Main content

“I have a theory about Jed and Jonathan” – The Night Manager’s Elizabeth Debicki answers your questions

BBC One fans told us what they’d most like to ask Elizabeth Debicki who plays Jed Marshall.

What did you think when you first read the script and are you glad it's had such a good reception?

I fell in love with Jed immediately. I loved her ambiguity and sense of humour and the storyline between her, Pine and Roper. I thought it was brilliantly written - it was my first entry in to le Carré and it was thrilling.

Jed is much more dynamic than the typical 'girlfriend' in spy shows. What attracted you to play her?

I feel like she’s quite a complex character with her strength, fragility, insecurity and inconsistencies. What I love about Jed though, is how she’s created a persona for herself and sometimes she’s better at keeping that up than other times. There’s a recklessness about her and you’re not quite sure where her agenda lies.

Is Jed really unaware and clueless of Roper's schemes up to a specific point, or does she know about it from the beginning?

I asked myself the whole way through. I was in her head the whole time, grappling with it as Jed. I think Jed is intelligent and knows that where the money’s coming from is not 100% above board. What I think that Jed has managed to do for the sake of her own sanity, survival and mental health is to block out the fact that she’s suspicious and attempt to live in a forced ignorance.

The interesting thing about watching Jed’s journey is once she has that information she can’t go back to the way things were. With the knowledge of how things are, her life’s forever changed.

Why are Jed and Jonathan risking everything? They know exactly how dangerous their love affair is but they're still holding on. Why?

I have a theory about Jed and Jonathan. They’re both really fascinating characters and they’re both pretending to be people that they’re not. Jed’s whole life is based on this lie of being Roper’s woman - there’s an element of it being an act, a sort of charade. She’s very good at it but it is a persona.

My theory is that the second Jed and Jonathan met, they recognised that they were people pretending to be something that they weren't.

The other thing to remember is that Roper’s world is very impenetrable, so when Jonathan comes in he’s completely fascinating. He’s an outsider. The existence of an outsider is not to be underestimated when you live in a bubble when every single person that walks in or out is checked by security guards. That’s where it starts.

Truly, I truly think they love each other. They want each other. They sense an escape in each other.

What's it like to work with Tom Hiddleston?

It is glorious. It is a privilege because Tom is an incredibly actor. He is really incredibly committed and focused on set. We’re both perfectionists and we feed off that in each other. As a person, I only have the most wonderful things to say about him. He’s an absolute gentleman.

Was it a fun set to work on?

It was. It was very intense to shoot because for all its seeming frivolity and glamour it’s a very dark world. With Tom, Hugh and myself working together, there was an electricity that was very, very intense as Roper becomes so dangerous throughout the story.

Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander are some of the loveliest, funniest and wittiest people I've worked with.

How was working with Susanne Bier?

Susanne is the best sort of director to work with in the sense that she pushes you to investigate parts of the character and parts of yourself or the scene in a way that you didn¹t even think you were capable of. She’s always searching for the truth of each character. That’s what you want in a director - someone who pushes you to places you didn't think you could go to.

What is your favourite memory from shooting this series?

I have so many. I have two that I’ll tell.

One favourite memory was going to a souk with Olivia. We went on a mission to buy a rug and I’ll never forget Olivia, pregnant in a souk being so lovely to everyone who tried to sell her everything and I thought it was absolutely hilarious.

What was it like working with Hugh Laurie?

It was magnificent. He makes the most incredible Roper and I couldn't imagine another soul inhabiting that character like Hugh because he is so menacing. So much of that menace comes from his intelligence. There were a few times playing Jed to his Roper that I felt like he could see straight through to my soul. I actually get goosebumps thinking about it. On a personal note, I just think he’s despicably talented.

How was it to have John Le Carré do a cameo? Did he spend some time with the cast and crew?

The day that ‪Le Carré was on set we were shooting in Spain and it was absolutely one of my favourite scenes in the show. It was lovely to have him. I think we were all hyper-sensitive to the fact that ‪John Le Carré was watching us play his beloved characters. It’s not often that you’re playing a character when the writer is sitting at a restaurant table next to you, but he was the most wonderful, vivacious human being. He loved being on set and I loved his cameo.

Do you have a favourite quote?

It’s the scene in episode three, when Jed takes her clothes off and jumps into the ocean she says “beyond the ha-ha.” I loved it the first time I read it and it grew on me more and more before I played the scene. It felt like one of the moments when Jed was truly herself. She was really free. It’s one of the moments when we get to see how she really is without all of her skeletons in the closet.

More from The Night Manager