Modern Love season 2: Minnie Driver’s Secrets from the Set – 'I loved quarantining alone in Ireland'

The actor and singer talks about her episode of Amazon Prime series Modern Love, including "coming home" to Ireland, understanding grief and disagreeing with director John Carney.

By Becky Gamester-Newton Published: 5 August 2021 - 2.35pm
Amazon Prime Video Minnie Driver in Modern Love

Modern Love is back – and if you thought the cast of the first season was good, you’ll be impressed with the ensembled for season two of the anthology series as well.

Oscar-nominated actor Minnie Driver stars in one episode, called On A Serpentine Road, With The Top Down. It sees her character forced to decide whether to sell the vintage car she owned with her late husband and move on with her new partner.

Minnie spoke to BT.com and other press about filming the show…

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Remembering her mother

In Modern Love, Minnie’s character is seen talking to her dead husband in her car, which her current partner wants her to sell.

The actor said she could relate to using objects to cope with grief and spoke candidly about the death of her mother, the fashion designer and model Gaynor Churchward.

“My mum died this year and I have a lot of really beautiful memories that are objects of hers. I could never let them go,” she said.

“I struggled with the concept of this woman having to get rid of this car. I was angry with the husband for saying that she needed to get rid of it because they become the object of your love when the person that you love is gone.”

Gaynor Churchward and Minnie Driver Getty/1998 Ron Galella, Ltd.

She said telling a story about grief was challenging.

“The themes of love and grief are difficult. They're difficult for humans to metabolise, and they're certainly difficult to do together,” she said.

“In film and television, they can often be incredibly sentimental and lose the element of truth. What I loved is that this was really real. It was very hard. It's difficult to love somebody. It's difficult to love at all after somebody has died. You're shut down and you're completely cocooned from the rest of the world. So the idea of being able to come back to life and that love does that for you - to explore that was really interesting.

“I feel very much like if I let go of my grief and my pain over the people in my life who have died, does that mean that I love them less? How do I do that? And I think thematically it's a really interesting journey, and it's quite a high degree of difficulty because I think you really can get into some real some sort of sentimental s**t that's not interesting, as opposed to the veracity of what that emotion feels like. It was very interesting for me to to get to be part of that kind of a story.”

Minnie also spoke about the car itself – a vintage Triumph. Was it as beautiful to drive as it looks, or was it as temperamental as in the story?

“It's sticky between first and second [gear], it doesn't like to be cold, but when we were out in the Sally Gap [in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains], I could really drive it,” she enthused.

“It was absolutely brilliant. Those cars, I know they are notoriously a little bit troublesome, but they drive so beautifully.”

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Ireland ‘is a sense of coming home’

Minnie’s breakthrough role in 1995 movie Circle of Friends was also filmed in Ireland, and the actor says coming to the country is now always very special to her.

“I love Ireland,” she gushed. “I think it must be that there's something there for me that is a cornerstone of my life because it has been that way every single time I set foot there. I feel it's a sense of coming home… it's really just a sense of connection.”

Minnie Driver at the Modern Love season 2 premiere Getty/2021 WireImage

While some actors may bemoan the isolation rules around filming during a pandemic, Minnie admitted that she loved the peace and quiet.

“I got to quarantine in a house by myself in the middle of nowhere in Kildare for two weeks before I started filming. And it was one of the happiest times.

"Maybe it was being alone after, not having been in a house with my partner and my son, but it was just being in Ireland, running every day through the fields, the way that it smells, and then driving that car through the Wicklow Mountains. It's so evocative of a time that I was so happy and that's never changed.”

Director John Carney and I ‘did not agree’

Minnie revealed that she had creative differences with Modern Love director John Carney – but it wasn’t the on-set stand-off you might imagine, and she admits she benefited from the experience.

“I calibrated the performance very differently to the director,” she explains. “He had a very different emotional calibration of how he wanted to tell the story and we did not agree about it.

“However, I've always had a great reverence for the position of a director. I think it is part of the exchange, that when you when you enter into that relationship on a film set that they are your guide in a way, that they are telling the story and you fit into that.

“I was really glad to put my stuff down and do what he wanted in order to try and expand and to grow a bit and to not just be, ‘I can only do it like this. I can only create this way’. It was like, ‘Well, maybe you could create a different way. What if you created in a way that doesn't feel instinctive to you, but it's instinctive to this person and you trust and like this person, why don't you try that?’

"It was very interesting as an actor for me making this. I really enjoyed it. I think I'm better for it.”

Director John Carney Getty/2016 Jim Spellman

She added that her preconception of the Irish director (above) helped with the experience on set.

“I knew that he was brilliant. I loved him when he was in [the band] The Frames. He's a creative being, which is why I trusted when he had a different way of looking at this.

“I like all the things that he's done. So it was great - it's good when you when you like and respect someone and you also see that their track record is really great. It's much easier in a way to let go of your own, to let go of some of your stuff and embrace theirs.

“It wasn't like, ‘Oh, I'm embracing this guy's idea that don't agree with, and also I'm not sure that he's up too much’. John's a really impressive, powerful, charismatic person.

“I think not seeing eye-to-eye with somebody creatively is a good thing. It's how you create. It's so funny, just the idea that we should all get along and see eye-to-eye with everybody - it's a fallacy.

“The idea of of finding a way to find this middle ground or letting go of some of your own stuff to come and meet somebody creatively - I think that's interesting as an artist. I think you should do that stuff. It shouldn't just be, ‘well either they do it my way or I'm stomping off’. Or the director shouting at an actor. It's a conversation, creativity.

“But he's great. He really is. He's a really interesting, passionate-about-what-he-does person, and I've always got time for that.”

Modern Love season 2 is available on Amazon Prime Video from Friday, August 13. Season 1 is streaming now.