Dame Imelda Staunton says performing in Gypsy was ‘tough’ on husband Jim Carter

Dame Imelda Staunton has said her starring role in West End show Gypsy was “tough” on her husband Jim Carter.

The actress, 68, who was recently made a dame in the King’s Birthday Honours, won the best actress in a musical gong at the 2016 Olivier Awards for her role as Momma Rose in Jonathan Kent’s 2015 production.

Speaking to British Vogue, the Bafta award-winner reflected on her marriage to Downton Abbey star Carter, 75, and what “success” means to her.

“Success is a really tricky word, and it should be spelled with a very small S,” she said.

“I think it poisons people. I feel Jim and I have made our lives work as a marriage within this business, and we take our life more seriously than our jobs.

“Of course, we both take (the job) very seriously. But you go, what’s the most important thing here? That I play another part? Or that we go on a very nice holiday, or that we have that time in the garden, that we have our life?

“But we can afford to say that – I don’t mean financially, but with the work we’ve done and are lucky enough to still be doing.

“I think we know how fortunate we are.”

She added: “I think when we got married, we did say, look, there’s no point if we’re going to be apart.

“Early on, Jim did a lot more telly and films than I was doing in the ’80s.

Imelda Staunton arrives at the world premiere of The Crown series five at the Theatre Royal
Imelda Staunton arrives at the world premiere of The Crown series five at the Theatre Royal (Ian West/PA)

“If he was going to go to an exotic location, we’d go, ‘Right, well, I can come out that weekend.’

“So we made that work. Or there’s two jobs,” she mimes looking at a diary, “I can go and do that. Do you need to do that? OK? Lovely.”

Speaking about the impact of doing theatre, Dame Imelda said that performing in Gypsy for an eight-month run “was tough on him (Carter)”.

“I don’t see anyone, I don’t do anything. I don’t socialise. I don’t do anything,” she said.

“And that’s fine because my job is to do this.

“I would be so embarrassed if I couldn’t do my job because I had some drinks.”

On screen Dame Imelda is known for her role as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films and portraying the late Queen in royal Netflix drama The Crown.

Rapper Central Cee on the cover of British Vogue's July edition
Rapper Central Cee stars on the cover of British Vogue’s July edition (Jo Metson Scott/PA)

Speaking about the monarch, she told British Vogue: “What I admire, (is how she) was the last bastion of, ‘I’ve said I would do this’.

“That’s over now, that’s gone. Someone who would turn up, come rain or come shine – people don’t do that in any walk of life now.

“I do believe that being anointed Queen was (for her) like becoming a nun, the degree of responsibility she felt was enormous.”

Dame Imelda’s next role is as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! which is playing at the London Palladium from July 6.

See the full feature in the July issue of British Vogue, available via digital download and on newsstands from Tuesday June 18.