Emma Mackey, nonconformist in ‘Sex Education’ and in ‘Eiffel’: “Maeve and Adrienne share rebellion and feminism”

We speak with the actress who stars, alongside Romain Duris, in Martin Bourboulon’s new film about the love story behind the construction of the great symbol of Paris.

Naming Emma Mackey provokes an immediate connection. It is an unavoidable link that appears unintentionally: Maeve and Sex Education. The actress is in charge of playing one of the great protagonists of the Netflix series, but a few years ago, something she describes as “a wish and a need”, led him to want to debut in French cinema. And that’s when he met the character of Adrienne Bourgès, the co-star of Eiffel, a film about the romance behind the construction of the great symbol of Paris.

“Things lined up”, Mackey reminds SensaCine. “I was drawn to the love story, Adrienne and the characters. I was fascinated by the historical element and the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower and what it means to everyone.”

Eiffel, directed by Martin Bourboulon, arrives this Friday, 12th of November, to movie theaters. The movie follows Gustave Eiffel -interpreted by Romain Duris-, who after collaborating in the construction of the Statue of Liberty begins the creation of the tower that changed the skyline of the French capital forever. His return to Paris leads him to reconnect with Adrienne, his young love.

Mackey has returned to his roots with Eiffel. Although we are used to hearing her speak in perfect English, the actress was born in Le Mans (France) in 1996. With a French father and English mother, he moved to England to go to university and it was then that the project that changed his life arrived: Sex Education.

It was partly thanks to the popularity that Mackey gained with Netflix fiction, which made her the perfect candidate for Eiffel. But there were more elements to consider. “She was a new actress for French cinema and it was a way to reveal her, just like we do with her character in the film”says Bourboulon.


“The history [de Eiffel] it is extraordinary and, at the same time, there is an extremely intimate and naturalistic tone. I found it very seductive “says Mackey. “The historical part was quite educational. I thought, ‘It’s great if we can teach people something about the Eiffel Tower. It’s like a bonus.’ Although there are real facts in Eiffel, other aspects have been fictionalized.

The film’s director emphasizes that his goal was to bring the love story to the fore and leave the construction of the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. “It gave us many possibilities”says Bourboulon about basing the film loosely on historical events. “The love story actually happened in 1860, and basically what we did was assume that they met again. That’s something we don’t really know.”

Adrienne and Gustave lived an impossible love story that marked the architect. Mackey’s character is from an aristocratic family – something that makes his relationship with the architect difficult – and an independent woman ahead of her time..

As the actress explains:

It was important that Adrienne be able to make decisions for herself even if she is a victim of her circumstances and patriarchy.

Although Adrienne and Maeve belong to different eras, Mackey sees a connection between them “They are not alike at all, but they share rebellion and feminism”.


Adrienne Bourgès is the first historical character Mackey plays, but she won’t be the last. The actress will premiere in the future Emily, the film about the writer of Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë. Mackey shares a cast in this project with Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Fionn Whitehead and Gemma Jones. The feature film marks the directorial debut of actress Frances O’Connor.

Emma Mackey as Emily Brontë and ‘Emily’.

In addition to Brontë, Mackey tells us that he already has another historical character on his hands. “I don’t know if I can tell you about him yet.”, the actress keeps secret. “From the looks of it, I’m very into this of historical figures.”

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