Best known in the UK for her television roles as Lucy Lindsay-Hogg in The Crown and as Meghan in The Secret She Keeps, Jessica de Gouw is slowly but steadily conquering the heart of Britain. When interviewed a few weeks ago, Jessica was filming at Leavesden Studios (Warner Bros) just outside London and as such, observing social distancing.
Despite these restrictions, our Editor Julia Pasarón and Creative Director Paul Martin had a most productive conversation with this young Australian actor who is becoming a true star and a most interesting woman. She paints, she is an avid reader and her interests range from travelling to interior design, from horses to antique markets, which she confesses are her guilty pleasure. “My idea of a perfect morning is a rummage through the Kempton Antiques market at dawn, when all the dealers are racing around in the frosty chill, with a hot cup of tea in hand, heaven.”
I think that what initially attracted me to acting was the riddle of the text…– Jessica de Gouw
Her passion for art is a big part of why she lives in London, “having access to the art galleries of Europe, and being constantly surrounded by art history still blows my mind,” she says, “I studied art and art history in school and have always loved painting. I have a family of pretty incredible artists. My oma actually taught me how to paint, she was self-taught, but her portraiture was breathtaking.” Jess grew up in a semi rural suburb of Perth. A big animal lover since her early years, her first career thought went in the direction of veterinary but by the time she was a teenager the acting bug had got hold of her.
First were a few appearances in kids’ TV, then a bit of stage in high school and after school, drama club. “I think that what initially attracted me to acting was the riddle of the text,” explains Jess, “you get a scene and you have to find a way through it that makes sense emotionally, a way to connect the different actions and thoughts in it. When you do this with another person, you’re building up a character and a relationship within the context of a scene; and I really liked the puzzle of working that out.” She went on to graduate from Curtin University majoring in performance studies.
During her time at University, she felt consumed by “in-yer-face” theatre, especially with Sarah Kane’s work. “I was obsessed with it, “she admits with a smile, “the darker the better.” Straight after University, Jess moved to Sydney and started to work on TV and did a bit of film. In 2012 she moved to LA and straight away landed the recurring role of Helena Bertinelli (the Huntress) in the action-adventure series, Arrow, based on the DC comic Green Arrow. Jessica remembers those days with fondness, “It was really good fun, but I was also terrified. It was American TV!”
The series lasted eight seasons with the finale aired in June this year. While working in Arrow, Jessica was also doing other jobs, among them the film These Final Hours, an Australian sci-fi apocalyptic thriller film written and directed by Zak Hilditch. It was selected to be screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section