What does Monty see in Mildred when he meets her in the diner and asks her to come with him to the beach?
There are a number of things he's attracted to. Firstly from a typical male point of view, he sees a very attractive and lively woman. Also, even though he's brought up in the upper echelons of class he probably likes to break those boundaries. (Later on we discover maybe that's not really the case when his hidden prejudices eventually come to the surface.) But he's a charmer – I wouldn't say he's a cad – but he's a well groomed and relaxed kind of guy, so he's fairly fortunate with the ladies. He probably throws that out whenever he can: "Hey, jump in the car and come to the beach with me." And every other woman might have said, "How dare you!" and turned her back on him. But this one morning, this woman who happens to be at a particular moment in her life says, "You better be careful or I might come with you." And I think he's taken by surprise, but at the same time, joyously relieved that there's someone spontaneous out there like him. She's clearly a smart lady, a very capable and forthright woman. Even in his cheekiness when he launches into his breakfast order and in a playful but condescending way says, "Did you get that?" and she repeats it back perfectly, he thinks, Oh I'm in for a bit of head sport here - this lady's a lot of fun. That's what I think is so beautiful about the writing of the book and the script, these subtle moments that are captured really well. That you can meet someone on the street and have an instant, open and honest connection. It's a delightful moment when they first meet.
Does he know he's in trouble financially when they first meet?
No, I don't think he does. I don't think he accepts it when he is in trouble. I went to a private school and was surrounded by wealthy folk even though we weren't particularly wealthy. But there were people who I could relate to when I was playing Monty. There's a sort of security that's created when you grow up knowing money will never be a problem. And when it does become a problem, I think it's difficult for those people to believe it. It's a bit like trying to convince someone who's believed in God all their life that there is no God. Conversely, people who are brought up with no money, even if they make money later in life, still have a street-wise quality about them that always makes sure they're one step ahead of the game because they don't want to slip back into what they were brought up with. I find it fascinating the way aspects of our lives that we're brought up with can stick with us forever even if things completely change. And I think for Monty, he's generally quite relaxed about "Oh, this old mansion, we can't afford it anymore."
When do you think it does start to eat away at him?
Strangely enough, I think it's her finickiness, her need for practicality. This is what I'm talking about…she is someone who was brought up in more of a working class life so being conscious and conscientious of making sure you've got a job and there's food on the table and the bank account is in order. Doing the "making sure" is something he's never done. It's an irritant for him particularly when she starts to say, "When are you going to work, and when are you going to do this and that?" I wouldn't be surprised if it's her instigation that starts to trigger some of those feelings for him of things not being A-OK. And once she does trigger that too much, he's like, "You know what? Maybe you're not the lady for me."
He has that line in their argument at the end of episode three when he says the fact that she wants to get his money's worth out of him means she's not a lady…
That's right. And I think this is where the script and the book are really great. He sees her as being a bit of a penny pincher. He reluctantly understands why, but I don't think he's interested in bringing himself to that level and having a serious discussion about it. I think he sees it more as something to throw at her in an argument as a weakness or quality that's not particularly admirable: Look at you, you're trying to turn me into your chauffeur. It's demeaning to talk about money; it's demeaning to be so fussy about it. And it's easy for him to say that because he's been brought up at the other end of the sticks. If they had servants and chauffeurs, that's how it was. But for him to be put in that position is really inappropriate. It's very simple in a way, but it's a very complex situation they've got themselves into. Strangely enough, most women of her standing would have said "no" to him in that café, and he might not have ended up having a long-term relationship. But he's softening as well. They're both at points in their lives where things are changing. I just think she's far more aware of herself than he is of himself. He's just out to have a good time and it's taking someone like her to make him look at himself and he doesn't want to. He can in a self-deprecating, charming, let-me-show-you-I'm-taking-a-good-look-at-myself kind of way to lure someone in, but not in the way you might sit there with your therapist.