“No-one’s going to cast me in it unless I write it”
Rose Matafeo wrote Starstruck about a one night stand with a celeb, to take back the power -but insists it's fiction.
Comedian Rose Matefeo is being candid in our interview for upcoming ABC comedy Starstruck, but the subject matter demands it.
“I actually don’t think I’ve ever had a one night stand,” she reveals.
“It doesn’t count as a one night stand if you sleep with them again, right? So no, never have! Isn’t that crazy?”
My questions are a little more forward than I would usually venture, but I offer her the chance to politely decline.
The premise for Starstruck, you see, sees Jessie (Rose Matafeo) navigate the complications that arise after having a one-night stand with a celebrity (Nikesh Patel).
Matafeo, who co-created the series with writer Alice Snedden, assures that it isn’t based on personal experience.
“It’s so funny… the amount of questions I’ve had asking ‘Is this is based on true life?’
“It’s pure fantasy. That’s never happened to me. And it was more like, what would happen if….?
“I love rom-coms to a dangerous degree.”
“I love rom-coms to a dangerous degree. I’ve kind of explored this in my standup shows.
“Historically, I am classic sassy best friend material, so part of me thought it’d be very cool -in a psycho way- to write myself into a lead role in a romantic comedy. Take the power back. No-one’s going to cast me in it unless I write it.”
The end result is Starstruck, a 6 part sitcom for BBC and HBO Max which has been so well received it is already renewed for a second season.
Following a drunken New Year’s Eve hook-up, part-time cinema staffer and nanny Jessie finds herself navigating the awkward morning-after-the-night-before when she discovers that her random hook-up is actually a famous film star. What she thought would become an amusing anecdote soon turns into something more, as the couple realise they can’t keep away from each other.
“It’s a bit of a coming of age -at a later age- story for the lead character, Jessie. She’s living in London, in her late 20s, not really up to much and slightly happy doing so. But the series is sort of a gentle exploration of that first year of getting to know someone or being in a ‘will they / won’t they?’ relationship. I feel that rings quite true for people my age and people in romantic situations in this generation,” she continues.
“I basically had to take it on good authority from my friends”
“I’m saying that with a question mark, because I basically had to take it on good authority from my friends because I’m not out there doing that. So this is purely all fiction, and hearsay about relationships and hookups.
“It’s just about two people who really like each other who are basically orbiting each other but because of their personalities and circumstance are pushed and pulled away from each other.”
New Zealand born Matafeo has previously appeared in sketch series Funny Girls, Golden Boy, Squinters, Dead Pixels and Baby Done. Success in the Edinburgh Fringe (her show Horndog won Best Show in 2018). But transitioning to television has required some creative exploration.
“I had been living in the UK for a couple of years, pitching a bunch of stuff to TV places and trying to figure out the best thing to do. Making that step from stand up stuff to scripted narrative, I think takes a little while to figure out what that project is. Starstruck was like, number five on the list, underneath tons of other ideas.
“I think got to the point where I simplified it to ‘What do I love watching?’ and just make that.”
The series, which also features Emma Sidi and Minnie Driver, also marks a watershed moment in UK broadcasting history with most BBC Three comedies now either starring, written by or created by women. 58% of long-form scripted comedy on BBC Three are now written by women.
“I’d like that it just becomes normalised”
“This is just a gender parity of talent and it’s almost not noticeable. I’d like that it just becomes normalised, and all of the best people making stuff, just happen to be these people,” says Matafeo.
“But it’s very cool, actually.”
Despite the validation Matafeo, doesn’t expect to start dating celebrities just yet, even though she confesses to an interest in Instagram and gossip websites.
“I have a healthy appreciation of that kind of culture. I’m interested in how that world is very, very far away from someone like me.
“But this is me saying ‘I have not dated Henry Cavill and I don’t think I ever will.'”
Starstruck screens 9pm Wednesdays on ABC.