Was reclusive 19th century author Emily Bronte inspired to write “Wuthering Heights” after experimenting with opium, tattoos and a torrid affair with the local clergyman?

Actress Emma Mackey doesn’t think so — but she portrays Bronte doing all of those things and more in “Emily,” a new drama that deliberately ignores the trappings and conventions of the traditional period biopic.

“No. I don’t care. But also, I don’t care!” the star, best known for the Netflix hit ‘Sex Education’, told AFP.

“It’s not a documentary – I had to focus on dropping all the biographical elements and clinging to the fact that it’s just a story ‘that writer-director Frances O’Connor’ wanted me to tell,” she said.

The question of how a shy Victorian woman who spent most of her short life on the remote Yorkshire moors wrote a dark and passionate Gothic novel that shocked her contemporary readers has long vexed scholars and fans alike.
“Emily,” released Friday by Warner Bros in the UK, offers a non-literal response, allowing elements of “Wuthering Heights” to “seep through and feed into that real world” of its author, Mackey said.

Her heroine is led astray by her rebellious and troubled brother Branwell – a prototype of the brooding Heathcliff of her novel – and frolics with her father’s parish priest, William Weightman, who has parallels with the gentleman Edgar of the book.

According to Mackey, in reality, Emily and her sisters Charlotte and Anne likely drew their complex creative ideas from the vast library of books, including Gothic literature, to which they had access growing up.

But, she notes, there were also macabre elements in the Bronte family’s real world.

“Emily Bronte’s real bedroom overlooks a graveyard in Haworth (in Yorkshire)…I think the innate morbidity there was 100%,” she said.

The sisters reportedly saw people in the nearby town of the factory “dying of tuberculosis (tuberculosis) because of the water that is infected by your own cemetery,” Mackey added.

“Death was everywhere. They saw children die. It was very tangible to them.”

– ‘What’s behind the door’ –
– ‘What’s behind the door’ –
The film, which will arrive in US theaters early next year, was a hit with critics after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, where Mackey spoke to AFP last month.

The Guardian dubbed it “beautifully acted, lovingly shot, fervently imagined and speculated”.

Variety praised Mackey’s “psychologically vivacious Emily”, although it noted that “Bronte purists may quibble with the futzing of the timeline”.

Mackey, who has a reduced role in the upcoming fourth season of Netflix’s raunchy teen comedy series “Sex Education” and is busy with more big-screen projects, agreed that “people are probably going to be very into it.” mad at this movie” because they “care so much about” Bronte.

But the chance to work with female directors like O’Connor — and Greta Gerwig in the upcoming “Barbie,” starring Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie — has been “so exciting,” she said.

“Seeing how they interact with people on set, how sets feel when they’re led by women is really interesting – there’s this whole new energy that’s happening.”

Although she doesn’t consider Emily Bronte – who writes under a male pseudonym – to be a feminist per se, Mackey sees the film as “a thank you for the impact she had on people, women and readers. around the world, even today.”

“There’s something fascinating about a recluse and someone who is shrouded in mystery,” Mackey said.

“It’s like having a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign on your door. You want to come in and you want to see what’s behind the door.”