Elisabeth Moss found Shirley role 'frightening'

Elisabeth Moss found Shirley role 'frightening'

Elisabeth Moss was nervous about portraying Shirley Jackson in her new movie because it's daunting playing a "significant historical figure".

The 37-year-old actress portrays horror novelist Jackson in biographical drama 'Shirley' and she was acutely aware that she wanted to get her portrayal of the late writer correct.

In an interview with Collider, Moss said: "This the first time that I've ever played a real person, I think. I could be wrong, but I think so. It's been a long road, so I could be forgetting some poor soul, but it's the first time that I've played a significant historical figure, I should say, that everybody knows.

"I think that was the challenge for me. It was a little frightening. I was a little nervous about that."

'The Handmaid's Tale' star hadn't been interested in researching into her characters before the project and credited co-star Michael Stuhlbarg for helping her understand who Jackson was.

She said: "I'm not really that interested in doing research and stuff, and I had to do all of this research, all of a sudden, and approach it in a completely different way.

"Michael was incredibly inspiring, in that sense, because he's very good at that and that's how he works. He really helped inspiring enthusiasm and also literally sent me material to read. I honestly don't know if I could have done it without him.

"The research into who Shirley was laid the groundwork. That was the bedrock of it.

"And then, at one point, I remember saying to Michael, right before we started, 'Now, I think we have to let it go. I think we've gotta let it go.'

"You can get so wrapped up in playing a real person that you care more about that than playing the other parts of them. And so, we both decided that we were going to do our own Shirley and Stanley, and this was gonna be our own version of them."

The film follows Shirley and husband Stanley Hyman (Stuhlbarg), whose marriage is shaken when they invite a young couple to move in with them, although the events lead to Jackson's next novel.

Jackson published her debut novel 'The Road Through the Wall' in 1948 and she followed up that book with 'Hangsaman', 'The Bird's Nest' and 'The Sundial' among others.