All that matters now is my daughter: Her marriage disintegrated and she was left holding the baby but Emilia Fox is determined to be positive
21:41 GMT, 22 June 2012
Maternal instinct: Emilia says she worries less, works less and enjoys every precious moment with her daughter Rose
A few hours after interviewing Emilia Fox, I receive this text. ‘Only out of great vulnerability do you discover what strength you have. Having a daughter who I love with all my being has helped me mine the source of that strength to previously unknown depths. Rose is the fuel for life and every moment with her is happiness unlike any I’ve known before.’
Clearly, Emilia is besotted with her 18-month-old daughter Rose. She’s found, as so many of us do, a bottom drawer of emotions she hadn’t known existed until her daughter was born.
Ambition shifts. Priorities change. She worries less, works less and enjoys every precious moment with Rose. ‘What’s lovely now is when I wasn’t working before I’d be thinking, “So what am I going to be working on next” Now I’m with Rose, which is just fantastic, so all time off is good. Every moment is so precious.’
Today, Emilia’s hair, which she dyed
red for her role as Lady Portia Alresford in Upstairs Downstairs, is
highlighted blonde again. There’s a glow on her face and flesh on her
bones. In the last series of the BBC1 crime drama Silent Witness, she
looked more done in than the corpses.
was going through a particularly tough time, having separated six
months ago from Rose’s dad, blond peace activist Jeremy Gilley, 43,
after three years together. And, while it wasn’t the sort of
life-and-death stuff her on-screen character, forensic pathologist Dr
Alexander, deals with on a daily basis, everything, as she says, ‘is
split up for a long time now and our main priority is Rose, her welfare
and the love we have for her that’s shared – thank God,’ says Emilia.
‘I want to get it right, whether I’m on my own or if we were together.
It would be amazing to share this as the ideal family, but if it doesn’t
work out there are good things about that as well. You both form a
very, very strong independent close bond with your child and that’s the
Emilia chooses her words carefully. Jeremy was with her at Rose’s birth and has been there for his daughter ever since. He is, she says, a ‘loving and devoted dad’ and she doesn’t want to rock the boat. Today, Emilia looks much like a child herself in a petticoat dress straight from the pages of The Railway Children with legs like saplings that seem to have sprouted overnight. But her enormous eyes, dark and changeable, are a woman’s.
The last time I interviewed her she was newly in love with Jeremy and sparkly as a bottle of fizz. She told me she’d discovered she was ‘more messy and complicated’ than she thought following the end of her three-year marriage to actor Jared Harris, son of hell-raising film legend Richard Harris and star of Mad Men.
Emilia with former partner Jeremy Gilley in 2010
They’d been blissfully happy after
marrying beneath a cloud of rare-breed butterflies in Emilia’s beloved
Dorset in 2005, until she suffered a miscarriage at 31. Emilia tried for
a year to ‘just carry on with life’, but, with each of them pursuing
careers on different sides of the Atlantic, ‘couldn’t see my way through
the unhappiness to get to the happiness again’.
met Jeremy through his charity work and he was a friend before he
became her lover. When she became pregnant with Rose two years ago she
was about as happy as she could be. She truly thought she’d finally
found the sort of happy-ever-after her parents, actors Joanna David and
Edward Fox, share.
I think I was too independent. I didn’t learn to share my life. I’ve always been brought up
to stand on my own two feet and not rely too heavily on everyone else
‘I think I was too independent,’ she says now. ‘I didn’t learn to share my life. I’ve always been brought up to stand on my own two feet and not rely too heavily on everyone else around me. My parents instilled a really good work ethic from when I was little – if you want to have money to spend on holidays, you earn it. So I’ve always been someone who wanted to be able to survive by myself, but I think you have to let down the barriers a little bit – let other people in. But while you can be too independent, if I hadn’t been I probably wouldn’t be able to deal with everything now, and I have to. I’ve had to be in a good state of mind for Rose.’
Emilia’s parents have been a constant strength. They were at her bedside with Jeremy when Rose was born, and help with childcare. Indeed, Edward worries so much about his little granddaughter that he investigated cookery lessons for Emilia, who is a hopeless cook. Which is why we’re here. Emilia is helping Kenwood find the top 12 worst cooks in Britain and hoping to transform them over a six-week period.
Jeremy with baby Rose in 2011
‘I’m the joke of the family with
cooking because I’ve never done it – primarily because I’ve been
surrounded by people who are so good at it,’ says Emilia. ‘Mum’s
brilliant. Boyfriends have always been good at it. I’m waiting for my
inner chef to be released. Once you’re given the confidence to do
something you can blossom with it. It’s the fear of not getting it
right.’ Emilia has always been a
worrier. Her childhood in Dorset was idyllic, but she was only too aware
of how her parents struggled to put her and her younger brother
Freddie, 23, through Bryanston public school. ‘I was a worker bee,’ she
‘I wanted to demonstrate I was grateful to my parents for giving me a great education so it was my way of saying, “I appreciate it.”’ In truth, she’s paid them back in spades with an English degree from Oxford and a prolific acting career that began in 1995 with the role of Georgiana Darcy in a TV adaptation of Pride And Prejudice. Since then she hasn’t stopped. Is she a workaholic Emilia pulls a wry smile, which I take as a yes. And now ‘I think that’s still there, but having a child puts things in a different order. You choose work in a different way. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve done little bits here and there and had lots of time at home during the last series of Silent Witness. It was much more weighted in the boys’ favour so I got to be at home more.’
From the moment she knew she was pregnant Emilia was happy as a lark. ‘Such a big thing was made of the miscarriage and I’ve never wanted that. It’s something that happens to a lot of women. But it made me realise how important children were to me. Having Rose was the best moment in my life. I’ve been brimful of emotion ever since. It’s love like you’ve never known it before. Funnily enough, when I’m with Rose I don’t worry – it all disappears.’
Then she looks at me with those enormous eyes and says, ‘I’m not such a fantasist that I don’t realise life isn’t idyllic but I think you can create romance in your life – create the fun and the joy, even though things haven’t gone right all the time. Rose is the greatest joy of my life. The rose-tinted spectacles are off and, yet, there’s a Rose at the end of it who’s blooming and I adore with all my heart and soul. She’s my life. It makes everything more valuable.’
I think Emilia might have finally found her happy-ever-after. Let’s hope so.
For more information about Kenwood’s Disaster Chef competition, visit www. kenwoodworld.com/uk