Ophelia Lovibond laughed at the incongruities of her life. Rather than go to drama school, the British actress chose instead to read the classics for three years at university, and cites James Joyce as a favorite. “It’s definitely something that stood me in good stead for my career,” she said. “I get scripts, and think, ‘There’s not enough here to get my teeth stuck into.’ That’s a result of studying English, where you luxuriate in these big, lush novels.”
The offers for Shakespearean roles weren’t rolling in, so she indulged her more daring side.
Lovibond starred in the Sky Vision production of “Hooten & the Lady” as Lady Alexandra, a British historical expert, who often ends up in perilous situations alongside the swashbuckling adventurer and treasure hunter, Hooten. It was acquired this month by the CW and will air in July.
“I realized I have an appetite for stunts,” said Lovibond, who is 31. “I learned how to do them myself. It was exciting. The atmosphere of the series is high action and cutthroat. Once, they rigged up to a rope-and-pulley system in a chapel in Italy that we were supposed to fall into. I was strapped to a helicopter. I did all sorts of things that would make my mom’s toes crawl.”
The role of Meg Drinnen, the outspoken wife of turn-of-the-century golf legend young Tommy Morris, seemed tame by comparison. But it didn’t call out to Lovibond the first time she read the script for “Tommy’s Honour.”
“Honestly, it’s not a part I was interested in initially,” said Lovibond, by phone from the U.K. “It wasn’t like the script arrived at my door and I said, ‘Oh yes, golf!’”
The Roadside Attractions release, which opens Friday, tells the true story of old Tommy Morris and his son, young Tommy, who were considered golf royalty in the mid-1800s in Scotland.
“Meg wasn’t subservient, which was quite unusual,” Lovibond said. “She wouldn’t do what men told her to do. It was brilliant — in the original Parish notes written by the local Vicar, there’s one about her being very strong-willed.”
The relationship between father and son became fraught as young Tommy matched his father’s success, then surpassed it. He’s credited for establishing in 1860 the British Open.
When young Tommy falls in love with, and subsequently marries Drinnen, his mother refuses to welcome her into the family because she has a past.
“She’s honest,” Lovibond said on the character. “She tells her mother-in-law, ‘Yes, I had a son out of wedlock and that son died.’ She says, ‘You can’t bully me.’ Their relationship changed after that.”
“Tommy’s Honour,” which was directed by Jason Connery, son of actor Sean, celebrates Drinnen’s independence. “One thing that appealed about the script was that young Tommy and Meg’s relationship was very much a partnership,” Lovibond said. “He loved her and respected her opinion and sought her guidance. It was her idea that he should be paid for golf. She was quite a lot older than him.”
Lovibond hopes the film will attract a diverse audience. “It will be an interesting movie for golf fans, she said. “It addresses the history of the game, which is very entrenched in Scottish culture. If you’re not interested in golf, it’s a great love story.”
In the summer, Lovibond plans to direct “The Stepmother,” a “forgotten play from the Twenties by Githa Sowerby. It’s about manipulation and how this woman gets her way.”
The actress tackled the stage herself in 2015 playing Lucy Prebble in “The Effect,” a play about falling in love under the influence of antidepressants. She also had a recurring role as Kitty Miller, a Sherlock Holmes protege in the TV series “Elementary.”
Lovibond, who started acting at age 12, said her family gives her just the right amount of support. “They’ve always kept my feet on the ground,” she said. “It’s the best way to be. They’re not too involved and they’re not uninvolved.”