Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of sexual assault in One Night is TV’s must-see performance right now

Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of sexual assault in One Night is TV’s must-see performance right now

As well as playing a rape survivor, Jodie takes on the challenge of playing a queer character too, which in our current climate where straight actors playing queer roles is heavily debated is no small challenge, either. For me personally as a certified member of the LGBTQIA+ community if an actor is straight and plays a queer character and it’s handled sensitively or it’s nuanced it’s a-ok with me, but not everyone agrees. I wonder if that pressure weighed on Jodie’s mind?

“For me the most important thing is an audience member’s response and if that person is the right casting. I’m failing my job if within that we didn’t believe that Tess and Vicki (Kat Stewart) should be, and would be, together. The main thing for me is authenticity in my portrayal – as someone who isn’t a survivor of a sexual assault as well – and making sure that if someone’s watching this that I don’t stand out to them as a person who isn’t representing this in the right way. I adored that marriage between Tess and Vicki because it was so complicated and realistic to me, regardless of whether it had been two women, two men or a man and a woman. The relationship was so truthful that I felt that it was only left for me to f**k up. You just don’t want to be bad casting for something.”

Jodie certainly doesn’t “f**k up,” and playing Tess was certainly challenging for Jodie on many levels, a challenge she powerfully rises to. But one of the challenging aspects for Jodie was playing someone so closed off, when she is naturally a big personality and big sharer. “Playing someone who gives nothing away was fascinating and also I thought, ‘what a random choice I am for that role.’ And when I read it I was like, ‘I can’t f**king do this.’ So, I definitely want to play it! I’ve got a weird thing about my personality where I like to do things that I definitely think I can’t do,” Jodie says.

Another challenge altogether was Tess’s Australian accent -which may I just add Jodie nails. “My character’s been in England for 20 years, which was my get out of jail free card whenever I struggled with the accent or we did any improv and I improvised in half Yorkshire and half Australian,” she laughs. “I worked with an incredible dialect coach who had a lot of work on their hands. I landed on a Tuesday and we turned over [started filming] on the Friday and I was a lot further off [the accent] than I thought. I was really cocky going in. I thought I was going to absolutely smash it and I was like, ‘yeah, I’ll need a couple of hours.’ And then we got in and I was awful. I was terrible and I’d been so ignorant to the dialect as well. Just because I’d watched Home and Away and Neighbours, I thought I was a hundred percent qualified for this role.” It’s a good job Neighbours made a comeback just in time then…

‌As our time wraps up I wonder in a career which has seen Jodie reach so many heights and done so many varied roles, what her guiding principle in her career is. “The best times I’ve had on a job are because A, everyone has a sense of humour and B, isn’t an asshole. So don’t be an asshole because it is so much more fun and it is so much of a wonderful experience for everyone if nobody is having a sh*t time at work… Don’t get above your station!” A lesson in life for everyone: don’t be an asshole from a very straight talking Gemini.

One Night is streaming on Paramount+ now.

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