a role in The Last Kingdom. Now in production for Season 4, the series follows the life of King Alfred the Great.
Butterworth plays Lady Aelswith, wife of King Alfred, in turn played by Butterworth’s real-life husband, David Dawson. Aelswith is a Lady Macbeth-esque lover and confidant who challenges Alfred.
Here, Eliza takes time out from filming in Hungary to talk about the films and songs that have made a profound impact on her.
From attending RADA and being cast straight onto The Last Kingdom to a deep-dive into the specific movie scenes and parts of songs that had a profound affect on her life growing up.
Listen to the episode to find out what films and tracks have left on lasting impression or scroll further down for some spoilers.
A Single Man (2009)
Directed by Tom Ford, adapted from the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood.
Favourite scene: When main characters George (Colin Firth) and Jim (Matthew Goode) lose all sense of containment and go running into the sea.
“[It is a] scene of just utter joy which is such a juxtaposition from some of the early scenes where you see him (George) really contemplating suicide.” says Butterworth. “Wow, isn’t it just amazing the power somebody can have, just a little moment where you have experienced joy beyond and that can take you from feeling the worst in the world to actually going I can survive another day.”
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s love letter to the quirks of Paris and its inhabitants.
Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautouas)’s neighbour Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin) is captured throughout the film painting the same scene over and over but is never happy with it. Towards the end of the film, Amélie sends Raymond a video of momentous and moving moments in arts and sports. In the scene, a painterly figure becomes a metaphor for the movie’s lonely protagonist.
“You just see him watching it and just going from sheer disappointment in what he has been doing day after day, to just opening his whole world up and going wow that is what the planet had to offer, I had no idea,” explains Butterworth.
There’s a cohesion to Butterworth’s choices, with both scenes hinging on a brief human interaction and the power of a kind gesture.
In her musical selections, the 26-year-old proves herself to be an old soul. Small wonder, perhaps, given that she’s currently playing a woman almost twice her age.
Une Barque sur l’Océan, Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel’s impressionistic piano movement, Une Barque sur l’Océan (1904-05) a sea-faring composition that “goes from twinkling, light waves to a thunderstorm” before sailing “back out into the beautiful calm of the ocean”.
“I remember just thinking – how come this song genuinely makes me think I am on the sea? Just through the way it was composed, the certain instruments used, the melodies and how it really told the story from the beautiful serenity into no this is the blustery, eye of the storm. A full blown journey,” says Butterworth.
Give Me The Night, George Benson
And, by way of contrast, the opening bars of George Benson’s infectious 1980 funk classic, Gimme The Night.
“You can’t help but smile and be so joyous,” says Butterworth. “Especially when it it comes to dancing.
Whether she’s talking 70s disco or the vocals of Billie Holiday, Butterworth takes a magpie’s approach to culture, and her passions rarely derive from her generation.
Along the way, the young actress talks characterisation, overcoming vulnerability, and her desire to go back to the classical texts that RADA gave her a love for.
Episode recap by Mary-Jane Wiltsher and Emily White.
In each episode we discuss with our What We Seee family the power of film and music – really getting into the details of great art. That Scene, That song is produced with generous support from the team at Another Studio. Episodes can be enjoyed on Apple Music, Spotify or wherever you find great podcasts.