Jules Verne's seminal novel Around The World In 80 Days was a sensation on publication. Unsurprisingly a sizeable number of wannabe Phileas Foggs attempted the challenge in real life.
The age of Covid makes life trickier for budding adventurers. You've reached Australia only to discover your vaccine passport is out of date. Back to Blightly you bowl for your booster.
Far safer to travel the globe from the sofa with the recently realised BBC adaptation, starring David Tennent as Fogg (after the Tardis, a hot air balloon should be a doddle) and Leonie Benesch as the intrepid Abigail.
The role is something of a dream come true for Benesch: travelling the world with David Tennent to the accompaniment of a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. You and us both, Leonie.
What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?
Around The World in 80 Days!! When I was 13 I saw ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and was obsessed with the behind the scenes features on the DVD.
I so wanted to go travel the world with a film team and get to see and act in beautiful places. I was also so in love with Hans Zimmer’s music. Now, at the age of 30, my childhood dream has been fulfilled!
I got to travel to absolutely stunning places, act with wonderful colleagues in a comedy adventure show and Hans Zimmer has composed the soundtrack. I’m beyond thrilled about it!
The scripts are also so beautifully written and Abigail Fix’s character arch throughout the series is a wonderful journey to play and be on.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I cannot believe I got to act alongside the likes of David Tennant, Lindsay Duncan and Jason Watkins. They are all such professionals at what they do and I really got to soak up and learn from the best!
Playing the role of Abigail Fix was a dream, she is a powerful and determined woman who is always on the front foot. I loved every minute on set.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
Oh, there are a few jobs on my CV I did because I needed the money. I don’t regret doing them because they helped me get by and pay for my studies but it would be nice if I could just erase one or two of them… I won’t say which ones, ha!
What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?
I still need to build or buy a castle for my cat. I also just want to continue working on exciting projects with amazing teams – that is the dream!
Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?
My friends! My friendships are incredibly important to me and I turn to them for everything. Also, no one likes to drink alone ;)
Tell us something nobody knows about you…
That’s a tough one! My grandmother is French and my grandfather is from Transylvania.
What’s your favourite item of clothing – and what does it mean to you?
I have a velvet jacket that I absolutely love! It’s blue, green and gold.
One of my best friends from Berlin was visiting me in London a few years ago - she saw it at Portobello Road market and picked it out for me.
I wear it whenever I can. It’s a really precious item to me.
Favourite accessory – watch / jewellery / etc – and why is it special to you?
Hmm…I don’t really obsess over accessories. But I do love earrings. I guess my little silver cat earrings are an item I always take with me when I travel.
What items do you take on holiday and why?
Sunscreen. Because without it, I burn! I even burn in March in London.
Is there an item you threw away – or lost – that you really miss?
My French Great Grandmother gave me her wedding ring before she passed away. I had a break-in in an East London flat I was staying in at the time and it was stolen.
Such an irreplaceable piece and still makes me sad thinking about it.
What’s next on your shopping list?
I don’t need anything at the moment.. but I find it very difficult to walk past a nice jacket. You can never have too many great jackets right?!
What would you buy if money was no object?
If money were no object I would pay for the oceans to be cleaned up and all deep sea mining to be stopped.
Leonie Benesch stars in Around The World in 80 Days on PBS Masterpiece (US) from 2nd January 2022 at 8pm ET and BBC One (UK) on 26th December