Wonderland.

OLIVE GRAY

The actress talks finding independence and creativity outside her comfort zone.

Olive Gray Black and white shot in denim outfit

All clothing TALENT’S OWN

Olive Gray Black and white shot in denim outfit
All clothing TALENT’S OWN

“Lennie writes characters who are amazingly complex. He creates a space of empathy even for the people who do awful things.” I’m on the phone with Olive Gray, actress, musician, poet; London-bred creative. We’re discussing her latest project, the much-anticipated return of Lennie James’ tour de force, Save Me Too. Gray plays a victim of sexual trafficking rescued by Nelly Rowe (Lennie James) on a quest to find his missing daughter. “Grace is the most difficult, meaty and complex character I’ve ever been given the opportunity to play. Initially, it was incredibly terrifying because it felt like such a massive responsibility,” she admits — but it’s a responsibility she carries beautifully.

Save Me Toos Grace is a far cry from Gray’s role in Halo, the upcoming game-based show she was midway through filming before lockdown. “There was something incredibly intimate about Save Me. By the very nature of its set, Halo is not intimate. Finding small moments within a world so vast is something I’ve never had to do before.” With explosives and VFX on a scale that even Iron Man would be stunned by, we can take her word for it that this next project is going to be “insane, really insane.”

Olive Gray Black and white shot in denim outfit

All clothing TALENT’S OWN

Olive Gray Black and white shot in denim outfit
All clothing TALENT’S OWN

Ironically, this isn’t the first time the actor has come into contact with the hit Xbox franchise. “I was in a relationship with somebody when I was 18- 20 who was a gamer. Once it was our anniversary and he couldn’t celebrate with me because the new Halo game had come out…” She tells me, laughing at how her life has come full circle. This candidness and generosity of spirit feel very much constituent parts of Gray’s character. She talks to me as if I’m her closest confidant, and it’s not long before she opens up about another heartbreak — one that led her falling head over heels again, but this time with poetry.

“I really discovered writing when I went travelling,” she laughs. “Oh gosh.” She knows what you’re all thinking, but this isn’t your classic ‘gap yah’ tale. “I was in a long relationship with someone who I thought I was going to marry. One day I decided it wasn’t what I wanted; I ended the relationship and booked a oneway flight to Rome. I hopped from city to city over Europe for two months. It was there where I chose not to interact with anyone apart from to ask for directions or food. And it was the most at peace I’ve ever been in my life. I loved being by myself.” Very Eat Pray Love, but with less Javier Bardem and more John Keats. “In that space, I was writing like 10 poems a day. I couldn’t walk four steps without having to stop and write something,” she says fondly. “I had created a kind of vessel for myself to express my creativity fully without relying on anyone or anything. It felt like the most amazing feeling ever. I never want to lose that.”

Gray might be making a name for herself as an actor, but you’d be foolish to pigeonhole her as such. As she maps out her dreams for the future, she even talks of compiling her own book of poetry. “I feel like a creative machine or something…” And she’s just moved into fifth gear.

All episodes of Save Me and Save Me Too are currently available to watch on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV.

Photography
Bartek Szmigulski
Words
Anya Cooper
OLIVE GRAY

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