An actor’s debut as a filmmaker offers an opportunity to tell a different story, to show their creative voice in a totally new way. And when you’ve had a performing career as daring and exciting as Billie Piper’s, it sets expectations for something completely distinctive. If you’ve seen Rare Beasts, you’ll know she’s done exactly that, conjuring the chaos, rage and confusion felt by her central character, single mother Mandy, in an ‘anti-rom-com’. There was never any chance Piper’s first film wasn’t going to be one of the boldest, most out-there British debuts in years.
“During the writing process, I did what I felt was right for me and the vision of the piece,” Piper tells Empire in the British New Wave issue. “I didn’t think about it as a deliberate choice; I just wanted this particular moment in life to be truly represented in the film. And at the risk of it being too much, it had to perfectly mirror the levels of stress we’re all experiencing. It didn’t feel like I was going to go out of my fucking way to make this really hard work. It felt real to me as an experience.”
Having had a taster of such a widescreen, all-hands-on-deck experience writing, directing and starring in Rare Beasts, this kind of creative control is what Piper is hungry for, whatever comes next. “This is what I really want to focus on,” she says. “And I want to do it in this way. Hopefully, through time and experience, it’ll become more refined – but that’s something to look forward to.”
This month’s issue of Empire is a massive celebration of The British New Wave, showcasing 26 incredible directors, writers and actors driving cinema into a new era. On the cover, you’ll find Bukky Bakray, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emerald Fennell and Riz Ahmed – and the issue also features major new interviews and exclusive new photo shoots with stars such as Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Olivia Cooke, Jessica Yu Li Henwick, Olly Alexander, Weruche Opia, Morfydd Clark, Jessica Yu Li Henwick, and Henry Golding, and writers and directors including Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Prano Bailey-Bond, Remi Weekes, Kate Herron, Francis Lee, and Rob Savage.