Getting up at 2am to attend the BAFTAs in London isn’t something most 20-year-olds from the northern town of Derby have experienced—especially not when you’re going to pick up an award yourself. In fact, Molly Windsor might be the only one. “I was shooting in Cornwall at the time and had to get up really early to fly out to the ceremony,” she said, before adding: “Then I had to be up early the next morning to go back to Cornwall and be thrown in the sea!” she laughs. Windsor, now 23, won her BAFTA in 2018 for her role in the BBC miniseries Three Girls, a show in which she played a teenage victim of sexual abuse in Rochdale. In Cornwall, she was shooting the film Make Up —out now in cinemas and on demand—a psychosexual coming of age story set on a caravan park. To say Windsor has range, in both her characters and projects, is an understatement.
In Make Up Windsor plays Ruth, an 18-year-old girl visiting her boyfriend Tom (played by Joseph Quinn) on the caravan park of which he works. She quickly becomes suspicious of his faithfulness to her, however, after discovering a long red hair on his clothes, a suspicion heightened when she befriends makeup artist Jade (Stefanie Martini), who keeps a collection of wigs made from real human hair in her caravan. The film takes place entirely on the park, and the cast and crew were based there for the complete shoot. “We all lived on the park for the shoot, which was five weeks,” Windsor tells me.
“You really become immersed in the place when you’re spending the whole time there, whereas on some jobs you’re just going to the location for a few days and then coming back home, so you don’t make that kind of connection.” Make Up’s first-time director Claire Oakley did, of course, allow her a few days to go to the BAFTAs. “It was a really nice experience to share with everyone, to get that news while filming.” They weren’t the only ones on the park at the time though, “It was open, and there were people staying there! We shot out of season though, so by the second week most people had gone.” The park setting is a unique, effective location, utilised well by Oakley. Make Up might primarily be a coming of age drama, but there’s significant elements of psychological thriller and Italian Giallo in the mix too.
Windsor hails from Derby and, in fact, still lives there. Acting isn’t something she’d always seen herself making a career of: “I actually failed my drama GCSE,” she says. Thankfully she’d already begun to find her feet in the industry by then. “When I was 11 I was attending a local drama class in Nottingham and met casting director Shaheen Baig who got me my first job,” she explained. That first job was in veteran actor Samantha Morton’s directorial debut The Unloved. “I was actually cast in Make Up through Shaheen as well.”
The film is being released during a difficult time for the arts due to the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. The late July release date had been on the cards since the start and distributor Curzon—the arthouse heavyweight behind such recent hits as Parasite and Portrait Of A Lady On Fire—were determined to stick with it. It’s also available on their streaming service, Curzon Home Cinema, so anyone can watch (at a cinema price) from the safety of their living room. “Claire did make the film for the cinema, and there are a number of elements that really work well in that environment, although we’re all just happy the film is out there and has a life!” Windsor explains. “We took it to the London Film Festival last year, which was a great experience to have with it. It was the first time I’d been!”—surely the first of many to come.
Windsor’s other recent roles include Alibi’s crime drama Traces, alongside Line Of Duty star Martin Compston, and the ITV mystery Cheat.