The 26-year-old admitted that she’s “protective” of the Wuthering Heights author as she explored the late novelist’s quirks for the period epic opposite Adrian Dunbar, Gemma Jones and Fionn Whitehead.
Speaking of the role to this month’s Harper’s Baazar UK, Mackey said: “Emily Brontë is such a strange, strange person. But I’m protective of her – she is a gift of a woman to play.”
The Barbie actor added that understanding Brontë’s nuances were pivotal to her performance as she tried to not push the poet, who died aged 30, as some “kooky rebel” but as someone who “exists in her own right”.
She added: “I don’t want her to be seen as the kooky rebel, who goes off on this adventure of self-discovery to smoke pot, have sex and find herself. I don’t think she would have thought, ‘Oh, I’m being so feminist right now,’ It’s more complicated and also more pure than that. She exists in her own right.
“Emily is sometimes very still, but often wrestling with the elements, with the landscape, and she feels and responds to things viscerally. I don’t think you have to intellectualise her feelings or reactions – she is always instinctive.”
The Frances O’Connell written and directed film follows Brontë in the leadup to her literary masterpiece, Wuthering Heights.
Early signs are good for O’Connell’s directorial debut, having earned rave reviews from its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last month.
So far it’s received an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, with some critics describing the feature as a “accomplished” and “riveting”.
“A ravishing period drama that plays fast and loose with the facts in order to paint a portrait of the author that bleeds with the same heart-in-its-hands emotionality she had to suffuse into her work,” wrote Indiewire’s David Ehrlich.
While the Hollywood Reporter’s Lovia Gyarkye praised Mackey’s performance, “Mackey commands the screen, confidently shepherding us through Emily’s mercurial moods. Her eyes — darting nervously at one moment, squinting suspiciously at another — tells us what dialogue can’t.”
Emily will hit cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Friday, October 14th