Katie Holmes reprises her Jackie Kennedy role for new miniseries

Katie Holmes plays Jackie Kennedy (then Onassis) in The Kennedys: After Camelot.

Katie Holmes plays Jackie Kennedy (then Onassis) in The Kennedys: After Camelot.

Katie Holmes first played Jacqueline Kennedy in the 2011 mini-series The Kennedys, which followed the Kennedys in the White House, including President John Kennedy's 1963 assassination. Now Holmes is stepping back into those designer shoes in the one-off series The Kennedys: After Camelot.

This story takes place five years after the tragedy and the former first lady is living in New York with her two children when the family is shaken by the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Later that year, Jackie Kennedy becomes 'Jackie O' when she marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The 38-year-old actress – who was married to Tom Cruise for five years and raises their 11-year-old daughter Suri as a single mum – talks about reprising the role and how she deals with her own fame.

What did you learn about Jackie this time?
Digging deeper into the research and this time in her life, it made me realise how strong and resilient she was and how much she focused on always doing the best she could.

Alexander Siddig (Aristotle Onassis) and Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy).

Alexander Siddig (Aristotle Onassis) and Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy).

I think what was exciting for all of us in doing this series again was trying to depict the humanity behind these people that we so adore, because they are so much more than this fairy-tale larger-than-life family.

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Did you get any feedback from the Kennedy family?
No. What we set out to achieve was a little bit of a love letter to the Kennedys because we depict all the events in a way that really shows a human side as opposed to a tabloid version of it. That was our goal and I hope they're happy with it.

Friends star Matthew Perry plays Ted Kennedy in The Kennedys: After Camelot.

Friends star Matthew Perry plays Ted Kennedy in The Kennedys: After Camelot.

Natalie Portman played Jackie in a film last year. Why do you think people are all still fascinated with the Kennedys?
I think it's the fact that there were so many Kennedys that were so powerful and it was the closest thing America ever had to a royal family. What JFK did in the White House impacted the world so greatly and Jackie was a woman who was timeless in her elegance and her strength and charm.

She had a quality to her that meant so much to so many and I feel that's why we want to keep revisiting her.

How did you prepare to play someone so recognisable?
It was a big process to become her because I'm not naturally that way. I had to work really hard with my acting teacher for months, finding different sources of inspiration to build the character.

Financial adviser Maurice Templesman (Ron Lea) with Jackie (Katie Holmes).

Financial adviser Maurice Templesman (Ron Lea) with Jackie (Katie Holmes).

When I finally got to the point where I was putting the clothes on and the wigs and the makeup, it felt very much in me.

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What did you learn about Jackie that surprised you?
I was able to listen to the White House interview tapes that were released after we did the first series and she had a funny personality and really loved to laugh. That made a lot of sense to me then; that she was able to get through so much tragedy and not let it destroy her because she was just born with a lot of joy.

People prefer to portray her as a grieving widow or glamorous first lady, and she knew how to put on the star quality when it was needed, but I think it's also important to see that she was pretty normal and fun and down-to-earth as well.

When you look back on your 90s TV series Dawson's Creek, are you surprised that all four of you – Josh Jackson, Michele Williams and James Van Der Beek – are still working today?
I think it was a combination of things that happened but that show was definitely lightning in a bottle. The four of us found it really interesting to experience those six years together because we knew it was something that was bigger than us so we tried to take it in and enjoy it but laugh about it too.

We bump into each other from time to time and it's great to see what everyone else is doing. I think we were just really lucky to get that opportunity and have it carry on from there.

Like Jackie, you've been famous for a long time. How do you deal with it?
I really enjoy being an artist and I really enjoy making movies and TV but I try to be as private as possible because I like to keep my family safe, and it just feels better that way.

I also don't take all that other stuff seriously and don't worry about it much. I am just really grateful for the things I get to do in my career so if there's pictures of me taken from time to time, I don't let it ruin my day.

The Kennedys: After Camelot, Prime, starts Thursday June 29.

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 - TV Guide


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