Sanditon Season 3 premiered on Masterpiece on PBS last night, reuniting fans with Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) and her best friend Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke). Over the last three seasons of Sanditon, we’ve seen Miss Lambe mature from rebellious orphaned heiress to an impassioned abolitionist and now, at last, a sophisticated young woman in control of her own destiny. Sanditon Season 3 opens with Georgiana’s 21st birthday, an occasion that is supposed to mark the moment she takes over her fortune. But her triumphant night is soon marred by the arrival of her former lover (and prime predator) Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos).
In Sanditon Season 2, Lockhart seduced Georgiana in an effort to steal her fortune. Since that plan didn’t work out, he’s returned to Sanditon to serve Miss Lambe a lawsuit. He’s going to try to take her inheritance in court. What follows is a season of legal drama and personal woes that will force Georgiana to reckon with the role slavery played in her current position.
All of Sanditon Season 3 is now streaming on PBS Passport so some fans might already know what Georgiana goes through. Decider caught up with Sanditon star Crystal Clarke after screening the first five episodes of the show’s final season. What followed was a candid conversation about Georgiana’s journey in Season 3, Clarke’s favorite memories of working on the series, and how much the actress personally overcame to portray Miss Lambe at her happiest.
Spoilers for the first five episodes of Sanditon Season 3, which are now streaming on PBS Passport.
DECIDER: So first of all, Lockhart shows up in Episode 1 to ruin Georgiana’s beautiful party. How violating is it for that to happen for Georgiana at that moment when she’s attaining her freedom?
CRYSTAL CLARKE: Having her moment and everything, the expectation is this is her time and she’s gonna step into this money, finally have her freedom. And after all the bickering with Sidney, the other Parkers, everybody… the feeling like she’s not in control of her life, it’s devastating. It’s totally devastating and it completely blindsides her. As I was in the scene, I was kind of like there’s gotta be a part of her that’s like, “He’s joking right?” Like this is just bullshit and it will blow over. Because it feels like so, so bad that it can’t possibly be true.
And then she has to go to trial, prepare with Samuel for the terrible things that might be said. Can you just talk me through what it was like for you to just really confront those awful moments for your character?
It would sound weird if I say, “It was awesome,” but it was nice. I felt really good about being able to go those places with Georgiana. The nuance of her mother being a slave and her father being a plantation owner, and her being the recipient of this fortune, and this fortune coming from slavery essentially is just like something that I never… I really wanted us to delve deeper into it and I’m glad that we went into it. I feel like we didn’t shy away from stating that as a question. It’s a whole other conversation and there’s a lot of unpack there, so it felt so good to be able to have that as part of the scene.
So the scene with Samuel and Georgiana when he’s going over the questions with her, that was such a wonderful — Liam [Garrity] is amazing — that was like such a wonderful scene. Because with those questions we’re getting to the nuance of the character and what people are actually thinking when they’re staring at her.
Shifting gears, Georgiana does meet her mom this season. As soon as that actress came on screen, I was like, “That’s Georgiana’s mom!” Because she has this poise and this elegance that your character has, and you guys just seem to mirror each other so beautifully. What was it like for your character to finally meet her mother? Talk me through how first she rejects the notion, but then accepts it, and what it was like working with that actress because she, I thought, was spectacular.
Oh, she was amazing. It’s interesting because her reaction is — I mean, people’s reactions in real life are never what you expect them to be. So, like, she meets her mom for the first time. Obviously, she’s gonna be excited? No. Like she’s been traumatized over and over and over again. She doesn’t know who to trust. Why would she run into the arms of someone who’s essentially a stranger to her? And so she’s in shock really. And there’s got to be a grief there about time lost if it’s true, and questions about why weren’t you there for me? Why have I just been kind of thrown to the wolves on my own? So she puts her mom through the tests.
And she passes.
Georgiana and the Duke enter a faux-mance, and unlike other shows where a faux-mance leads to a real romance, this felt really honest and realistic for the time period. Do you think that could have worked long term? I haven’t seen the last episode, I don’t know what happens, but do you think there’s some sense or something logical about having a kind of marriage of convenience between a closeted gay man and a wealthy woman?
I mean they happened. It definitely happened. So I think it could. I don’t know if [it could work] with Georgiana specifically. I don’t know if it would last that long because this was her way of being like, “Oh, I have to deal with this situation somehow and this is how I’ll deal with it.” But how long would she really be able to put up with lying or put up with being a part of something that’s fake? Like I don’t think she has it in her soul to continue doing that, to lie to herself for the rest of her life.
That makes sense.
But is it possible to do? Yeah, people do it all the time.
Georgiana has always had the best gowns and parties, but this season it really felt like you were in your diva mode. What was it like playing Georgiana this season in terms of all the parties that she has for herself ? What was it like filming all those amazing entrances? Did you have a favorite gown? Take me through the glamorous, girly part of it.
My favorite outfit was actually that massive coat that I wore on the beach when I went to speak to my mom sitting on the boat. It was a nightmare to walk around in and Costume was freaking out because I was on a beach dragging this velvet thing. But it couldn’t drag because then there would just be sand all over it. So it was just a nightmare for continuity. But it was so fabulous. I felt like Miranda Priestly, it was so ridiculous. That one was definitely my favorite, and it was warm, too, so that’s always a plus.
Um, it’s interesting because actually, the diva mode, and the feeling that this is the happiest we’ve seen Georgiana…but it was actually, really, the shoot, me doing those scenes, a lot of the time I was like crying in between takes. I mean, yeah, I struggle with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or I did. I’m medicated now. But I struggled with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which I’ve been very vocal about.
I have it, too.
Yeah. And as you get older, it gets worse and it was a new thing for me to learn how to deal with. I wasn’t on any type of medication or anything like that, and I was learning what are my needs in this situation and at the same time playing this character. I felt really supported by the crew and by production. Production made sure they got some accessibility things in line for me. But it was still really interesting because while I was playing Georgiana at her happiest, I was literally having panic attacks or like dissociating between takes. So, um, it’s interesting. I mean, I’m very proud of it.
I had no idea. Also, like I said, I have the same illness. I have it under control now, but there were years where I was like, “Oh, the werewolf in me is coming out and I don’t have control of my emotions and—“
And there’s nothing I can do and this is just the way we’re going. But the strength that that took for me to be able to do all of that at the same time, to be honest, only added to the freedom I felt playing Georgiana. Because I felt like, more confident, and more authentic and in myself. Like if you’re not avoiding your shit and you’re accepting it and dealing with it the best you can, I just feel like that’s the point at which the best version of yourself begins to come out. And I felt that way while I was playing Georgiana in the third season.
Amen, yeah. So how do you feel about Georgiana’s journey where it wraps up? Do you still feel good with where her story ends?
Yes, yes. I’m very, very pleased. I love the journey. And it’s not just where it ends, I love the journey we took to get there. We asked some heavy questions, and built some wonderful relationships around her, and, yeah, I’m really happy with it.
Awesome. What’s your favorite memory of working on the show over the course of all three seasons?
I mean, honestly the last night was amazing. The last scene we filmed, we were out on the promenade, all of us outside watching the fireworks. And somebody opened a bottle of champagne. I just remember being huddled with Kate [Ashton] and Turlough [Convery] and Lauren from Costume, and like all the costume girls — they were amazing —and Hair and Makeup and stuff. We were all just around and it was partially a party and it was really sweet. We had been through it. It was a tough shoot, and we’d been through it and we were all just celebrating and happy on that last day, and really proud of what we had accomplished. And that’s a great memory. That’s a great way to wrap.
Before I go and let you go, I did mention on Twitter that I might be talking to you and there were a couple good questions from the fans I thought would be fun to ask. One was who was your favorite suitor to work with?
Well, Jyuddah [Jaymes] obviously. Jyuddah. I was like, “How many were there?” And then I was like, well obviously Jyuddah. It was Jyuddah, Jyuddah was the best
And if Georgiana was free of the constraints of society, what would she want to do with her life? What would be her dream for herself?
If nothing else was a factor — societal bullshit wasn’t a factor? That’s such a good question. That’s very good because so much of it revolves around her dealing with her being a woman of color in this time period and so on and so on. And it’s like without that, what does define her? It’s a very good question and I think I can’t 100% tell you. And I’m not sure she could either, because if you don’t have the space and the freedom to explore those things. Her exploration is stunted at what is holding her back.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
New episodes of Sanditon premiere on Masterpiece on PBS at 9 PM ET on Sundays.
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