Killing Eve

ZoŽ appears in the second series of this darkly comic drama about the cat-and-mouse game between an intelligence agent and notorious assassin. It came to BBC One and the iPlayer on 8 June.

Two Ladies

The world premiere of Nancy Harris' play, which stars ZoŽ as the wife of a head of state during a major crisis, is being staged at London's Bridge Theatre from 14 September to 26 October.

Britannia

Sky's epic drama about the Romans invading ancient Britain, starring ZoŽ as vengeful Queen Antedia, returns for a second series this autumn.

Social

Hip hip hooray! ZoŽís website is 17 years old today!

30 July 2019 01:36

This website was launched exactly 17 years ago today. That means itís now the same age as I was when I sat down at my desk back in 2002 and put together the first version of it...! ZoŽís many fans are certainly as enthusiastic as they were years ago, and her work (most recently a star turn in international TV hit Killing Eve) goes from strength to strength.

Special art and special words for a special day

Itís fantastic how ZoŽís creativity Ė her talent for bringing characters to life Ė inspires creativity among her fans, some of whom Iím delighted to be able to call friends. I treasure a Britannia-themed pencil case a friend, Karoline, made for me last year, while below you can see a wonderful portrait of ZoŽ by another friend, Rachel, who's a very promising young artist. Huge thanks to Rachel for creating this detailed artwork especially to celebrate the websiteís 17th anniversary. Iím privileged to have seen some of her other drawings, and theyíre brilliant too.

Letís also celebrate this special day with one of the most beautiful, endearing interviews Iíve ever read. Youíll love it too, I guarantee. Originally published in 1986 (when she was just a little older than I am now and already tremendously successful), the interview features ZoŽ and her dad, Sam Wanamaker, talking warmly about each other and family life, in addition to offering candid insights about the acting industry. Sam remarks proudly that ĎZoŽ has become a major actressí, while she praises his Ďspecialnessí.

A sweet photo of father and daughter from ZoŽís youth, as well as a lovely portrait of them in í86, accompany the interview. You can click on the latter to see a bigger version.

Sam and ZoŽ Wanamaker interviewed in 1986

Actor and director Sam Wanamaker was born in Chicago and has lived in London for the past 35 years. He is married to Charlotte Holland, a former actress, and has three daughters, Abby, Jessica and ZoŽ. He is very much involved in the plan to restore the Globe Theatre to its full Elizabethan glory. ZoŽ, 37, is the middle child, and has just been in John Mortimerís Paradise Postponed on Thames Television, and at the National Theatre in David Hareís double-hander The Bay at Nice and Wrecked Eggs. She lives in London.

Sam Wanamaker: ZoŽ was about three when I brought her over here and she has no recollection as far as I know of New York, which is where she was born. Sheís been brought up to all intents and purposes as an English person although, because of me and my wife, I think sheís got an American quality about her; her personality is so outgoing and unrestrained, itís very un-English.

When she was a child, you always felt this lovely outgoing personality which was delightful. She exuded charm, she gave her affection freely and openly, and she laughed a lot and enjoyed giggling and having fun. She was always performing, dancing or skipping or singing. She could pretend very well, and you could see there was talent there, of what kind we werenít sure, but I was concerned it might lead to her wanting to go into the theatre, and we worried about that. We sent her to dancing school and she loved to wear the tutu and dance around in it at home, dancing for you at the drop of a hat, you didnít have to encourage her Ė it was this constant irrepressibility that kept bubbling. She was not a child that complained, or was difficult, or sulky.

She was the kind of child everybody adored because she was so outgoing and warm and friendly, she had an instinct for giving love or friendship, and she knew what other people needed, and was able to give it freely.

ZoŽ was not a good student, she was much more interested in the social aspect of school, the friends and the playing around and so forth. She wasnít too keen on any sort of nose-to-the-grindstone process. I would try and help her and sheíd always give the impression that she was paying a great deal of attention, but you could see that it was an acted concentration: she could look me right in the eye, but she wouldnít hear a word of what I was saying. I gave up trying to help her, because she just wasnít really interested.

Anything to do with theatre or the entertainment world she loved and adored; we took her to the theatre a lot.

Of course it was inevitable, and a growing fear, that she would want to go into the theatre, and what we were concerned about was that where you have family from the theatre, itís almost inevitable for the children to drift into it, not because theyíve got the talent, but because they have the connections.

So when she wanted to go to drama school we said no. Itís a terrible profession, itís soul-destroying, especially for women, it destroys your confidence, it feeds insecurities, the employment situation is appalling, the risks are so great. Finally she said, ĎI am going to be an actress, I want to go to drama school,í and we threw up our hands and said OK. But I told her that I would not do anything to help her, that if she was going into this profession she had to make it on her own, on the basis of talent and not on the basis of nepotism. And she has proved us wrong: certainly she had the talent, certainly she did it on her own.

In her core sheís an insecure person, primarily due to the nature of our profession. Thatís despite the fact that sheís had the kind of success which is rare for a woman Ė to have been in almost continuous employment since she left drama school is an extraordinary achievement.

ZoŽ has become a major actress in this country and recognised as such in America. She is an asset to have in any production because she always produces something very special and individual. Thereís something about her that you like, you instinctively like ZoŽ.

ZoŽ Wanamaker: Ever since I went to school I was aware that I was different, I had a funny name for a start, Wanamaker. ZoŽ was a funny name too. Kids used to come back to my home, and I was slightly embarrassed because we seemed to live in a kind of luxury, our house had central heating, which was not normal in the Fifties and Sixties.

People used to stop my father in the street, and he would joke with them, he wasnít reticent or shy about it. People would say, ĎOh, I recognise you, youíre Sam Wanamaker,í and he would say, ĎYeah, thatís right.í An Englishman would be shuffling his feet and saying, ĎWell, actually, erÖí He would be very bold and that always embarrassed me.

He would come back from America and bring clothes which I wore to school. They were always bright colours and stripes and checks and people would ask, ĎWhere did you get that?í because they were very different. And I would say, ĎAmerica,í and that was thought of as something quite hip. They were eccentric clothes, my father has eccentric taste.

I thought he was very impressive, and I really thought he was somebody to be in awe of, always working with interesting people and interested in art and music. There was this thing of self-education, which I think is kind of a leftover from being a first generation American. He grew up in Chicago in the ghetto area, and there are romantic stories about him having to fight his way out of school because he was a Jew, and how heíd have to protect his older brother who was not very strong, and about being knocked around a bit. I thought those things were glamorous and eccentric and outrageous, and that made him have a specialness.

He always tried to make me learn because I had the concentration of a flea. He would try and make me do my times-tables at home and he used to frighten me. I was lazy Ė I am lazy Ė and I would look out of the window and Iíd be away with the fairies, and he would try and make me come back to reality.

I tried not to resent it, but Iím sure I did because I felt such a dunce and I wanted so much not to be. I would try to avoid him so I didnít have to have these sessions with the text book out on the dinner table, being humiliated. He would end up being angry with me and I would end up in tears.

He knew I wanted to be an actress, and he resisted it quite strongly. But he had to resign himself to it in the end. By that time I had started to rebel against him. It was a resentment, a great anger, and it went on until I left home. I felt he was obstructive, although I admired him and loved him. But part of growing up is going through those stages when you view your parents firstly as providers, then as obstructors, then you resent them and dislike being treated like a child, and then gradually you start to view them as people.

With boyfriends his attitude was that nobody was ever good enough Ė it was always, do they measure up? All daughters look to their father as a role model, and it always seemed that I got the ones who werenít like my father at all. My parents would try to be casual, but theyíd have to go through a grilling of some sort. My father would turn around, ĎSo what do you think?í he would say, and they would feel, ĎOh God, itís like Mastermind time.í

All children of actors have a problem because they either have to be better or as good as where theyíve come from. I didnít want to let my father down if he came to see a show. Iíd be very nervous about it because I didnít want to screw up, I wanted it to be right. He was part of a whole new wave of acting, and I wanted it to be as good as I could in that way. Now that doesnít bother me because Iíve finally found my own ways of doing things.

Sometimes weíve had times together where we would have a drink, and he would loosen up and talk about himself. He feels when heís talking about something he really believes in, like The Globe for instance, that his sense of humour goes out of the window, which is absolutely true, it does. Also his dealings with people donít have tact because he loses his temper. We have discussions like that, and theyíre very revealing, I look forward to those.

I respect his love for me, but I want to earn it. I suppose thatís a child thing again, you have to prove yourself worthy, and I want to do that, but not as much as before when I used to get cross or upset, because it seemed I was never good enough in his eyes.

Supporting The Globeís Sam Wanamaker 100 campaign

Adding the interview to the website at this point feels particularly appropriate, given that 2019 marks 100 years since Sam Wanamakerís birth. To celebrate that milestone, the theatre he built, Shakespeareís Globe, has launched the Wanamaker 100 campaign, aiming to raise £100,000 in his honour (as ZoŽ explains in the video above). In the spirit of celebrating both the centenary and my websiteís anniversary, Iíve donated today. I invite you to do the same, if you can spare anything, and am sure any donations will be much appreciated by The Globeís team :-)

Thank you, everyone!

Finally, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who visits this website and, in particular, to ZoŽ and her PA, Vanessa, for their encouragement and support.

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Most images used on this site are the copyright of their photographer, Ms. Wanamaker, and/or the production company of the show. Use of these images is covered under the fair use limitation in the USA, and the fair dealing limitaton in the UK.
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