The Big Issue: Your pinned tweet is an Orwell quote: “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” What does that mean to you?
Joseph Mawle: Facing uncomfortable truths. That’s something that Orwell was renowned for. There are ideas and there are facts, and they are different things. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, grizzly, mean, pessimistic, but it’s actually about looking at those facts rather than ideas.
Is it a quote you came across while researching the part?
I can’t say I was a huge fan of his beforehand. I’m not brilliantly well read until I find a purpose to read. On this occasion, it was to find out more about a man whose real name was Eric Blair. There are parts of him that can be quite repellent. He described himself as an odious little snob while he was at Eton. No one’s completely clean, there’s no one perfect. We are imperfect as a species and we continue to be.
Orwell’s last words on his last published statement, relating to 1984, said: “Do not let it happen. It depends on you.”
Do you think Orwell’s name being used as an adjective simplifies somebody who was quite complex?
He is absolutely much more complex. He felt uncomfortable in his own skin. He had this voice that people say was Etonian then, as I understand it, he tried to be a bit estuary. There’s no recordings of him anywhere. From what I researched, Orwell was very conscious of a ruling-class voice suggesting someone looking down on others, and that his writing was to be for everyone. Animal Farm is written so a child could understand the story, just as an adult who’d been through the wars could understand what he was talking about.