The books we read as children shape our lives a lot more than we realise. They teach us valuable skills like how to communicate and improve our speech, but they also inspire us.
Everyone has a book from their childhood that they hold dear to their hearts. For bookworms like me, that list of books is never-ending, but there is one author that sticks out to all of us, Beatrix Potter. The tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends continue to shape the lives of young readers, even though The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1902, way before our time.
Her stories have now come to life on the big screen, with Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne and James Corden taking on the immeasurable task of introducing Peter and co. to new audiences around the world. I spoke to Rose Byrne all about Peter Rabbit 2, reading with Domhnall Gleeson and the books she grew up with ahead of the sequel's release.
The actress plays the endearing and strong Bea in the Peter Rabbit movies, a role she was overjoyed to take on again. “Bea gets wooed by this fancy publisher and compromises her heart for money and popularity. We see what that does to her and her family. It’s dealt with in a more funny way and that allowed me to have more fun with the part.”
“I was nervous and excited, it’s such a fun part because it’s such an imaginative retelling of her [Beatrix Potter]. She is a beloved, iconic, legendary literary figure in the very fabric of so many childhoods, including my own, so I knew we would be under scrutiny.”
The actress portrays Bea in such a touching and witty way that makes her feel like a familiar figure you’ve known all your life. She’s such a strong female protagonist and that power and determination stems from Byrne herself. The actress is incredibly passionate about women’s rights and hopes to play more powerful figures in the future.
Byrne is looking forward to playing more textured, layered and complicated roles in the future. The actress was praised for her portrayal as Gloria Steinem in Mrs. America, “There are so many great roles for women in long form television now. The ability to go to different mediums is really encouraging as an artist. It gives you the chance to flex different muscles.”
When it comes to the characters that shaped her, Judy Blume's stories were her everything as a young teen.
“I grew up on a diet of so many different books, but as a teenage girl I just loved Judy Blume. I devoured all of her novels. I can still vividly remember some of the chapters from her books. They were really seminal as a young reader.
Today, like the rest of the world, Byrne just can’t get enough of Sally Rooney. “I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and go with Sally Rooney. Domhnall Gleeson introduced me to her on the set of Peter Rabbit. He was reading Normal People and had already read Conversations With Friends and he read it in a day. He couldn’t put it down!"
“He never really reads on set, he’s usually quite riveted so I knew it was a big deal because he was so quiet," she laughed.
Gleeson then passed the books onto Byrne, who enjoyed both novels immensely, “I’ve now passed them to other people and even bought them as presents. I’m firmly on the Sally Rooney train.”
Speaking of her friendship with Irish actor, Domhnall Gleeson, she gushed: “Domhnall is the best. He’s a true artist. He’s a true eccentric. He truly cares about the work whether it’s an action movie… He’s just brilliant. I hope we do another film. I just adore him. We always have a good laugh, it’s something very particular to the Aussies and the Irish… I’m sure we’re related.”
Peter Rabbit 2 is in UK cinemas from May 17, so hop on down and enjoy this heartwarming family film filled with laughter and adventure.