For Laura Aikman, life imitated art on the set of Archie. Stepping into the shoes of Hollywood legend, Dyan Cannon – who was married to Cary Grant from 1965 to 1968 – the role had Laura collaborating with leading man and Harry Potter alum, Jason Isaacs.
Speaking exclusively to HELLO! about the hit period drama, Laura, 37, has opened up about the surprising dynamic that emerged between herself and Jason on the set of Archie – and it explains why their chemistry is so electric on screen.
Before our interview had even begun, I'd had the pleasure of attending a Q&A with the cast, and from the off, the mutual respect and admiration between Jason and Laura was evident.
"Jason did put me at ease straight away," Laura explained to HELLO!. "The first thing he said to me was 'I was watching you, darling, you're absolutely wonderful' and we just got on.
"He's very funny. He was very good at telling me show business stories and made me laugh," she continued. "I guess he's aware of his status compared to mine, but in those first couple of weeks, he definitely made an effort to put me at ease. We got on great."
Before they'd even arrived on set, both Laura and Jason had done their homework – Jason had poured through the minutes of Cary's business meetings, while Laura was given the privilege of meeting with the real Dyan Cannon on various Zoom calls, and they've since become fast friends.
But, as Laura and Jason discovered the many nuances of Cary and Dyan's relationship, they began to argue, just like the couple, which allowed them to truly inhabit their characters.
"We argued at times, and it was good, it felt right for Cary and Dyan," said Laura. "We were both fighting our own corner. Whenever we were falling out – we weren't actually falling out," she clarified.
"But talking about scenes or whatever, it was because we were both being Cary and Dyan and we both wanted to represent our side of it the best. It was great that it was Jason."
For the real Dyan, the American actress and filmmaker, 86, was completely blown away by Laura and Jason's performances. "He nailed it. It didn't surprise me because Jason is a brilliant actor, but it delighted me and sometimes infuriated me and sometimes frustrated me," she told HELLO!. "And even today, I became so emotional in there [after the screening and Q&A].
"You know, everyone's sitting around in this chamber – and just imagine someone playing out your life. You can't imagine because why would they ever do that? It's got some of the most personal things in my life, so it's a staggering experience for me."
As for Laura's performance, Dyan – who serves as an executive producer on Archie – was taken aback during the casting process, after realising that Laura had nailed an iconic aspect of her character.
During a roundtable discussion, Dyan recalled how impressed she was after hearing Laura recreate her iconic laugh. "I was in on the casting of course, and they showed me all the girls that were auditioning, and I said 'That girl got my laugh!'
"I don't know if you know who Jim Brooks is, but he's a very famous director in America, and New York was shut down for the snow several years ago, there were no cars, nothing. And I was laughing and from three blocks away, he goes, "Dyan is that you?' because my laugh is famous, people identify it with me and she got it. She got the laugh. I couldn't believe it. That's not easy! But she got a lot more than the laugh."