Tanya Moodie discusses her mum's influence on Empire of Light

Tanya Moodie says her mother's history working in the NHS helped to inspire her performance as a nurse in Sam Mendes drama Empire of Light.

The Motherland star plays Delia in the film — hard-working mum to Micheal Ward's character Stephen, who forms a surprising romance with cinema manager Hilary (Olivia Colman).

"I felt an extra layer of responsibility because my mother is a nurse," Moodie told Yahoo UK.

Empire of Light is in UK cinemas now.

Video transcript

TOM BEASLEY: I wanted to ask if you felt sort of an extra layer of responsibility playing a nurse in this because it's such an important part of society.

TANYA MOODIE: Do you know what, I felt an extra layer of responsibility because my mother's a nurse.

TOM BEASLEY: [LAUGHS] So's my wife, so--

TANYA MOODIE: Exactly, do you know what I mean? And like so Mummy's retired now and like-- so my mother was the head nurse of the operating theater, so she didn't have any front-facing responsibilities at all. She was always in the back wearing scrubs. So she had never had anything kind of like cute and sexy-- sexy, cinched nurse's [? waist ?] to wear like Delia did, you know?

She was always-- she was in the back specializing, you know, with a heart surgeon doing all that stuff. Always like organs around. I remember going to visit her at work and she'd have-- she'd have-- she'd say, oh here, play with this. And she gave me a jar with an appendix in it once. And these are the kind of things I had to play with as a child. This is why I am the way I am.




TANYA MOODIE: So yeah, I didn't-- you know, in terms of that, in terms of everything that's happening with the NHS and all the stuff, I didn't-- you know, my focus as an actor is to just be truthful, authentic. Authenticity 100%. And for me, that's the focus on my objective as the character.

I-- basically I decided that Delia occasionally dates. So if like or something or Tinder existed then, she would have been on it and had the occasional date. And so she has gone on a date to that cinema to see something like, I don't know, "Smokey and the Bandit" or something, do you know what I mean? [? 95. ?]

TOM BEASLEY: I'm sure Tinder in Margate in the '80s was hopping.

TANYA MOODIE: Can you imagine? And it was all newspapers. Do you remember back-- I [? can say ?] remember back then.

TOM BEASLEY: Oh yeah, lonely hearts.

TANYA MOODIE: You're literally a child.


TANYA MOODIE: Oh my God, Tanya. Think about who you're talking to. He doesn't remember that. He doesn't remember [? Loot ?] and going-- and going--

TOM BEASLEY: I try my best. I try my best.

TANYA MOODIE: GSOH. Lonely in Margate. No, yeah. So Delia was-- occasionally went to the cinema.

TOM BEASLEY: It was like Tinder, just a little slower.

TANYA MOODIE: Yeah, extremely so. Have I got any post yet?