Romola Garai on BBC1's Boxing Day drama: ‘The Miniaturist plays with expectations’

The Miniaturist
(Image credit: The Forge/BBC/ Laurence Cendrowi)

Romola Garai reveals all about starring in haunting 17th century thriller The Miniaturist

Jessie Burton’s best-selling 2014 novel The Miniaturist, which explores intrigue in 17th century Amsterdam, is brought to life in a stunning two-part BBC1 adaptation. The drama stars Romola Garai as the icy sister-in-law of young Nella Oortman (Anya Taylor-Joy). Nella's new husband Johannes (Alex Hassell), Marin's brother, gives her a wedding present of a cabinet containing a replica of their home. But when the doll’s house begins to eerily echo the family’s lives, the dark secrets that Marin has battled to protect unravel.

Romola Garai tells TV Times more about her role in The Miniaturist, which will be on BBC1 on Boxing Day at 9.00pm…

TV Times: How would you describe Marin?

Romola Garai: “She’s the controller of the house’s secrets. Although she’s a force to be reckoned with, she’s afraid because she’s hiding something that means her eternal soul is damned... She seems malicious and cold but when you realise why, she becomes sympathetic. Marin and Nella are allied in protecting the household from outside forces.”

Miniaturist 2

(Image credit: The Forge/BBC/ Laurence Cendrowi)

TVT: Were you a fan of the book?

RG: “Yes, I loved it! It’s a page-turner and so much is brilliantly woven in. When you see the house and the dolls, you wonder if it’s a thriller or there’s magic going on. It plays with expectations and explodes preconceptions about that era. We see how 17th century Amsterdam was a fundamentalist police state governed by the church and how people were inhibited and unhappy.”

TVT: Did you get to keep the miniature version of your character from the doll’s house?

RG: “No, which is a mixed blessing because she is scary and the eyes follow you around the room! It’s like a little superhero doll though and the closest I'll get to having an action figure.”

TVT: Nella has a parakeet, Peebo, and Johannes has a dog, Rezeki, what was it like working with them?

RG: “Polly, who plays Peebo, was very professional; she sees this as her big break! But Mr Scraps, who plays Rezeki, is gorgeous but hopeless. He needed to attack someone’s leg and bark but he could only do it if he heard the sound of a flushing toilet. The trainer had to play that on her phone while we were doing very serious scenes!”

The Miniaturist airs on Boxing Day and Wednesday 27 December at 9pm

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.