Edgar Wright’s latest film Last Night in Soho was released this weekend, arriving in cinemas just in time for Halloween.
The stylish psychological thriller is well worth a watch for many reasons – including its brilliant soundtrack – but perhaps one of its strongest pulls is the chance to see Diana Rigg on the big screen for one last time.
The legendary actress passed away aged 82 in September 2020, with Last Night in Soho having been the final project she filmed – and its wonderful final role for the former The Avengers star.
In an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com, Wright paid tribute to both Rigg and fellow star Margaret Nolan, who also passed away after the film was shot.
“It’s a happy memory in that I got to work with them,” he said. “I would be bereft if I’d never met them, or worked with them, or got to know them as friends. So, you know, you can be sad about it, and you can be sad that they’re gone. Or the better way of thinking about it is: how lucky and fortunate was I to get to know them at all?”
Speaking about Rigg’s role more specifically, he added, “I know in the movie which line is the last line she recorded. Because we recorded some extra dialogue, and there’s a part of it, whenever that comes up, I can’t not think, ‘Oh, that’s the last line that Diana speaks in a movie.’
“You know, it’s difficult to put it into words, other than I just am so proud of… I’m so glad I got to work with her, and I think she’s so amazing in the movie.”
He explained that Rigg’s daughter Rachael Stirling had recently had the chance to watch the movie, and said she was really moved by it – in some ways that he might not have been able to predict.
“It was interesting, the thing she said that set her off crying was a close-up of Diana’s hands putting down a cup of tea. She said afterwards, ‘I wasn’t ready to see Mum’s hands on the big screen again.’ She goes, ‘I missed her hands.’
“It was interesting to me. In a weird way, it’s those little things….It’s poignant in more ways than I can list, you know?”
Meanwhile, Wright’s co-worker on the project, Krysty Wilson-Cairns, added that it meant a lot to her to have worked with Rigg since she “holds such a special place in my heart.”
“I wasn’t around when The Avengers first went on TV, but I used to be around for the reruns on like BBC Three at like half past seven at night,” she said. “And it was like, one of the first things I was obsessed with as a child. And what I was obsessed with was seeing a strong female superhero. [It was the] first time I’d ever seen that in my whole life.
“And so I was a lifelong fan of Emma Peel (Rigg’s character on The Avengers), and I used to go as her for Halloween lots. And that was really weird because it was like, the ’90s and early ‘oos and people were like who are you? So I had spent my life you know, really watching and admiring her and admiring her stage career as well. And to then get to meet her was, I mean, really something – I don’t really get that starstruck, but that was hard.”
Wilson-Cairns added that she very vividly remembers sitting in on one of the first read-throughs of the script and being blown away by seeing Rigg’s performance up close
“There’s a chunk of dialogue that she says, and you really want to get that right, because the movie hinges on it. And I remember sitting there with my writer brain on, really trained and really listening, and about three lines in I forgot I was working, I was just transported.
“And I wasn’t transported because Diana Rigg was acting, I was transported because Mrs. Collins (her character) was suddenly alive in this room in front of me. And it was such an awe-inspiring experience.”
She added that it had been an emotional time for the cast and crew to several screenings and premieres, but similarly to Wright she’s trying to focus on the positives.
“For Diana is the very first thing on screen, and I think every moment that you see that and see her on screen, you’re reminded of what an extraordinary human that you were in the presence of, and that you now aren’t and it’s really sad.
“But also, I think we all really celebrate the chance that we got to see her and to work with her, to befriend her and to know her, and I think that’s the only way that you can really look at this and not want to cry.”
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Last Night in Soho is out now in UK cinemas. Looking for something to watch tonight? Check out our TV Guide or visit our Movies hub for all the latest news and features.