Polly worked with Austin Butler on Elvis and Rami Malek on Bohemian Rhapsody. Helping them to earn Golden Globes and an Oscar respectively
Polly Bennett is a sought-after and lauded movement director, choreographer and director based in London. Her film, TV and theatre experience spans creating nuanced, full-bodied characters to orchestrating elaborate, large-scale sequences. Polly’s insights into human behaviour and physical psychology have earned the respect of a coterie of award-winning creatives including Baz Luhrmann, Rami Malek, Sam Mendes, Emerald Fennell, Naomi Ackie and Austin Butler. Her work has spanned Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning projects such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Elvis, Netflix’s The Crown, Hulu’s The Great and BBC’s Killing Eve.
TUESDAY 4TH JULY 2023, LONDON
Yellowbelly: What is your process when it comes to researching & recreating the physicality of a character?
Polly: “It’s never the same; I sort of go where the work takes me but ultimately it’s about becoming an expert on someone. I look at a lot of photos and footage for similarities and differences but I also listen to podcasts, read articles and generally allow space and time for me to absorb all physical information about the world or the character and find inventive ways to turn them into exercises for the actor(s.)”
Yellowbelly: What is your advice for a performer wanting to transfer from performing to the creative side?
Polly: “Actors are inherently creative so it makes sense to broaden your perspective to different roles. It’s a misconception that we all must be one thing so be curious about what your colleagues are doing in different departments, think about their pedagogy and the way they deliver the work as well as the technicalities of what they are doing. This will enable a knowledge no one can dispute when you venture into a different role, including yourself.”
Yellowbelly: What is the role of a Movement director on a production?
Polly: “It’s to engage the actors with and help a director look after the physical life of a play or production. Movement Directors work closely with actors and directors on stage, live performance, television and film to propose a physical language and devise training methods or teach skills that will help facilitate a specific physical state, style or world.”
Yellowbelly: Any advice for creatives/performers entering the industry?
Polly: “Think that you’re auditioning the directors and their project when you meet them. Invoice with all your details on the paperwork and put your name on any JPEG’s you email. Write to people saying how you think you can help them not what you think you deserve. Try and understand what you think success is – I promise it will help. Be on time (early = on time.) Drink more water.”
Yellowbelly: How does movement and physicality inform how an actor approaches a scene?
Polly: “I think our bodies reveal our psychologies in many magical and mysterious ways so I think it affects everything. We are the way we move so our experiences, our heritage, our passions, our insecurities and so on are all inside our bodies – why would it not be inside a character’s too?”