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In ELLE UK’s annual feminism issue, actress Carey Mulligan opens up exclusively about her career-defining role in Suffragette and reflects on the need for more women’s voices to be heard, both in Hollywood and beyond.

Mulligan discusses the pay gap, the respect women receive in the film industry, and explains why she would never take on a role any less strong or well-rounded than a leading man’s. ‘You don’t say to men: “You played another really strong man.”,’ she adds. ‘The idea that women are inherently weak – and we’ve identified the few strong ones to tell stories about – is mad.’

In Suffragette, out this month, Mulligan plays Maud – a laundry worker turned foot soldier for feminist leader Emmeline Pankhurst, played by Meryl Streep. When asked if she would be a suffragette, she admits, ‘You’d like to think that you would [but] you’re a product of your time. I can express my opinion, but I’ve never had to fight, to stand up for anything. And the notion of walking into a gallery with a knife and destroying a piece of art, that seems unbelievably terrifying to me. And that’s just one, tame example of what they did.’

The notoriously private star also gives us a rare glimpse of her home life with husband Marcus Mumford. She speaks about her experience with motherhood, saying, ‘I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I love what I do, but I’m excited for this next phase of my life.’

The interview spearheads ELLE’s #MoreWomen campaign, which focuses on the power of the collective female voice and celebrates the women in our life who make us stronger. In a global campaign, ELLE has asked celebrities, influencers and you our readers to upload a photograph of themselves with the most influential women in their life on 1 October with the campaign slogan #MoreWomen.

Mulligan adds, ‘Someone asked me yesterday, “Do you think it would be a better world if it were run by women?” And the answer is no, I think it would be a better world if it were run equally – we’re still so far from that.’

Thanks to Luciana at Jessica Chastain Network, we now have scans of Carey Mulligan from the latest issue (November) of Total Film UK, looking at the upcoming “Suffragette”.

Carey Mulligan is the sort of actress who — mercifully — complicates “cute.” Her eyes are somehow as dewy as they are world-weary; her mouth has a tendency to go rogue mid-grin and transform into a vaguely impish smirk. Even with a perfect pixie cut (and a vocal cameo on a Belle & Sebastian album, to boot), Mulligan projects something tougher than twee. The characters she’s known for (Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, most notably) convey a complicated, expertly modulated blend of innocence and experience, joie de vivre and ennui. “I feel old,” sighs 16-year-old Jenny in “An Education”, the 2009 role for which Mulligan earned an Oscar nomination. “But not very wise.”

Over the past decade, though — ever since she made her screen debut playing Keira Knightley’s sister in the 2005 adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” — the Westminster, England–born Mulligan has orchestrated her career with a shrewd kind of wisdom, wriggling out of pigeonholes at every turn. “I worry about repeating myself,” she told Vogue in 2010. “I’m afraid of anything remotely period, afraid of anything to do with the ’60s or playing a schoolgirl.” Suffice it to say, the girl’s got range. Onstage, she’s dazzled, playing Nina in an acclaimed 2008 run of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” and, more recently, acting opposite Bill Nighy in this year’s staging of “Skylight”. Onscreen, she eschewed the requisite post–“It” girl superhero’s-girlfriend roles and instead sought out nervier fare. She lent a touch of humanity to Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylish neo-noir “Drive” and a bit of welcome anarchy to Steve McQueen’s placid “Shame”. By the time of 2013’s Coen-brothers folkie homage “Inside Llewyn Davis” — not the first movie in which she’d sung, but the first one where she proved her voice could hold while harmonizing with Justin Timberlake — she could put those fears about repeating herself to rest.

Up next: Mulligan’s Norma Rae moment. In October, she stars in “Suffragette”, the female-written-and-directed (by Abi Morgan and Sarah Gavron, respectively) period piece. She plays Maud Watts, a factory worker radicalized by the early pioneers of the women’s-suffrage movement. (This fall, she’s also expecting her first child with musician-husband Marcus Mumford.) The cast is stellar (Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter), and Mulligan is already generating awards-season buzz. The uncompromisingly political role is unlike any she’s ever tackled, but expect a classic Mulligan performance — as fresh as it is fiery.


Graham Norton is set to welcome “Suffragette cast” members Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan to his sofa on October 9 at 10.35 pm.

Nicole Kidman will join the trio to discuss her West End run in Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51.

Kidman last sat down with Norton last November, while Streep and Mulligan visited earlier this year.


A new clip from “Suffragette” has been released online, seeing Carey Mulligan’s Maude in a confrontation with Brendan Gleeson’s anti-terrorism policeman Steed after the former arrests the latter. “Suffragette” arrives in UK cinemas on October 12.

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