Time was when a woman heading towards her 50s was regarded as being perilously close to ‘past it’ but thank goodness those days have gone. Silent Witness actress Emilia Fox is the living embodiment of this. At 47, she’s very much in her prime, loving all aspects of life and has only positive things to say about getting older.
Emilia Fox on ageing
“I genuinely am feeling and finding such joy in life as I get older,” she tells us.
“I feel like I’ve got to know myself a bit better, to know what I want in life and what my priorities are. When I was in my 20s, work dominated my life and while that was fantastic at the time, I knew that I wanted children at some point. I had my daughter Rose, who’s now 11, when I was in my mid 30s and then, of course, everything changed priorities wise and it was all about juggling. Now I’m in my mid-40s and, while I’d never be presumptuous enough to tempt fate by saying that my ‘boxes are ticked’, I am in a good place at the moment. My life feels richer because I’ve lived more and experienced more, and hopefully the more I experience, the richer it will become!”
Emilia on finding love
Emilia is also thoroughly enjoying being in love again. Having married and divorced actor Jared Harris, and then meeting and splitting up with Rose’s father, film-maker Jeremy Gilley, when she was in her 30s, she recently went public on her new relationship with Netflix producer, Jonathan Stadlen.
“Oh, finding love in my 40s has been wonderful,” she says. “I am very happy. While it is a risk in that you have to be honest with each other, prepared to leave the past in the past and look forward to building a future together, it is a truly joyous thing.”
Emilia Fox in Silent Witness
As we speak, Emilia is on set, filming the 26th series of Silent Witness. It is her 17th year playing pathologist Dr Nikki Alexander in the BBC One crime drama. Before shooting started, she spent three months in Italy making Signora Volpe, a crime drama about a disillusioned spy-turned-detective who starts a new life in the beautiful heart of Italy only to find that trouble follows her wherever she goes.
“The scripts are so good and they create such a wonderful world. My character Signora Volpe – which actually means Mrs Fox in English – is a former MI6 spy now living in glorious Italy and the country itself becomes something of a character in the show. It was heaven getting to film in such a beautiful location.”
Initially there are three episodes of Signora Volpe available to stream on Acorn TV but Emilia is hopeful there will be more. If there are, will she find the time to make them when she’s so busy with Silent Witness?
“It will certainly be very hectic,” she laughs.
“For me, it feels like such a privilege to be given another strong female role to play. There are so many more meaty roles for actresses of my age and older than there used to be. TV and film bosses are realising that viewers want to watch dramas about older characters. I'm not saying that younger characters are less interesting but more mature ones are far richer in experience and in knowledge of life. And that goes for the actors who play them, too.”
She wishes she been a bit naughtier when she was a teenager.
“I was very protected and so very shy and well-behaved. When other girls were breaking rules and becoming interested in boys, I was at home playing my cello. I wish I’d been a bit more rebellious in retrospect. Aged 11, my daughter is on the cusp of her teenage years and it will be interesting to see what she’s like.”
Emilia Fox's famous family
Emilia is a member of the distinguished Fox acting dynasty. Her father is Edward Fox, her uncle James Fox, her younger brother Freddie starred in ITV’s White House Farm and her cousin Laurence in Morse spin-off, Lewis. Then there’s her mother, actress Joanna David, well known for playing elegant and even demure characters in costume dramas such as War & Peace and Rebecca. Recently Emilia and Joanna have appeared together on Celebrity Googlebox, and Joanna has shown herself to be far from demure!
“Mum is very polite in real life and people think she’s quite the innocent, too, but she’s really not!” Emilia explains. “She has the foulest mouth out of all of us! We had such fun making those Googlebox episodes and it was so lovely spending time with her – especially as we’d been separated by Covid. Mum and Dad don’t watch TV – they don’t actually have one at their home in Dorset – so it was very funny seeing her reaction to things.”
Emilia's special relationship with her mum
Emilia says she and her mum have always been extremely close. “She’s kind and funny and wise. She is one of the first people I go to for advice – the first person I ask about child-related stuff. I think you have a different relationship with your mum once you become a mother yourself. She’s the best template to have. She’s the most loving mother you could ask for yet she’s also created a strong independence and work ethic in us. She’s got a great sense of humour, is very grounded and someone that I absolutely look up to with regards to values in life. She’s experienced a lot in her life and always gives great advice. I only hope I’m as good a mum to my daughter.”
Signora Volpe is available to stream on Acorn TV