Jessie Cave Discusses Using Anxiety as an Outlet

Actress Jessie Cave, who portrayed Lavender Brown in the final three Harry Potter films, recently spoke to the New Statesman about a revolving theme in her work: anxiety. Since Harry Potter, Cave has gone on to create a book of illustrations (which she also posts on social media), a number of webseries, and a one-woman comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

She explains in the interview that her one-woman show, called I Loved Her, was born out of her realization that she had become pregnant following a one-night stand with her now-boyfriend, comic Alfie Brown:

So as I was pregnant, and as I was falling in love with him, that opened up this massive can of worms for me, psychologically. It’s an incredibly cathartic and a bit like my diary on stage.

Since its debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I Loved Her has had two sold-out runs in London. While Cave was praised for exploring her feeling of jealousy and even Instagram stalking, she says,

I did it purely because I thought it was worth being honest about these things. Because people don’t talk about it! People don’t talk about stalking online, people don’t talk about being obsessed with their boyfriends’ exes, at least [publicly], because it’s embarrassing and slightly humiliating. And everyone does it. And it became such a part of my daily life that I thought, I just I have to.

In fact, Cave shared that it was her fascination with one of her boyfriend’s exes that formed the basis for I Loved Her:

She’s amazing. And I can’t get over the fact that he can have loved her and then… that’s it. How can that love just disappear? And that’s the nature of love; it can go on in different ways, and that’s okay. But I would prefer it if he [were] physically repulsed by all of his exes and hated them.

Cave reveals that the ex in question actually came to one of the show’s early previews, although she had referred to her by a different name:

But it was so clearly about her that afterwards I went up to her, after having really never spoken to her and after her having seen me just do an hour about her, and I was like, ‘Is it [okay] if I just call her your name?’ She was like, ‘Yeah, that’s fine!’ I don’t think she actually thought I would. It’s just very awkward.

While she explains that it’s no longer awkward for her and her boyfriend to talk about each others’ lives on stage, it wasn’t that way at first:

Before we were together at all, when I was pregnant, he made a joke on-stage about the baby’s name. And it got back to me, and everyone was like, ‘He can’t do that, he actually can’t do that, you’ve got to stop him.’ But I was just like, ‘That’s so cool! He’s talking about me!’

Having had a child, Cave says, has helped her with some of her paranoia and addiction to the Internet:

When I was single and living alone, a huge part of my day was online, and that’s the norm for so many people. But now my stalking and obsessions and neuroses I have to kind of minimise to five minutes a day when he’s not looking at me.

Her work on I Loved Her, she explains, has felt very personal for her:

It’s so funny when people say, ‘Oh my [G]od, that character you do! It’s, like, amazing! It’s so anxious and worried!’ And I’m like, ‘That’s not a character. It’s definitely not a character.’ I’m just an anxious person, and I’m a worrier, and this is my outlet.

In the interview, the New Statesman also brought up the controversy of Noma Dumezweni’s casting as Hermione Granger in the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Before Cave took on the role of Lavender Brown, Lavender had been portrayed as black. Cave shares,

I first heard about the play because my sister [actress Bebe Cave] auditioned for it, which I thought was really funny. Imagine if she’d played Lavender. Immediately, I was like ‘No. You are not auditioning for that! That’s mine!’

She adds,

But I think it’s great; they had to do something different. It would be so boring if they’d cast someone who looks exactly like Emma Watson. It’s so boring seeing the same people on stage, on screen all the time, and it has to change. I’m done with it.

Making her point, Cave says that each of the 7,000 actresses who auditioned for the role of Lavender when she did “was completely different looking”:

I was cast because [I was] the right fit for Rupert [Grint]. It wasn’t because they wanted to cast someone blonde and white; it was because I was the right person for the role. And [Dumezweni] has been cast because she’s the right person for the role. She’s good; that’s why she’s got the job.

Jessie Cave’s I Loved Her is running at the Soho Theatre until January 9.

Can you relate to using your anxiety as an outlet? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!