When Antonia Thomas and I sit down for our Zoom chat a few days ahead of Red, White & Blue’s BBC premiere, the actor is looking out over a very grey morning in Vancouver – a “souped-up London,” as she calls it. Thomas is just about to begin a day of shooting for The Good Doctor, a medical drama where she stars opposite a fellow Brit, Freddie Highmore.
The Good Doctor may not have name recognition in the UK quite yet, but over in the U.S., it’s recently taken over Grey's Anatomy to become ABC's most watched drama. “A lot of people here just know me for playing this American character,” Thomas tells me. “It's new and cool because I’ve always wanted to work in America, but also I still feel very British.”
I tell her the feeling is mutual, admitting I’ll always think of her as Alisha in Misfits, one of the most iconic British shows of the 2010s. Does she get that a lot, I ask? “Yeah, Misfits is still the one I get recognised for,” she says. “But I kind of love it in a way, because even though it was sort of my first job, it's still one of the ones that I'm proudest about. It was just a great thing to be a part of.”
And then there’s Lovesick, a show where Thomas’ character Evie is caught up in a three-season-long will-they-won’t-they relationship with Dylan, played by folk singer and Emma star Johnny Flynn. Lovesick became rapidly popular when it made the transfer from Channel 4 to Netflix, and fans are dying for a reunion. “Aren't we all? I would love to do Lovesick season four,” Thomas tells me, describing Flynn as a “diamond.”
Thomas’ latest project is one of her biggest yet, starring in Red, White, and Blue, the third instalment in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. “It was a really special experience,” she says, telling me that McQueen was top of her ‘Directors I’m Desperate To Work With’ list.
Thomas plays Gretl in Red, White and Blue, the wife of Leroy Logan, a real-life figure whose story the film portrays. The chemistry between Thomas and her on-screen husband John Boyega is easy and endearing, with moments of tenderness between them working beautifully to contrast the hardship Leroy faces elsewhere. Thomas describes Boyega as a “generous” screen partner. “He just made me feel incredibly comfortable. It was very easy working with him. He's lovely.”
Red, White and Blue is based true events in Leroy’s life, including the brutal attack his father Kenneth faced from police officers which made him question his decision to sign up to the force and the continual overt racism he (and his community) faced from colleagues within the Met.
“Red, White And Blue is quite particularly about police brutality and institutionalised racism,” says Thomas, “and all of the things that we know to have been true then, and to be true now. I think it's really important. It allows us to look at where we were and how far we have come in a lot of ways but also think about how far we have to go. It shows us we have to keep pushing, to keep learning, and to keep our minds open.”
Get to know more about Antonia in her Bustle Booth questionnaire below.
In The Bustle Booth
What's your coffee order?
Flat white with oat milk
What are the saved weather locations on your phone?
Vancouver, London, & L.A.
What’s your sign?
Favourite overused movie quote?
"Here’s looking at you, kid"
What was your favourite cartoon as a kid?
What’s one movie or TV show you're currently obsessed with?
Who is your celebrity idol?
If you had to go on a reality TV show, what would it be?
Go-to karaoke song?
"Never Ever" by All Saints
What’s something that's inspiring you lately?
What is something you would want people to say about you?
"She is kind"
Red, White & Blue, part of Small Axe, is coming to BBC One and iPlayer on Sunday Nov. 29.