An highly-anticipated adaptation of Irish author Sally Rooney’s debut novel “Conversation with Friends” premieres this weekend, following in the footsteps of her book-turned-television hit “Normal People”.
Alison Oliver and Sasha Lane star as ex-girlfriends and now best friends Frances and Bobbi, who meet older married couple Melissa and Nick, played by Jemima Kirke and Joe Alwyn, during a Dublin poetry night. The story follows their different relationships as their lives become intertwined.
Reuters spoke to the actors about the series, which premieres on the BBC and Hulu on May 15, and pleasing fans of the book.
Below are excerpts edited for length and clarity.
Q: What’s the central conversation of the series?
Oliver: “What I took from the book was that you can’t really control (things)… so much for Frances is control and she realizes you can’t control who you love or how many people you love. You just love them and hope for the best. I think that’s a really interesting message and a journey that they all go on.”
Q: Did you feel pressure to please fans of the book?
Alwyn: “It’s nice to be a part of something… that people love so much, of course… there’s nerves in that you want to do justice to the book and characters that people care a lot about. But alongside that is an excitement and a privilege to be asked to be a part of (it) and that means a lot. You have to put those nerves aside, at least when making it.”
Lane: “It’s a show and it’s based on the book… they are two different things. You had real people acting these out, taking emotions that are written down or not even fully… it’s through Frances’ perspective and you’re writing in that way and then you put it into a show where you’re actually including these characters. It’s just a whole different thing.”
Q: Were there any unexpected challenges during filming?
Kirke: “The challenge of being a mother and being an actor is one that’s not talked about very often, especially as a single mother. It’s actually not a thing. It’s not possible to be good at both. One thing is always lacking on one side… (the) most time I’ve spent away from my kids is probably six or seven weeks and the only other mothers I know who I know of that do that are army moms.”