The actress was five weeks pregnant when she was asked to star in Collateral – and writer David Hare simply incorporated it into the script.
The workplace is not always kind to pregnant women in the UK. Maternity discrimination is still rife: a 2017 government study found that around one in nine expectant or new mothers had been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant or treated so poorly at work that they felt they had no choice but to resign. Pregnancy can also present a unique challenge for women who work as actresses, who are often required to hide their pregnancy while onset or onstage.
But when it came to accepting her role in new TV thriller Collateral, Carey Mulligan faced no such pressures. The actress has revealed that when she was approached by screenwriter David Hare about starring in the BBC2 detective show, she felt she had to warn him that she was pregnant with her second child.
Mulligan told TV Times that she didn’t respond to Hare straight away when he offered her a role in the BBC Two detective drama. “I wrote back to David and told him I was interested, but I was also five weeks pregnant.”
The part Hare had offered her was that of Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie, a passionate and experienced Metropolitan Police officer who sets out to find the truth after a pizza delivery driver is shot dead at random (apparently).
And rather than running a mile at the prospect of a pregnant DI Glaspie, Hare told Mulligan that he would simply write her pregnancy into the script.
“He said he didn’t see why Kip couldn’t be pregnant and only added two references to the pregnancy in the entire show,” Mulligan explained. “We just put a bump in and got on with it, and as my real bump grew we just took away the fake bump.”
Mulligan gave birth to her second child in August 2017, after filming for Collateral came to an end (she also has a two-year-old daughter, Evelyn, with husband Marcus Mumford). She said it was only towards the end of the shoot that her pregnancy affected her day-to-day life onset.
“I was seven months pregnant and the baby was kicking me like mad,” she said, adding: “By the end, my bump was so big that I looked a bit like a Teletubby in my forensic suit, I thought, ‘No one’s going to buy this!’”
By only mentioning DI Glaspie’s pregnancy a couple of times in the Collateral script, Hare has highlighted to viewers that being pregnant doesn’t reduce a woman’s ability to do a high-pressured job (or, indeed, any job).
It’s a quiet statement, but a statement all the same, and one that’s bound to have challenged a few perceptions. We’re reminded of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who dryly dismissed the histrionics surrounding the news that she is expecting her first child.
“I’m just pregnant, not incapacitated,” Ardern told The Guardian in January. “Like everyone else who has found themselves pregnant before, I’m just keeping on going.”
The first episode of Collateral aired on BBC Two on Monday 12 February; you can catch up on BBC iPlayer here.
Images: Rex Features / BBC Two