Gabriella is featured in the new issue of The Times magazine. She talks about Poldark, her family, modeling and acting in her interview, that you’ll find below. Make sure to check the new photoshoot in our gallery. Big thanks to my friend Helen at Kit Harington Online for the help!
Studio Photoshoots > 2016 > Session 001
THE TIMES – It is not especially hard to understand why, when embarking on a career as an actress, Gabriella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe changed her name to something a little more snappy. Not only is Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe a bit of a mouthful, but to the readers of gossip columns and glossy magazines, it comes loaded with associations: the aristocratic English rose from the glamorous, bohemian society family. The sister, Isabella, who allegedly broke Prince William’s heart. The stepsister, Cressida Bonas, who did the same to poor Prince Harry. The polo-playing DJ brother called Jacobi. It comes with a lot of baggage, the Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe name. Gabriella Wilde, on the other hand, does not.
“The most obvious name to choose was my mother’s maiden name, but that was Hubbard,” she explains. “Not very glamorous.”
In the end her agent saw a book by Oscar Wilde on her bookcase and Gabriella Wilde was born. Having cut her teeth in Endless Love, St Trinian’s and The Three Musketeers, she’s been dominating the nation’s Sundays as Caroline Penvenen, a minxy heiress in Poldark. Did she fall in love with a topless Aidan Turner in the first series, like the rest of us?
“I was probably the only person in the country who didn’t watch it,” she confesses. “I’d just had a baby so I was in a tired hole with my son.”
The day after she got the part of Caroline, she found out she was pregnant with her second son. “I couldn’t celebrate because I was panicking that I was pregnant and freaking out about how I was going to make it work.”
The answer was by the use of clever costumes, plenty of strategically positioned furniture and a co-star who, towards the end of the seven-month shoot in Cornwall, wasn’t fazed by doing love scenes with a woman who was eight months pregnant. With that baby, Shiloh, now five months old, Wilde has now headed back with him back to Cornwall, to start work on the third series.
“I was sheepishly reading the scripts on the train today,” she says. “If people recognise me I’ll be mortified and incredibly awkward. Weirdly, it happened to me at a supermarket in Italy. The girls at the checkout saw Endless Love and were trying to decide if it was me or not. My husband speaks Italian so he knew what they were saying. They decided it wasn’t me. Totally bizarre. I went bright red.”
Wilde, 27, was brought up in the Hampshire countryside, part of a tangled extended family: sister Octavia, half-sisters Olivia and Arabella on her mother’s side and three other half-siblings – Georgiana, Isabella and Jacobi – thanks to her father’s marriage to Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, Cressida Bonas’s mother. With all of them varying degrees of blonde and gorgeous, and adding in a family seat, Elvetham Hall, for good measure, it’s not hard to see why in 2007 she ended up being runner-up for the title of Tatler’s most eligible girl of the year. Did she grow up in the stately home, then?
“No, no,” she mumbles, embarrassed. “I think it’s a house my dad moved into in his late twenties. It’s sort of like a farm. Lovely place to grow up for kids.”
With such an extended family of arty siblings who all get on famously, it sounds like the sort of bohemian upper-class life where everyone plays charades at Christmas.
“There was probably a bit of that,” she concedes. “I’ve got sisters who act [Cressida and Isabella]. I think my parents were probably surprised when I said I was going to be an actress because I wasn’t in school plays or anything like that.”
She went to boarding school, which she hated, including one, Heathfield, from which she was suspended for smuggling in vodka.
“I went to quite a lot of schools,” she says sheepishly. “I was at Heathfield for three years. It’s a fun school but basically it’s a lot of girls who get bored and get up to no good. My children will have a different childhood; I don’t think they’ll go to boarding school. I think it’s a bizarre thing to do. I didn’t enjoy it and my husband hated it. It’s a strange way to grow up.”
Wilde started modelling at 14, when Isabella Blow, the late, legendary stylist and a friend of a friend, discovered her. In the early years, her mother chaperoned her.
“When it started to pick up more, and I started missing school for it, I found it all quite terrifying. I was very shy, probably too shy to say, actually, I don’t want to do this, so I continued until I was 18.”
At 18 she swore off modelling (although she’s recently agreed to be an ambassador for Mappin & Webb). Instead, she embarked on a fine art degree with a view to becoming a painter. But then, aged 20, she started getting calls asking her to audition for acting roles, and thought, why not? The work kept rolling in, albeit often of the female love interest variety, “where you’re running after a man and there’s not much else to do. But any acting job I get, I can’t believe I got it. I’m not sitting by the phone because I’m not expecting it to ring.”
She intended to study acting at college, but never got round to it. Instead, she says, “I have a generous and kind sister who has trained, and also teaches, and she’s been my mentor. She’s not afraid to tell me when I’m crap.”
Before she got married to musician Alan Pownall, in 2014, her career was pulling her towards living in LA, but she didn’t want to live in a place that revolved around her job.
“I need to have all my friends round me, who have nothing to do with that. I was single, young, on my own as a young actress. Lonely? Yeah. Definitely.”
Her first son, Sasha, now two and a half, will stay at home with his father while Wilde commutes to the Poldark set an hour away. The rest of the cast live in Bristol and hang out together after work. Wilde, who frequently had to run off set to be sick last time around, is now a breastfeeding mother of two, so she’s equally unlikely to be joining them. She’ll probably have more children, she says, but maybe not just yet. “I come from a huge family,” she shrugs. “Two doesn’t feel like quite enough.”