Honor Kneafsey has most recently starred in two new feature films – Agatha Christie’s Crooked House as Josephine, alongside a cast including Glenn Close and Max Irons, and A Christmas Prince as Princess Emily for Netflix. Previous screen projects for Honor include Benidorm, in which she played series regular Jodie Dawson across Series 8 and 9, the TV movie Babs as Young Barbara Windsor, and mini-series Our Zoo as June Mottershead across all six episodes. Also having theatre experience, Honor has previously played Gretl in The Sound of Music at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Speaking to Honor, we find out about working on Agatha Christie’s Crooked House as Josephine, filming for A Christmas Prince and her first regular role of June Mottershead in Our Zoo.
How did you find the experience playing the role of Josephine in Agatha Christie’s Crooked House?
Josephine was a great character to play as she was very different to the other parts I had previously played. Josephine was a mysterious person and seemed to know everything that went on within her odd family. Most of my scenes were with either Glenn Close or Max Irons which was just an amazing privilege as they are both an incredible actor and actress and such lovely people.
Was it a lengthy auditioning process for the role?
As auditions go it wasn’t too bad, but the day of the recall it happened to be on the same day that my family and I had flown back from America. While I was asleep on the sofa, my mum woke me up and told me the good news but if we were going to make the recall we had to leave straight away and of course I wanted to go because I really wanted the part, luckily it paid off when they offered me the role a week later.
How long did you have to be on set for?
I think it was about four weeks filming for Crooked House. The places we filmed in were stunning. They were huge houses with gorgeous grounds and surroundings.
Where did you film A Christmas Prince and what was it like playing Princess Emily?
I filmed A Christmas Prince in Romania which was really nice as I had never been there before. At first, we were in the mountains in the snow which was lots of fun, although very cold. Then we went into the Centre of Romania and the weather was really warm, it was definitely one extreme to another. But I loved playing Princess Emily, although it was very challenging being on crutches because I had to know how Spina Bifida would affect Princess Emily. Therefore, I researched Spina Bifida, to see how it affects people.
You played Jodie Dawson in Benidorm, how long did you have to spend abroad while filming the show?
The first year I filmed in Benidorm I was in Spain for just over three months and then the second year I filmed for about a month and a half.
Did you have to do any research on Barbara Windsor before playing Teen Barbara in the BBC biopic film, Babs?
When filming the part of Teen Barbara Windsor, I had to do a lot of research into her cockney accent and her mannerisms so I watched interviews that she had done and I watched clips of her in the Carry On Films. I also had to learn her dance routine Sunny Side of the Street which Barbara Windsor taught me herself, which was amazing as that was the real routine she did as a child.
How much fun was it filming Our Zoo as June Mottershead?
Our Zoo was a “one of a kind project”, I was so lucky to have got the part of June. Everything about it from the people to the animals, “wow that just doesn’t sound right,” but it was just amazing. I had so much fun filming every scene of Our Zoo and we were like a family on set. I still remember everything about it.
Have you had any embarrassing moments on set?
I am yet to have an embarrassing moment on set but I know they are to come. However, I went into an audition once, I went to shake the director’s hand but he didn’t so I just pretended I had an itch on my head. I must have gone really red. Also, when I was a lot younger and I went into an audition and they asked me my name, they thought I had said Orla and told me what a lovely name it was. As they had complimented me on my name, I didn’t want to correct them so I just went with it.
What was your first acting role?
My first ever job was at six years old for a Disney Ident which was great because they had a huge table full of food and sweets, I felt like I was in heaven. My next job was extra special as I got to be in the TV series Sherlock, but what made it so special is that it was with my sister.
Would you like to do any theatre shows in the future?
I have previously done some musicals, I played Gretl in The Sound of Music at Regent’s Park, I was in Scrooge and I was a soloist in Evita. I love filming and musicals, but they are completely different. I’m just going to see what happens in the future.
Have you performed in any school productions?
No, I haven’t ever been part of my school productions as it is hard to commit due to other acting projects and I wouldn’t want to let everyone else in the production or my teachers down.
Do you have a technique for learning scripts?
I think I am very lucky when it comes to learning scripts, I go up to my room, go over the lines and then ask my sister to test me when I’ve learnt all of them.
How easy is it fitting back into ‘normal life’ when you’ve been away filming for a role?
When I take time off school I don’t really tell anyone or make a big thing about it, I only tell my close friends and some of my teachers as I need to get work for when I am away. I do always feel a little nervous when I go back into school especially if I have been away for a long period of time but I just go back and don’t say much about what I’ve been filming.
How did you get into acting?
I got into acting because of my sister, Ilana. When she was younger she was extremely shy so my parents saw this advert for local Stagecoach classes to boost her confidence. My sister did a local show and got spotted, she then got invited to audition for the lead role in the West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to cut a long story short, she ended up getting the part and at the end, the production team said she should get an agent, me being six years old said I wanted one too!!
Apart from acting, is there anything else you enjoy doing?
I actually love school and I am lucky to have some really good friends. I also love dancing, I do all different styles of dance which takes up a full day on a Saturday and I have some great friends there too!
What would you like to have achieved by the time you are twenty?
Twenty years old feels like ages away but it’s actually only seven years away. I just want to become a successful actress. It doesn’t matter what age I achieve this at it is just what I would really like to do. I would love to be the main character in a really huge successful feature film. I would love to play a part like Jane Bond, James Bond’s daughter. I would love to play a part like this.
What advice would you give to young people wanting a career in acting?
I would say to anyone although it is an extremely tough industry, don’t give up on your dreams and you have to want it yourself. You have to enjoy being on set, there is lots of waiting around and the audition process can sometimes be tough, and you shouldn’t be forced into it. I love acting so much and enjoy everything about it.
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