Exclusive: A Small Light's Bel Powley on bringing Miep to life
Bel Powley has shared her experience of bringing Miep Gies to life in the new Anne Frank story A Small Light.
The series, which is now available on Disney+, follows the story of Miep, a woman who helped hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis in World War II.
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy about the progressive nature of her character, Powley said: "Obviously I think she's a completely epic human and such an inspiration. But it's that contemporariness of her – that's what we really wanted to tap into, to make this show feel fresh and relatable, and a kind of new take on a story that we know so well. I think a way into the history is kind of having this lead character be someone that people can relate to, just on the minutiae; the kind of everyday of her life.
Related: A Small Light's Liev Schreiber breaks down his unrecognisable transformation into Otto Frank
"Being a young, newly married couple, and having arguments with your husband, and then going out and partying with your friends, but still having said yes, and, you know, doing this really intense thing. That was a very clever way into this story."
Echoing his co-star's sentiment, Liev Schreiber, who plays Anne's father Otto Frank said: "To get people to understand how life was interrupted. Do you know what I mean? That's the thing I think people have a hard time relating to.
"The part that you do understand is the simple human aspects of their lives," said Schrieber. "That kind of stuff, people can relate to, and I think that served the performance.
"Here's a woman who's coming into herself, and has just fallen in love, and met this person. That's sort of the main story, and it helps you… I really appreciated that all the war and everything else and the Jews and the Franks and the Nazis were all peripheral. It kind of helped."
Related: A Small Light's Miep and Jan Gies – What happened to the real-life couple?
Powley also opened up on the responsibility she felt to do justice to the real people behind the characters.
"Obviously you feel a certain amount of responsibility when you're playing a real person. Also, I think this is such a heavy part of a history that means a lot to so many people. I felt the weight of that a bit as well. But on the flipside, I think that Miep really is a kind of everywoman, and is very relatable to a lot of young women. So that kind of made it a bit easier – the fact that she never really wanted to be put on a pedestal. She never wanted to be called a hero.
"She kind of wanted us all to see a bit of ourselves in her. So it was getting that balance of bringing a bit of myself to the role, but also respectfully honouring her and the facts, and the weight of that part of history as well."
A Small Light is out on Disney+.
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