INTERVIEW: Jasmin Savoy Brown of “Will”

Jasmin Savoy Brown has been making splashes on TV lately. She got her big break on HBO’s The Leftovers and has also appeared on Freeform’s Stitchers. She makes her first appearance on TNT’s Will in the season’s sixth episode, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as Emilia Bassano, the poet and “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

We got the chance to ask Jasmin some questions about Will and what’s it’s like to play a historical figure.

Photo credit Matt Darlington

I’d love to hear a little about the character of Emilia Bassano. What role does she play in Will’s life?

Emilia and Will meet and immediately have a strong connection. It grows consistently stronger over the shared love and respect of art. She quickly becomes one of his respected confidants and closest friends.

What first caught your attention about the show, and the role?

I love to travel and I knew the show was shooting overseas. I am also a fan of Shakespeare, and I had yet to do a period piece and wanted to stretch myself that way. More than anything though, was Emilia. I had never played a real person before and as I read up on her, it became more and more apparent how phenomenal of a person she was. I wanted to be part of telling that story, telling her story.

What sort of research into the historical characters and the time period did you do? Will is pretty fictionalized, so how are the history and the fiction woven together?

I watched a number of documentaries, read a few books, and went to museums around London to understand what life felt like and how the artists of the time expressed themselves. I also had a few coaches who taught me a lot about life then and how to integrate mannerisms and patterns of speech into my portrayal of Emilia. The history and fiction are woven together through the backdrop of contemporary music and through the human experience. There is no denying that Shakespeare’s works are forever relatable because they are innately human. If a few minor details are changed, that doesn’t change who he was and what he accomplished. That still shines brightly through.

Had you heard of Emilia before getting the role? Were you a fan of Shakespeare?

I had heard of “The Dark Lady” and I’d heard of a woman who either inspired or penned a number of Shakespeare’s greatest works. But I did not realize that was the same person and I never had a name for her. I was a fan of Shakespeare! I studied him quite a bit in high school and for a while right after graduation.

Photo credit Matt Darlington

How is the process of playing a historical figure (even a semi-fictionalized one) different from playing a totally new character?

First, my preparation varied drastically as a lot of research was involved. When I’m playing someone brand new, I may research where they live or hobbies and things they are involved in. But I am not researching them and putting pieces together about who they were/are – I’m deciding those things in collaboration with my coach or director. For Emilia, I did a lot of reading and mystery solving about the life she lived, which was fun but also made me feel immense pressure to get it right! I want to do her justice!

What was your favorite part of shooting Will in Wales?

My favorite part of shooting on location is always the opportunity to travel and explore. Wales is very close to London, so I spent several weekends there. And a plane ride from Cardiff to Paris is quick, so I went to Paris for a weekend as well. I also explored castles and locations around Wales and was never disappointed. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do.

Can I get any hints about what’s coming up in Will?

Nope! My lips are sealed.


You can tune in to Will Monday nights at 11 eastern on TNT.