Fresh from the success of “Bodyguard,” Keeley Hawes has told Variety that her next move is into producing. The star has set up her own shingle, Buddy Club Productions, and will start work on its first project as soon as she has wrapped on Netflix film “Rebecca,” in which she will play Beatrice Lacy, sister of Maxim (Armie Hammer).
“Producing and making things happen myself just feels like a natural progression for me,” she said. “I’m enjoying it. It’s at an early stage, but I have a couple of things in the pipeline.
“It’s looking at it from a different angle and coming at it with 30 years of experience. The older you get, the younger everyone else is, and then you realize you are the one with the most experience. That can be really useful on both sides of the camera.”
Details of the first Buddy Club project will be revealed soon. The newly minted production business will partner with other producers to start with. Hawes has cut her teeth by executive producing the fourth and final season of “The Durrells,” which is made by “Killing Eve” producer Sid Gentle for ITV.
The star says the sands have shifted in TV. “I’ve been in the business since I was 9 and have worked fairly consistently, and it’s just so exciting with Netflix and Amazon, and the whole landscape of TV and film has changed,” she said. “There’s money in TV that wasn’t there before. There’re writers who wouldn’t have worked in TV before. The gloves are off.”
Jed Mercurio’s “Bodyguard,” which starred Hawes as an ambitious politician, was a smash hit for the BBC in the U.K. before going global on Netflix. “The way we watch TV, the way people binge watch, the content just needs to keep on coming,” Hawes said. “It’s a very exciting time.” While in Corfu shooting “The Durrells,” she would fly back to the U.K. on weekends and discovered just what a hit “Bodyguard” was “when people started camping outside my door,” she said.
Having worked with Mercurio before on “Line of Duty,” which earned her a BAFTA nomination, Hawes said that working with him again would be a no-brainer. In both “Bodyguard” and “Line of Duty,” Mercurio packs in twists and turns and often deadly outcomes for his stars, as Hawes discovered.
“He’s one of our bravest writers,” she said. “There are very few people who would be prepared to take that risk and stick to their guns, and then cast somebody recognizable. That’s what makes it work. People don’t imagine I’ll only be in some episodes and not be back.”
As she moves into production as well as acting, Hawes flags the importance of efforts to improve representation. “Diversity and gender are so high on everyone’s agenda, which is just brilliant. In terms of the projects I’m working on, they are conversations that are constantly had. When crewing up and casting it’s a constant discussion.”
That wasn’t always the case: “It wasn’t a conversation at all [in the past]; it didn’t occur to people. Now it’s about training people up and getting people into the industry who might not otherwise have a chance.”
With Stephen Poliakoff’s “Summer of Rockets,” Ruth Wilson’s “Mrs. Wilson,” and Channel 4 series “Traitors” and “Year of the Rabbit” also showing now or recently, Hawes has been on screen more than off, of late. “Everything I did last year and the year before all came to the fore at the same time,” she said.
There’s more to come, with the Buddy Club projects and Philippa Lowthorpe’s comedy drama movie “Misbehavior,” with Keira Knightley and Greg Kinnear, which comes out later this year.