Daisy Edgar-Jones on exploring the horrors of dating and the daily fears women face

It may come as a surprise to men, but dating can be dangerous, and many women will relate to the lead character in Daisy Edgar-Jones’ new film as she navigates the difficult world of online dating – and the behaviours that come with it.

The star became a household name during the pandemic playing Marianne Sheridan in the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s best-seller Normal People.

The show was a huge hit for the BBC, getting over 62 million streams on iPlayer in 2020, making it their biggest series of the year.

She admits it’s been an odd time – though of course not just for her.

“I mean, it’s been a wild ride for us all and it definitely is strange going into a pandemic one way and coming out and it being quite different,” Edgar-Jones told Sky News.

“It has been sort of crazy.”

The film Fresh was one of the opportunities that came the actress’s way after Normal People came out.

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The black-comedy thriller is a directorial debut from Mimi Cave – and is a movie that is best enjoyed the less you know about it before watching.

Edgar-Jones says it got her attention because of the clever way it looks at what women experience as they try to navigate finding a partner.

“I think that one of the things that drew me to the film was this chance to – in a really subtle way and using genre and the social thriller aspect of it – to explore just the general anxieties of being a woman and dating and how much you try and put yourself out there and let your guard down, but also just the general sort of day-to-day fears that we experience.

“Even just walking home late at night – there’s a scene where Noa walks home with the key in her hand and we have to think about that, and it’s become so normalised that we don’t even really question how ridiculous it is that we live with those anxieties and we shouldn’t have to.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to sort of unpick some of that.”

While there may be an assumption that celebrities don’t experience the same dating issues as everyone else, Edgar-Jones says she could certainly relate to some of her character’s story, saying bad dates are something all women go through.

“We all do!” she admits.

“I personally, I have been lucky, I haven’t been on a huge amount of dates, but definitely the ones I’ve been on have not been as bad as poor Noa.

“Like, she’s really had some bad luck with the men she’s been dating, sadly.”

While Noa’s story may take an extreme turn, the themes the film explores are everyday issues for many women.

Violence against women has become part of public discourse in the last year after the murder of Sarah Everard triggered a wave of anger and frustration.

Hollywood has also reflected those themes with Emerald Fennell’s drama Promising Young Woman, about a woman out for revenge on men who take advantage of drunk women.

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Promising Young Woman got the best original screenplay prizes at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs last year, while also winning outstanding British film at the UK awards.

Edgar-Jones says being able to explore the issues that affect women, but in an entertaining movie, was key for her.

“My friends and I were talking about this recently, I found a lot of the audiences that seem to be drawn to true crime are women, and I think it’s because we want to know if we were in that situation, how we’d react, because so often the victim is a woman.

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“And I think this was an opportunity in this film to tell this story through a female lens and explore the topic, and it can still be an entertaining film, but you can also watch it and take something deeper, and I think that’s what it does so well.

“It doesn’t hit you over the head with its themes, but you leave thinking about them, and I think that’s really cool… It was the same with Promising Young Woman – it was talking about something quite important, but it was also done in a very stylistic, fun way that you were able to enjoy it and take something from it at the same time.”

Fresh is out now on Disney +

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