Wilding comes in from the cold

Rose Leslie in rehearsals for Contractions at the Crucible Studio opposite  Sara Stewart
Rose Leslie in rehearsals for Contractions at the Crucible Studio opposite Sara Stewart

When Rose Leslie went on BBC Breakfast the other day to talk about the play she is appearing in at the Crucible she caused something of a Twitterstorm among Game of Thrones fans surprised by her accent.

In the TV epic fantasy series she played feisty Wilding Ygritte with a broad Northern accent but her natural voice reflects her background from an aristocratic Scottish family, a public school education and drama school training.

She has come to Sheffield to appear in the regional premiere of Contractions, a play by Mike Bartlett in which an employee undergoes a grilling from her manager because she has started a relationship with a colleague.

The actor says what immediately drew her to the project was the quality of writing by the Olivier Award-winner and creator of TV hit Doctor Foster – “and then hearing that Contractions was being put on up here in Sheffield, I’ve always longed to work at the Crucible.

“It is brilliantly funny but also appalling at the same time. It’s quite rare to come across in one sentence something so far-fetched and yet plausible. It’s a brilliant intense piece, reading it you don’t come up for air.”

Her experience of the office environment has not been as brutal as that experienced by her character, Emma. “I’ve done reception work in London in between jobs in order to balance auditions but the spotlight never shone on me to this extent. After this, there’s no way I am ever going to set foot in an office,” she laughs.

It is unlikely Rose Leslie will need to resort to that, however, with her Game of Thrones profile.

“When I auditioned for season two it was not as established as it is now and in no way the phenomenon it has become,” she explains. “Which is good because in hindsight I would have been petrified at the audition.”

And then the role turned out to be a physical experience. “Iceland was a cold and rough terrain, there was a lot of running and climbing up ice walls. It was a different type of intensity from something like this.”

Eventually Ygritte got an arrow through the heart. “I was killed by a wee lad at the end of season four when there was a big penultimate battle scene. I was always aware that she would perish because I had read the books before I started.

“I am still recognised because of the ginger hair but the fact I died a few years ago people are beginning to say, who is that chick?”

That may be a touch disingenuous given the fact that the celebrity media remain fascinated by her real-life relationship with co-star Kit Harington, aka Jon Snow.

“But in the past it’s always been an awesome experience because a lot of the fans if they do come up are very loyal and passionate and wanting to talk about the show and I think that’s an accolade to Game of Thrones as a whole.”

Contractions opens tonight (June 23) at the Crucible Studio and continues until July 16.