By Claire Bueno
Based on the beloved book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens enchanted readers and audiences alike. Starring David Tennant as the devilish Crowley and Michael Sheen as angelic Aziraphale they make unlikely best friends, now exiled from their respective heaven and hell they have cemented themselves firmly on planet earth. The show is so beautifully written, brimming with charm, humour, irony and carefully crafted characters. Once such character is Maggie, played by Maggie Service, no coincidence, Maggie made such an impression Neil Gaiman wrote the part for her, what a compliment! After my interview with Maggie, I can see why; open, genuine, and sincere Maggie Service has those very human qualities that are easy to inspire.
It all starts with the story and the writing is fabulous, it must be such a thrill for you as an actor to be a part of this project?
Absolutely. It was a beloved book for nearly three decades before we made a screen adaptation. It felt like Neil Gaiman wrote Season One as a love letter for his dearly departed friend and co-writer Terry Pratchett. I always thought it would be a standalone piece as we told the whole story of the book, including Armageddon, but Neil’s imagination is unstoppable and it’s such a joy to have an opportunity to keep telling stories within the marvellous Good Omens Universe.
There’s a sweetness, naiveté and a modesty about Maggie that we can all endear to, tell us a little more about her and what connects you to her?
Oh, that’s a lovely thing to say, thank you, I’m really glad that she comes across that way. She’s completely pure in her emotions and absolutely knows what she wants, even if she’s somewhat unsure in how to get it. I love the journey she gets to go on through the series, it was a gorgeous character arc to play. There are definitely parts of her a relate to strongly and others I’m quite in awe of. I reckon me and the other Maggie would be pals in real life though.
This part has been developed and written for you specifically, this must be hugely flattering and rewarding?
It is the most beautiful gift. Neil got in touch with me to tell me his idea in the middle of lockdown and the fact that he could imagine a world in which we able to make shows again was wonderful in itself, but to actually get to go on and make it was extraordinary. It’s rare to have a chance to explore two such different characters over two seasons within one show, particularly when one is a facial-haired satanic nun, and one is a lipstick wearing vinyl expert. As an actor that’s such a treat.
What’s great about your character is it’s through her we are presented with real world problems that helps grounds the story and the ethereal characters doesn’t it?
What an insightful theme to notice. Yes, I think the way she gets to weave in and out of the mystery and misdirection of the plot whilst still living her day to day life means that when she ends up entangled and involved in some epic adventures the audience are right there with her.
For all the otherworldly, fantasy elements to the show, it’s the human qualities that we can all connect to as an audience, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s written with such care and at the heart of every human, demon or angel is a being who has strengths and insecurities. Our fantastical set pieces are always character driven and I love that about the show. It means you can be really bold because it’s always so deeply rooted.
I love the concept of good and bad, black and white, but the subtext of the show is much more nuanced that that isn’t it?
I think what carries through both seasons is the question of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. If a supposedly good person does something seen as bad or a supposedly bad person does something seen as good does that mean they have changed as a person. Is it just our perception of the situation that changed? Or is it an even more intricate a question than that? I find it fascinating and it’s a question which can be endlessly mined.
Costume helps elevate our understanding about a character so much more and Maggie is very much a retro chic, isn’t she? I wondered if you were able to collaborate with the costume department with this?
I adore her costumes, what’s hilarious is that after I finished in my very unglamorous role in season one (although other than the fake facial hair falling into my soup at lunchtime I actually loved it) I’d jokingly said, “I’d better be Marilyn Monroe the next time we work together!” And when the brilliant costume designer Kate Carin sent me the mood board, full of inspirational looks for Maggie, there was Marilyn Monroe right in the centre. You really do get what you wish for sometimes! Our costume fittings were great fun and I love the 50s as an era for fashion personally, so I was really happy to collaborate on a few of the looks. Most of Maggie’s clothes came from a designer who I own lots of pieces of called Vivian of Holloway. They specialise in 1940s and 50s designs but in new fabrics, so Kate and I were absolutely on the same page from the first meeting.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of Good Omens for you?
To have literally been reincarnated into a whole new entity by Neil Gaiman, because he’s magic and created the Universe in the first place, is pretty cool. I know how much the story and characters have been taken into the hearts and souls of people and that’s a huge privilege to be a part of.
GOOD OMENS, SEASON 2
Launching Globally on July 28th on Amazon Prime
Please note this interview was conducted prior to the SAG strike.
Photographer: The Other Richard | Hair and Make Up: Rebecca Richards |
Styling: Arabella Boyce | Production Stills:
Good Omens, Season 2 - Trailer