Annabelle Wallis Saw Peaky Blinders As A Personal Challenge

Adeptly played by "Malignant" alum Annabelle Wallis, Grace Burgess (later, Grace Shelby) is one of the key figures in "Peaky Blinders" history. Ever since her season 1 appearance as an undercover barmaid/plant-turned-love interest for Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), the character's complex arc saw her betray and then fall for the ambitious gangster, marry another man, carry Thomas' child, then eventually become Thomas' wife before her tragic death in series 3, breaking Thomas Shelby's heart and hastening his mental downfall for the rest of the series. It's an excellent performance backed by a continually thrilling performance, and the series wouldn't be what it is without her driving role in Thomas' mental state.

While Wallis undoubtedly gave gravitas and power to her performance in the role, she reveals in a new interview with The Glass Magazine that she took the role on as a personal challenge, one that would see if she would sink or swim in such a pressure cooker of such a series. It's a challenge she loved, she reveals, and the series' high quality itself gave her the space she needed to thrive in such a high-pressure environment.  

Career growth by order of the Peaky Blinders

In the interview, Wallis initially discusses the limitations of getting roles as a newer performer. As an early-career actor, "especially at the beginning, you don't always have the freedom of choice or the access to scripts that you would really want," she explains. Once she finally landed a series of "Peaky Blinders" quality, it freed her to fully experiment as an actress:

"When I got Peaky Blinders it was that moment of 'This is just an incredible script, if I am able to be a part of this it really could be a game-changer.' Not just in a career sense, but in a personal sense. You get to show yourself in a light that reflects your ability but you have, until then, not been allowed to show – because they have not been on the page or your character just does not have that longevity or scope. When someone like Steven Knight is writing your script it is just incredible, not to mention the caliber of people already attached."

Her respect for Cillian Murphy as a performer also contributed to a realization that she was in for a true challenge. "To be honest," she recalls, "when I heard that Cillian Murphy was attached all I could think was 'I would die to work with him' [...] He raises the bar so incredibly high that you either sink or you swim. If you fail in that moment then you are out." She found the challenge of trying to prove herself in that sort of situation "thrilling," out of a love for the challenge, but also because of the high evident quality of "Peaky Blinders" itself:

"When you know you are protected by the quality of people around you and it is such a tight ship, you relax into yourself as an actor and you can really push your own boundaries because you know you are in a safe environment."

"Peaky Blinders" finally gave Wallis the space she long desired, and the series was better for it.