Rising British star Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Kya, the ill-fated “marsh girl” in Columbia Pictures’ $100-million-grossing box-office hit Where the Crawdads Sing.
At the center of Where the Crawdads Sing is Kya Clark – “the marsh girl” – about whom little is known and much is assumed. When Chase Andrews, once the town’s star quarterback and now heir apparent to a successful auto shop, is found dead in the marsh, most of the townspeople are quick to blame Kya. As local defense attorney Tom Milton tries to save Kya’s life, Kya slowly reveals her mysteries – abandoned by her family and left to make a life for herself in the marsh… the two loves that shaped her past… and the lengths that creatures of nature will go to survive.
“The main thing I love about Kya is how resilient she is,” says Daisy Edgar-Jones. “Her relationship with Chase ends on bad terms. When Chase is found dead in the marsh, Kya goes on trial for his murder. All eyes are on her during the trial, yet she continues to show incredible resilience and strength, and maintains her quiet curiosity and connection with the natural world.”
“Kya says there’s no dark side to nature, just inventive ways to endure,” adds Edgar-Jones. “For Kya, having suffered so much abuse from her family and people leaving her, the one thing that always stuck was nature. It always there for her and I think it became her family.”
“Daisy Edgar-Jones is a once-in-a-lifetime talent,” says producer Reese Witherspoon. “She can morph herself into so many different characters. You feel her vulnerability and her ferocity in this performance. Daisy and [director] Olivia Newman worked together to create a performance that sometimes is very, very small and internal, and other times is rage-filled and ferocious. There’s no artifice, there’s no lying, she just becomes the character. And I have to say, I’m pretty tough on Southern accents, and Daisy just fell into it so beautifully, with a real respect for the language and the way that Delia wrote.”
To prepare for the role, Edgar-Jones – a Londoner by birth – would have to remake herself into Kya Clark: her physical strength, her experience boating in the marsh, her talent for drawing and painting, and, of course, her Carolina accent.
“I read the book over and over and over,” Edgar-Jones says. “When I got the script, I went through every scene I had, and I wrote out the key parts of the chapter next to the script page, which was really helpful. I learned a lot about boating and the marsh – the wildlife and the landscape.”
Edgar-Jones worked with dialect coach Francie Brown to hide her London accent and to speak like a mid-century American woman living on the North Carolina coast. “I love working in accents, because acting in my own voice makes me very self-conscious,” says Edgar-Jones. “Because I play Kya as she ages over several years, it was important to express the subtleties of Kya’s voice as she ages from a higher register at 15 to 20 to 23. That was a real access point for me because there’s a kind of special softness to Kya’s voice that’s different from mine, which was also a really good way to separate myself from the character.”