She learned a lot from Elba, the former Wire star now slated to play Nelson Mandela. “What I love about Idris is he’s come to the fore relatively late, in his mid-30s, and he’s really using the opportunity to explore the things he’s interested in. He loves music, he wants to produce and direct. I love that drive and energy, and that desire to do more than act. It’s inspiring.”
There is, she thinks, another parallel between her and Elba. “For a black actor there aren’t many roles, so he goes about creating those roles through what he produces and directs.” That, she says, is what she wants to do for women. “There are too few women writers and consequently too few roles for women. I want to change that.” She had a plan to do just that in a Film Council-bankrolled project she was working on with Emma Thompson that collapsed when the council was scrapped last year.
How about playing Hamlet, I suggest. Ashford said she has the intellectual and emotional depth to be a terrific in the role. “You know what? I’d love to play Hamlet. Shakespeare didn’t write that many great roles for women. It’s like you come in for one scene then spend four hours waiting backstage for the next line.” So it would be good to wrest the role from the boys? “You bet. I don’t shy away from a challenge that would scare the shit out of me. You need the fear always to be there. Otherwise you’re in the wrong job.”
— The Guardian, Friday 13 April 2012 (X)