Good golly, Miss Molly - Bernadette Anvia interviews Louise Brealey from BBC’s Sherlock

Louise Brealey is no stranger to interviews. As a former journalist and editor, she has interviewed the likes of Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Helena Bonham Carter. But since her rise to fame as the endearing and lovelorn Molly Hooper in BBC’s Sherlock, Brealey now finds herself on the other side of the microphone. “I’m not a brilliant interviewee,” confesses Brealey. ““But sometimes you know what to say; you know [to] give people what you know they need because you’ve been on the other side.”[…] Molly Hooper began series one as a minor character purely of Moffat and Gatiss’ imagination. But, by series three, Brealey’s character had come to assume a role much larger than would ever be anticipated, with her timidity and relationship frustrations adding an emotional element to the series that speaks to audiences on many levels. “It’s very gratifying,” says Brealey. “I’m very proud that they liked the character enough that they developed her and gave her more screen time.” “I get a lot of feedback from women. I don’t know about ‘relate’, I always find that ‘relatability’ is overrated – you have to relate to all characters in some sense. But I think what [Molly] does do is that they feel a connection with her and she speaks to them in some way. They recognize her.” […] Brealey’s following is huge, and, with over 170, 000 followers on twitter and various social media fan pages, her fans certainly hang on to her every word (or tweet) – a responsibility which Brealey, as a self-proclaimed feminist, does not take lightly. “I have really enjoyed being a part of something that speaks to so many people and I’m into talking with some women and girls about things that impact them,” says Brealey. “That was something that I could never have predicted. The notion of being any sort of role model is laughable, so that whole side of things has been amazingly enriching. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and also about feminism through having those sort of dialogues all the time.” A passionate advocate of women’s rights, Brealey is unrepentantly and unapologetically honest about what needs to be done to combat the numerous issues women experience, including pressures surrounding what Brealey calls ‘body terror’ and ‘body fascism.’ “We live in a culture which values the way we look above all else,” says Brealey. “I think it’s getting worse rather than getting better [and] I think the media has a huge role in reinforcing this.” “Because I have a voice – by accident, because I happen to play a small part in a show that’s caught people’s imagination – because I have that voice, I take it very seriously,” says Brealey. “There is a degree of power in having a huge following in the way that this show has and that feels like a responsibility to me. So, it’s my responsibility to sort of to try and, as far as I can, lead by example.” Admired and respected as she is, Brealey admits to numerous doubts about her appearance, saying she is prone to comparing herself with others. In 2012, Brealey wrote a piece on her struggle to deal with her nude scene for the stage production of The Trojan Women, for which she was playing Helen of Troy. In the piece, Brealey wrote: “I don’t want the young women who look up to me because I’m a feminist and I’m in a TV show they love to feel like they somehow fall short. So I should have stood on stage as Helen of Troy, flaws and all, and thumbed my nose at body terror and body fascism. But I couldn’t; I just wasn’t brave enough.” Brealey says the piece is one of her proudest achievements. “The responses I got to that piece – it is the thing I’m most proud of,” says Brealey. “I had these responses and I just sat and read them and bawled, crying my eyes out because people felt understood. They felt that I understood what it’s like to not love your body sometimes.” “Acting is not a beauty contest, but it can sometimes feel like that. You can’t help but compare yourself, and that’s why it’s important to talk about it.” Whilst Molly Hooper may have been the impetus for a sizeable fan base and following, it is Louise Brealey, and Brealey alone, who has amassed fans based on her honesty and her sympathy – her understanding of the shared struggle of women and her desire to make change. Molly Hooper may not have the love of Sherlock Holmes, but Brealey has rightfully gained the love and respect of thousands of international fans. [Full interview can be found here]