Miriam Margolyes has opened up about sexuality, body image and national “inequity” in a wide-ranging interview as one of three cover stars of British Vogue‘s July issue.
The actor and LGBT+ icon made his first ever appearance on the cover of the legendary fashion magazine at the age of 82, as part of its Pride Month celebrations. The interview, conducted by journalist Chris Godfrey, was accompanied by a photoshoot that shows Margolyes posing topless with her breasts obscured by Belgian buns.
To mark Pride month, British Vogue are representing a range of LGBT+ stories, including those of pop star Janelle Monae, The Last Of Us actors Bella Ramsey and Rina Sawayama. The covers were revealed exclusively in The Independentsthe official news partner of Pride in London.
In the interview, Margolyes, who is known for her roles in 1993 film The Age of Innocence and as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter franchise, said that she “never had any shame about being gay” and “wouldn’t want to be straight for anything”.
Speaking of her body image, Margolyes admits that she has struggled with insecurities, but is determined to embrace her form regardless.
“I think my face is kind and warm and open and smiley,” she said. “But I hate my body. I hate big t**s [and I have] a drooping belly, little twisted legs. I’m not thrilled with that. But you just make the best of it. You have to. You do the best you can.”
She commented: “It’s a strong position if you’re not afraid to be who you are.
“We’re all so insecure. People are terrified of such a lot of the time and what I’ve always tried to do … (is) make people feel good about themselves.”
Margolyes came out as a lesbian in 1966, when homoesexuality was still illegal in the UK. she told British Vogue that she had always felt proud of her identity: “I’ve never had any shame about being gay or anything really. I knew it wasn’t criminal because it was me. I couldn’t be criminal.”
She continued: “I think gay people are very lucky, because we are not conventional, we are a group slightly apart. It gives us an edge. We’re good artists, we’re good musicians. And I like being gay. I wouldn’t want to be straight for anything.”
Margolyes has been with her partner, Australian historian Heather Sutherland, for 54 years.
In most ways, it is easier to live as a queer person now than it was half a century ago, the interviewer suggested. But many LGBT+ people have expressed concern in recent years that the UK is starting to regress when it comes to LGBT+ rights.
“It’s not so much the gay part of things. I’m worried about all of it,” Margolyes responded.
“I just think England has become as ***-hole. And the government is at the heart of the s***. There’s been a moral slide in England into the deep pit of iniquity.”
Asked whether the situation in the country could improve in the foreseeable future, Margolyes made reference to the Tories’ hugely divisive anti-immigration policies.
“I don’t have a lot of hope at the moment,” she said. “I cannot believe that people are genuine in approval of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. Something’s happened to ordinary decent people that they can think that that is a legitimate solution.”
Announced by former prime minister Boris Johnson and former home secretary Priti Patel in April 2022, the policy sees people seeking asylum in the UK being deported to Rwanda for processing and resettlement. In May, The Independents revealed that home secretary Suella Braverman was facing fresh allegations of ministerial code breaches over her failure to formally disclose years of previous work with the Rwandan government.
Elsewhere in the interview, Margolyes added that she had “sort of flirted” with the idea of entering politics herself. “But I’m too much of a loose cannon,” she added.
See the full feature in the July issue of British Vogueavailable via digital download and on newsstands from Tuesday 20 June.
Margolyes became known to an entirely new generation of fans when she was cast in the role of Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film franchise, beginning with the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Her other roles include the 1981 historical drama Reds1995’s family comedy Babeand Baz Luhrmann’s revisionist Romeo + Juliet (1996). On TV she has appeared in memorable roles in series such as Blackadder and, more recently, Call the Midwife.
Last month, Margolyes revealed that he had been admitted to the hospital for cardiac surgery.
The actor had received Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), a minimally invasive procedure in which a narrow aortic valve was replaced.