Georgina Leonidas starred as Stella in the stage adaptation of David Walliams’ hugely successful book Awful Auntie on tour before opening at Bloomsbury Theatre in London, running until 5th January 2019. Amongst her other theatre work, Georgina has played Millie Decker in The Small Hours at Theatre Royal Windsor and Lucia Amory in the UK Tour of Black Coffee, with both productions run by Bill Kenwright. Starting her screen career in The Basil Brush Show for a number of years as Molly, Georgina went on to appear as Katie Bell in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and continued her role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2, and still attends events and conventions with the franchise. Chatting with us, we found out from Georgina about playing Stella in Awful Auntie, her time in the Harry Potter films and being a guest lead in Father Brown.
How did you find your time as Stella in Awful Auntie?
I loved playing Stella. Even though the storyline is quite dark it was still very playful. We had a really amazing set, four towers that moved and spun, transforming the stage into the different rooms of the house where the play is set. There were hidden ladders for us to climb and even a bridge we had to jump off (onto a crash mat of course!). So there was always a lot to do on stage, bringing the book to life.
What were the rehearsals like and how was it seeing the audience’s reaction to the show?
We rehearsed for six weeks in a church hall and then had a week for tech rehearsal, which was the first time we stepped foot onto the stage. Tech rehearsals always move fairly slowly as it’s every aspect of the show finally coming together; the actors, the costumes, the lighting and music, everything. Then all that’s missing is an audience! And that’s always the most exciting bit! Awful Auntie has quite a dark plot, but in the style of David Walliams, we obviously had a lot of comedy in there too so it was always really great hearing the audience reaction, be it laughter, gasping or even boos and cheers!
Did you have a favourite scene to perform?
We had a chase scene where Stella escapes to find help but is caught by her Auntie and her pet owl, Wagner, who swoops down and carries Stella back to the house. We did this scene using rod puppets which was really cool! We controlled puppet versions of our characters, so I had a little Stella puppet and small scale pieces of set were brought onto stage making the world miniature! It was a really fun scene and I always looked forward to it! Learning how to puppeteer her was a lot of fun too, it’s quite a skill trying to make it as real as possible and bring her to life!
Can you tell us about The Small Hours and your character Millie Decker?
I loved working on The Small Hours, we only had a short run but it was my second time working at the lovely Theatre Royal Windsor and for Bill Kenwright. All the cast were brilliant, and I had previously worked with Deborah Grant on Black Coffee so enjoyed sharing the stage with her again.
What was Black Coffee like to be part of?
Black Coffee was such a lot of fun! We toured for six months and the cast and crew were such a pleasure to work with. I played Lucia Amory, a mysterious Italian woman and one of the murder suspects. A lot of the evidence points to her, but did she do it?? It was set in the twenties and I absolutely loved my costumes too.
You had a guest lead role in Father Brown as Emily Fletcher, what was this like to film?
Emily was such a great part to play. She was feisty and confident but also quite vulnerable so I really enjoyed trying to find all those moments. It was lovely getting to work with Mark Williams who plays Father Brown. We had crossed paths filming Harry Potter but didn’t have any scenes together, so was nice getting to work more closely with him on this.
Can you tell us about filming as Katie Bell in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2?
I had an incredible time playing Katie and working on the films. In the Half Blood Prince, Katie is cursed and working on those scenes was especially fun as I got to perform a few stunts and film underwater! And filming the battle of Hogwarts scenes in the Deathly Hallows was really epic! Sets were being blown up and they were massive scenes that took weeks to film as everyone was involved, so I have some incredible memories on and off set. I feel so lucky to have been part of such a special set of films.
How familiar were you with the Harry Potter series before auditioning?
I started on number six, so the books and films were already hugely popular. It was a little surreal at first, stepping foot onto those sets that had become so iconic and joining a cast of such talented actors. So, to audition and then be cast was definitely exciting.
We understand you attend conventions for your role in the films, what are these like to do?
They are great fun to do and it’s always nice chatting to fans about the series. The books and films mean such a lot to people and its always nice to see it being shared with the next generation too. It’s also a really nice opportunity for a mini reunion with other members of the cast!
What was Gemma Raven like to play in Wizards vs Aliens?
Such a lot of fun! Especially as I had to dye my hair jet black and dress as a goth! The show was great and we had a really interesting storyline about friendship and betrayal. Josie Lawrence played my mum too so it was really cool getting to work with her.
What do you remember from your time in The Basil Brush Show as Molly?
Ahhh I remember filming like it was yesterday! I have the fondest memories from my time on the show. I started filming when I was eleven or twelve up to the age of sixteen, so I grew up on the show and definitely learnt a lot. We do try and keep in touch, and had a reunion a couple of Christmases ago!
How did you get into acting?
As kids, my siblings and I were always putting on shows and asking (forcing) our family to sit and watch. My sister then started a drama class and I remember going to watch one week and decided I’d give it a go too! We then joined an agency and started auditioning and working professionally so it happened quite organically.
What are some of your favourite theatre and TV shows to watch?
I like all kinds of theatre, and living in London I’m very lucky to have some of the world’s best shows within easy reach. London also has some great fringe venues and I have seen some great plays Off West End too.
The last play I watched was Lucy Prebble’s The Sugar Syndrome and really enjoyed it. My sister had been part of the original cast when it was on at the Royal Court but I was a bit too young at the time to see it, so it was nice to finally catch it on stage. I also saw a play called The Jazz Age at The Playground Theatre recently, it was based on the lives of Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre. I absolutely loved it, it was such a stunning piece of theatre with music from a live band and the cast were incredible. I’m also a big fan of Philip Ridley’s plays. I saw Tender Napalm a few years ago at the Southwark Playhouse and it completely blew me away, I was left utterly speechless and that’s what I love about theatre, it has the power to really move an audience.
TV I watch a bit of everything but I love a good comedy series and who doesn’t love a good Netflix binge! (Other streaming services are available hehe). One of my favourite shows is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I keep going back to it, it never fails to make me laugh and the actors are all so good. I love Rick and Morty too, but who doesn’t! Still eagerly waiting for the new episodes to air!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I like reading and listening to good music. I’ve just started re-reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, they are definitely some of my favourite books! I’ve also started bouldering which is really fun and doing some yoga, I find it quite peaceful and a nice way to start the day!
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