Taboo star Jessie Buckley: Tom Hardy's created a new form of period drama that's 'really exciting and dangerous'

(Image credit: FX Networks / Robert Viglasky)

BBC1's dark historical drama Taboo continues with War & Peace star Jessie Buckley joining as actress Lorna Delaney, who causes a big family headache for Tom Hardy's James Delaney...

Jessie Buckley is known for both her singing and acting, having come second in BBC1's talent show I'd Do Anything and then played Marya in BBC1's epic War and Peace last year. Now the Irish actress is back on primetime BBC1 again, joining Taboo this week as a mysterious actress.

We caught up with Jessie who told us that to be cast alongside a Hollywood superstar like Tom Hardy was an absolute dream...

What was it like working with Tom, who plays James Delaney? Are you fan of his work? “Yeah, a huge fan! I really respect who he is and kind of what he stands for. I really loved working with him, I found him an incredibly inspiring and generous and collaborative person to work with.”

Was it quite daunting going into this with Tom, as he’s such a big star now? “Yeah of course, with any project you take on is daunting, but you have to get over that fairly lively and make your work as good as it can be. I just found it really exciting to work with somebody who challenged me. What’s so brilliant about Taboo and what Tom has created isn’t the generic period piece, he’s created a new form of period drama which is really exciting and dangerous. I take my hat off to him and long may he last."

It’s a fantastic cast in general – had you worked with any of them before? “I hadn’t, but it suddenly dawned on me I was alongside someone like Jason Watkins who is amazing. Oh my word. The Christopher Jefferies' ITV drama he did - I was so star-struck! Taboo has actors like Jonathan Pryce, too. It was so exciting getting the chance to work with top people like that.”

Your character Lorna claims to be the widow of James Delaney’s late dad Horace...what can you tell us about her and what you liked? “She’s an actress of the 19th century and the whole piece is really about the underdogs in society who smell opportunity and rebel against the establishment. As a woman in that world she has a real heart. What I fell in love with was her intelligence. She’s a real sharp woman and a wit, a bit like a Lauren Bacall character. She knows who she is, and she has an ambition for an adventurous life and to puncture any of the boundaries. She gives as good as she gets, which really excited me!”

Taboo looks so wonderful – the sets and costumes are amazing. The language is quite harsh though isn’t it? “Yes and that’s what’s really interesting about 1815 London is that language is their economy and everybody has a chance to succeed. There’s a real energy behind that and the way that it’s shot is really kind of voluptuous and there’s a kind of starkness to that. There’s a mystery as well. There’s a lot to play when you have a world like that.”


Your background is in music and singing and you were runner up in I’d Do Anything on BBC1 – was that fun? “Yeah it was, I was 17 at the time and hadn’t a bloody clue what I was doing. I still haven’t got a bloody clue to be honest, but it seems to have worked out for me!”

BBC1’s War & Peace was a great success last year – did you enjoy making it? “I loved it and I particularly loved my character Marya with all my heart. She was such a special person, I fell in love with her from the moment I read it and it was like a real family with the whole cast when we were in St Petersburg, Lithuania and Riga."

Are you still singing? "Oh yeah, I love singing it’s still a part of me. I do some jazz gigs and I’d like to do more of that maybe next year, but if the door comes knocking and it’s interesting, why not? I don’t want to say no to anything."

Jessie joins BBC1’s Taboo's second episode on Saturday January 14 at 9.15 pm


Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.