Since the first episode of Grantchester in 2014, Skye Lucia Degruttola has played the role of Esme Keating, the daughter of characters Geordie (Robson Green) and Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth) across every series of the show aired on ITV, with the most recent being shown earlier this year. Other screen roles for Skye have included working on the Disney 2017 award-winning feature film Beauty and the Beast, short film Not Sophie’s Choice alongside Catherine Tate, and in 2018, she appeared alongside Luke Evans (Gaston in Beauty and the Beast) in the thriller 10×10. We found out from Skye about playing Esme Keating in Grantchester, her time on set of Beauty and the Beast and working on the short film Not Sophie’s Choice.
What do you remember from your first day on set as Esme Keating in Grantchester?
I don’t really remember that much because I was only seven or eight years old, but I do remember bringing my puppy into work. She was three weeks old and literally everyone was coming into my trailer… she made a great first impression!
I also loved all the costumes. I remember I used to beg for this one pair of shoes even though they were two sizes too small because I loved them so much.
How would you describe Esme?
I would describe Esme as quite shy in a way in the first couple of series, but she was not really afraid to speak her mind. In the later series she started to become a bit more sassy, wanting to live her own life and hang out with her friends.
Esme loves her parents, and especially loves her mum so much. I remember one scene where she’s having a fight with her dad for making her mum cry which just showed how much she loved her mum. I remember she was really proud of her mum getting a job. In that era, women weren’t really known for going out to work, they were much more stay at home, so I think it was really kind of Esme to be supportive of her mum.
You’ve been in the show since the start, how has it been developing your character over time?
Like I say, Esme used to be quite shy and kept herself to herself. In the first few series she was very innocent and would always help out with the family. Then she started going through adolescence and got her first boyfriend and didn’t want to be part of any of the family getaways. She just wanted to be her own person.
How is it being part of the cast and working with your on-screen family?
I got really lucky with my on-screen family. They are all so nice, especially Kacey Ainsworth and Robson Green. I love them so much, they are literally my second family, they’ve been so kind to me from the start. The girls who play my siblings are both so funny, I love them so much! The crew are so lovely, I get on with them all really well. I remember the makeup artist on Series 2 got me my first hair straighteners, which was a really big thing for me because I was about ten or eleven! I was so excited!
I remember on my birthday one year during filming, everyone went out of their way to get me a cake and sing to me which was so special. I was so happy when that happened.
What are some of your favourite memories so far from your time in the show?
One of my favourite memories was on the first series. It was the first time I’d properly met Robson, but I didn’t know that he’d known me since I was a baby because he had worked with my mum. I remember walking in and when he saw my mum as my chaperone, he was so confused! He knew that he knew her but couldn’t work it out, and the minute my mum said her name, he nearly fell over the props table! I think that was one of the funniest things ever. That’s definitely one of my favourite memories!
How do you spend your time in between filming scenes?
We usually play cards. UNO is one of the games we played a lot last series. I’d never played it before and I got really competitive! I play a lot with my on-screen siblings – Rubie-Rose (Fearfield), Rose (Allen) and the twins who play my younger brother. We also eat a lot of food. If I have lines then I’ll go over my lines and sometimes we have a read-through with the rest of the cast.
Do you watch the series on TV, if so, what’s it like watching yourself on screen?
I actually don’t watch the show! I’ve watched a couple of episodes but I don’t really like watching myself. The only other time really that I watch myself is when my Nonna (my Italian grandma) sends me videos of her watching me on screen.
Can you tell us about being on set of Beauty and the Beast?
I loved filming Beauty and the Beast, but again, I was about nine so I don’t really remember that much. I’m actually still friends with some of the girls I was filming with. I loved looking at all the sets and singing the songs. Emma Watson was so nice, I remember that she got into a full ten-minute conversation with me, which was so kind of her, even though she was needing to prepare for her scene!
You filmed as Summer in the thriller 10×10, what was this like to do?
I really enjoyed it. It was the first time in an action movie with a lot of blood and gore. I remember really having fun with it. Everyone was so nice and it was so empowering to work with the director, it was the first time I’d been directed by a woman, and I was really inspired by that. It was lovely working with Luke Evans again after I’d worked with him on Beauty and the Beast when he played Gaston, though I hadn’t really met him properly on that because it was so busy but he said he remembered me which was nice.
Can you tell us about your character Summer?
Summer was a very bright girl and very brave. If I, personally, was in a situation where a gun was being held to my head, I would just be in shock and I wouldn’t even think of fighting back! In the scene, she punches and bites Cathy (played by Kelly Reilly) and rips out some of her skin, if I remember rightly. That was really brave of her to do. She does cry a bit but I think we all would if that happened to us.
How was the experience playing Sophie in Not Sophie’s Choice and can you say more about the short film?
I loved playing Sophie. I was fangirling so hard over Catherine Tate and I remember going to school the next day and saying to everyone that I was best friends with her! I loved the experience. I was really close to Matt the director and we all had a good laugh. I loved it.
Where does your love of acting come from?
The money… I’m joking! I think because both of my parents are actors and directors, it’s always been in my blood. I was in one of my dad’s films when I was about five and I absolutely loved it. I think it’s just in my genes to be honest.
Do you have a favourite aspect of acting?
My favourite aspect of acting isn’t actually the acting part, it has to be meeting the directors and other actors and crew. I’ve always been very interested in cinematography and maybe becoming a director in the future. I remember I made a short film when I was seven with my cousin about time travelling, which I actually showed to a director I was working with at the time and he thought it was really funny… but it wasn’t a comedy!
Apart from acting, what do you enjoy doing?
I really enjoy photography, I’m studying it at school, and going to take it as a GCSE. I’m also really interested in art, even though I’m not very good at it, I still enjoy it.
I especially love animals! I have a dog and a rabbit and I would love to have lots more pets. In the summer I help walk dogs in the mornings for three hours and I volunteer at All Dogs Matter which I absolutely love because I just love dogs, I don’t know why but they just have a special place in my heart.