I played Jude Law’s daughter in The Holiday, and this is what it was actually like
Miffy Englefield told The Tab: ‘If I’m in a pub, someone will find a napkin and be Mr Napkin Head’
When you were six years old, you probably spent all day on your Tamagotchi, swapping your crisps from your packed lunch with your mates at lunch, and thinking about how Troy from High School Musical would never be your boyfriend. But when Miffy Englefield was six years old, she was acting alongside Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and the actual Jude Law (no biggie x), in classic Christmas film The Holiday.
Miffy, who’s now 22, a musician and a mother to her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, played Sophie in The Holiday – Jude Law’s character’s oldest daughter. Speaking to The Tab, she said she hasn’t watched the film for a couple of years, and she has to get “very drunk” to watch it. “No one likes to watch themselves as a kid, it’s like going through an old photo album your mum whips out when your boyfriend comes over.”
She told The Tab about her experiences of the film, including the pressure she felt put under afterwards and how “bizarre” it was to deal with. Miffy revealed her favourite scene to film, what Jude Law and everyone else were like on set – and how she still gets people doing Mr Napkin Head at her, 15 years later:
‘Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are incredible and ethereal’
Obviously, the question on everybody’s lips is what the big Hollywood names in the film are like in real life. The first scene they filmed of The Holiday was actually the one right at the end, where all four adults and the two kids are dancing around Jude Law’s living room – so Miffy’s first experience on set was meeting everyone all at once.
“They were just incredibly lovely”, Miffy says. “Now I think about it – six year olds are annoying, that’s a given. But they made so much time for us and they were so helpful and so patient.”
Miffy wasn’t really aware of who any of the famous actors were before filming – except for Jack Black, because of School of Rock and her dad being a fan of Tenacious D. “I remember rushing over to him like ‘oh my god you’re Jack Black’, and he was so lovely. He sat down and chatted with me about god knows what, anything to keep a six-year-old entertained.
“Jude [Law] was so sweet as well, he’d pop his head around the door when we were doing schooling and check in on us, he was just brilliant. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast to work with as a child.”
Miffy calls Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz “incredible” and “ethereal”. “Kate Winslet is just the most powerful, gorgeous human ever. She’s so well spoken, just the way she talks, it’s almost like a storybook character. She’s amazing. She’s so great.” Miffy remembers Kate Winslet carrying her younger brother around at the premier, kissing him. “It was like a massive thing. She was so sweet.”
A classic line of the film is when Sophie and her sister Olivia tell Cameron Diaz’s character “you look just like my Barbie” – “and that’s honestly that’s what she’s like”, Miffy says. “Even at five in the morning when she was getting her makeup done and stuff. She was just beautiful, so lovely and sweet.”
Miffy unfortunately isn’t in touch with anyone from The Holiday any more, although she says that when filming wrapped, Nancy Meyers (The Holiday’s writer, producer and director) gave Miffy her personal email and the two emailed back and forth for about seven years.
‘I looked over and Jude Law had just dozed off’
Even though Miffy doesn’t really watch the film and doesn’t have a favourite scene to watch, she had a favourite scene to film – the tent scene.
She calls the scene “iconic” and says she has really fond memories of the scene. They had to film for a long time over a few days to get all the different shots, lying down in the tent under hot lights and blankets. “Jude and Cameron had a really late night [shooting] the night before. We were going through the dialogue, doing a take and it was great. Then it gets to my line and I know Jude is supposed to speak next, but he just says nothing.
“So I say my line again, still nothing, and we look over and they’d both just dozed off and fallen asleep while we were filming. It’s one of my favourite memories.”
Miffy’s scenes are mainly with Jude Law and Cameron Diaz, set in Surrey – but she actually filmed for The Holiday in America as well as England. “A lot of what we filmed was cut”, Miffy says. “We filmed basically a whole separate film, I think in total with all the clips kept in it was something like three hours long, so they had to cut so much.”
She said: “We filmed over the course of about six months. We went twice over to America and we filmed in Shere in Surrey as well. It was very weird, one time we were filming in a cold, English county and the other we’re in Universal Studios in Hollywood, in the middle of summer in full winter gear.”
All of The Holiday’s English scenes are full of snow – but anyone who knows anything about this country knows it hardly ever even snows here. “We had to cover this whole little town in fake snow – it got everywhere as well, it’s so sticky. It was very surreal, very odd.”
Continuing, Miffy says: “We filmed so much in this boiling hot studio and had to pretend it was December and Christmas and not 30 degrees.”
‘It was very bizarre and it was quite a shock to the system’
Miffy says filming The Holiday was amazing – but a bit of the shock. “We’d never really experienced anything like that. It was quite a quick turnaround, a couple of years before that we were in B&Bs as a family, my dad was a single dad and we didn’t have anywhere to live and then a couple years later, we were being flown off to America to film a Hollywood film.
“It was very, very bizarre and it was quite a shock to the system, really to sort of deal with it. It was incredible and fantastic and they got to experience so many things that we never would have in any other situation. We got to do so much lovely stuff.”
Continuing, she says: “It was quite surreal when me and my dad had to fly back to England, to go back and live in our once-council house. We’d gone from this area of status, we were something on set, and then we had to fly back home to my shitty little town in Andover. It was very surreal.” She remembers looking at her dad and the both of them crying when they left.
Miffy did five auditions for the role “over quite a long time”. She says “thousands” of girls went to the first round of auditions. At the time they weren’t given any information about the film – Miffy says they didn’t even know its title. “It was very under wraps and we didn’t know anything about it.”
In the final round she met Nancy Meyers. “It was lovely”, she says. “It was a really great audition experience, but it was the most auditions I’ve ever done for a role.” Miffy was an actress until the age of 11, and was also in a couple of TV shows (including Casualty) and a short film.
“From the sort of background I’m from and the place I live in, it’s not common for people to do acting. I come from more of a poor background, I come from homelessness, a lot of the people I’ve acted with over the years have come from more affluent backgrounds. So in the town I was in, it wasn’t common at all.”
‘It was very weird for a seven-year-old to be dealing with that sort of pressure’
Miffy says many of the adults around her and at school made a big deal out of her being in the film, rather than her peers, which she felt like put pressure on her. “It was more the adults who were making a big deal out of it, and they’d sort of parade it around. At school I was called up in front of people and at first everyone was really nice, but I think being pushed the way it was made people really not like me in the end, which is horrible but it is what it is.
“It was very weird for a seven-year-old to be dealing with that sort of stuff and sort of pressure from the adults around them. It was a difficult time in the early years of school for me.
“I was horrendously bullied in primary school”, Miffy says, “to the point where I was actually taken out.” She managed to get a full bursary to pay for her to move a local private school. But she doesn’t “hold any resentment about it”, she says: “Kids are kids, kids are jealous, at different ages we’ve all felt jealousy towards other kids”.
Miffy doesn’t really get recognised now – which she puts down to growing up, getting tattoos and dressing differently. “Usually if I’m in a pub and it comes up, one of my friends has been like, ‘oh she’s in The Holiday’ just to wind me up. Someone will find a napkin and be Mr Napkin Head, very loudly and very obviously.”
She says: “That’s been going on now for about four years, especially during December, it’s like the calling of The Holiday. Or people like to say ‘berry kiss’, which is what I say to Cameron Diaz, to me a lot too.”
The Holiday is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.
Related stories recommended by this writer:
Featured image via Netflix/Instagram @miffz_