Hannah Waddingham on mental health, misogyny, Ted Lasso and Eurovision
Obviously, in showbusiness, women are still held to higher standards regarding physical appearance, and you mentioned your height. How does this affect you, especially when feeling more pressure to look a certain way, the more famous you’ve become?
I would say not pressured. I am, and will always be, very proud not to be a skinny Minnie. It’s just not how I’m built. And I’m a mother, so I’m not a big gym bunny. Women need to celebrate women as much as possible, which is why I always say, yep, I’m more than happy to say I wear Spanx on a red carpet.
More women in the public eye should acknowledge that we may have smoothing stuff on and support-wear. I like things to be immaculately tailored. It’s not trying to make me look less curvy because I like being curvy. It’s more about me liking to look polished, but I shy away, like hiding Spanx under that blanket before I put them on. No, they’ll be out on my dress, ready to put on. I think people just need to be more honest about their process. My daughter’s eight. I want her to read an article that says, “Oh, yeah, I did it. I do that.”
You’ve also previously mentioned that your background in theatre has kept your mind and body strong. So how do you keep yourself emotionally and physically strong nowadays?
Well, I was, for a good long while, going to the gym when I could, maybe twice, maybe three times a week. But I haven’t done anything at all, not a minute of any fitness, for the last year and a half.
I had a problem with my back, which is now thankfully resolved, but instead of tiptoeing around it and embracing it and strengthening it, it affected my mental health quite badly, but I’ve come out the other side of it now, and so I need to get back into it. But having been a dancer all my life, pilates, reformer Pilates, and band work, your own weight is great for the female form.
Mental health is obviously a huge, huge theme of Ted Lasso. And you were recently at the White House, with the cast, talking about the importance of mental health. What was that like?
It was amazing, the president and the First Lady couldn’t have been more lovely. For those people who wonder whether it was a kind of lovey fest of A-list, overly fortunate nonsense, not at all! There was a brief mutual congratulations on where we all find ourselves, how fortunate we all are, us and them, and the importance of using your platform.
Then we got into it all, such as how much work Dr. Jill Biden does with mental health. We all spoke very candidly and kept the conversation going. So yeah, my God, if you had told me that this show was going to end in the Oval Office, I wouldn’t have believed you.
How do you look after your own mental health?
I would say it gets harder and harder the more the focus is on me in terms of tiredness. I think sleep is key, and also very much keeping in touch with those in your life before all the crazy started. They are the same people that I mentioned in my rambled Emmy’s acceptance speech. Those key people are the great loves and the great gladiators of my life, and I hope I am to them.
Last question, would you rather be the boss (of a football club) or a WAG?
A boss! I mean, there is not even one molecule of my being that would ever consider being a WAG, either professionally or in real life. Hell, f****** no!
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 Grand Final will be broadcast live on Saturday 13 May 2023 at 8pm (BST) on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.