Watch: Carey Mulligan talks to Yahoo about The Dig
Released this week on Netflix, the film tells the true story of the excavation at Sutton Hoo in 1939, which revealed a wealth of historical treasures. Location filming in Suffolk during the autumn meant the cast and crew were faced with wind, rain, mud and bitterly cold temperatures. But the Oscar-nominated Mulligan found ways to stay warm.
Playing Sutton Hoo owner, Edith Pretty, meant that she didn’t get her hands as dirty as some of the other members of the cast. “There are photos from the actual dig in real life and they show Edith sat in a wicker chair, she’s impeccably dressed with an umbrella,” she told Yahoo Movies UK.
“She was the lady, so she was never going to get down on her knees in the dirt, so in that sense I was pretty much protected from it.”
Her 1930s clothes helped keep out the chill. “I really benefited from having costumes that covered me up a bit, because it was freezing cold. The rest of the actors were shivering and everybody had heat pads stuck to different parts of their bodies to stay warm. Better not ask where, though!”
There was one moment, however, when Mulligan had to get her hands dirty. In a dramatic scene, a landslide nearly buries amateur archaeologist Basil Brown (co-star Ralph Fiennes) and she helps dig him out with her bare hands.
Watch a clip from The Dig
During the course of the film, the two become friends through a shared love of history and the land. They find themselves involved in a race against time to uncover the secrets of Sutton Hoo and protect the site before war breaks out.
While the real Edith Pretty was passionate about history, Mulligan had different reasons for studying the subject in her school days. “I only liked history because we got to watch movies sometimes, so I did ‘A’ level history pretty much for that reason!” she recalled. “It didn’t do me any harm, though.”
Her next film, the highly-anticipated A Promising Young Woman, is due for release later in the year and also marks her debut as a producer. Her performance has already won critical acclaim, making her a hotly-tipped contender for the awards season. Co-star Ralph Fiennes has two films aiming for release this year, returning as M in the much-delayed No Time To Die and starring in Matthew Vaughn’s action comedy prequel, The King’s Man.
The Dig also stars Lily James, Ben Chaplin, Johnny Flynn, Monica Dolan and Ken Stott and is directed by Simon Stone.
The Dig launches globally on Netflix on 29 January.
Watch a trailer for Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan