As Last Night in Soho introduced Thomasin McKenzie to the world, its star was happily at home with her family on the other side of the planet. And, Terri White discovers, that suits the actor who doesn’t give a damn about fame just fine
Thomasin McKenzie suddenly bursts into laughter. We’re only a few minutes into our conversation, but the sound of her mum and sister singing ‘Mamma Mia’ in another room is too much for the actor. It’s the house she has been in for three months solidly, the one in which the 21-year-old experienced the biggest moment of her career to date just weeks before.
It should have been the event that announced to the world that Thomasin McKenzie — as the star of British director Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller-meets-horror, Last Night in Soho — had most certainly arrived. But instead of standing on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival — cameras flashing, cheeks aching, shoes pinching — McKenzie sat in her parents’ home in Wellington, New Zealand, some 11,500 miles away as the film premiered without her.
Because even as Europe opened up and everyone flew (or sailed) into Italy, McKenzie’s hometown remained in lockdown. ‘I would have really loved to be celebrating Last Night in Soho on such a grand stage,’ she says, just prior to the singing. ‘But I loved seeing the photos and the interviews. It looked like the whole team was feeling a lot of love, which made me happy.’ But did she feel sad: to sit and watch it happen without her? ‘Yeah, definitely,’ she nods. ‘The main thing for me is that I felt quite guilty to not fulfil my commitment to the film’.
Though McKenzie understandably describes watching on as ‘bittersweet’, it’s clear that being at home for an extended period — as she has been since wrapping on the BBC adaptation of the Kate Atkinson novel Life After Life in mid-July — is a rare treat for the actor. And as also becomes clear when we talk, the life she lives at home is somehow even more of a rarity.