Laura Haddock talks tiaras, bangs and Netflix’s The Recruit

Laura Haddock stars in the new Netflix series The Recruit in which she plays Max Meladze, a prison inmate willing to expose the CIA. Here, she discusses her wildly complex character that’s soon to hit screens, the chain that’s welded to her wrist and her love of diamonds

Photography by Hannah Cosgrove, Story by Jessica Bumpus

Laura Haddock wants to bring back the tiara. On a recent Monday afternoon, sat in the basement of a south-west London café (where a string of nostalgic mid-noughties songs are blasting out, seemingly, from behind the walls), we’re working out how this might happen. “It still wouldn’t be daywear, would it?” ponders the actor, who has just worn a “very cool little tiara”, as she puts it, on our shoot.

We decide that it definitely could be – and should be – worn for evening, no problem, absolutely. Haddock adds that she’s also really loving a bejewelled headband at the moment, and pulls out her phone to show me some by Victoria Percival, a friend of hers. I wonder if the current allure is because it’s getting close to party season. Though the Instagram scroll in front of me offers various bridal options, there are also plenty that feel wonderfully bauble-esque. “I just see them and I just think, ‘Oh yeah, Christmas-sy. That’ll be me, in my pyjamas,’” she says, laughing.

Laura Haddock for Something About Rocks
Laura Haddock wears Chopard white gold Haute Joaillerie earrings set with diamonds, Area top and Sandro trousers

Haddock is down to earth, full of smiles and great jewellery tips – Cleopatra’s Bling is another one – and well-known for her roles in Da Vinci’s Demons, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Inbetweeners film and Downton Abbey: A New Era. Next up to add to that list is The Recruit, a new Netflix drama in which she stars opposite Noah Centineo, as a former CIA asset, now in prison with information about the CIA that she is willing to release unless she is exonerated from her sentence. “And it’s up to him to try and fulfill her request,” she teases.

Laura Haddock wears Chaumet white gold Joséphine Aigrette Impériale tiara set with brilliant diamonds and Brunello Cucinelli jumper

Haddock describes her character, Max Meladze, as being “wildly layered” and “so much fun” to play. She definitely has some attitude. “When we first meet her, she’s in prison,” Haddock explains, “she’s been there for five years and she’s ready come out.” Max also has a very serious blunt fringe going on. “[It’s] so cool. I just lived vicariously through those bangs for six months,” she says, but today wears her own hair pulled back off her face. “It [the bangs] does something to you; it does make you feel edgier.”

Laura Haddock wears Fernando Jorge white gold High Stream loop earrings set with diamonds and Van Cleef & Arpels white gold Cyllene ring set with diamonds

Attention was also paid to the character’s jewellery – Max sports a nose piercing, as well as multiple earring piercings. Haddock pinpoints this as an important part of the character’s – of any character’s, in fact – formation. “The process of, in the morning, getting your makeup done… getting the outfit on and then, in those final moments, just placing your jewellery in, it feels like you’ve completed a process”, she explains. It plays a role in her personal life, too. “For me, when I’m getting ready at home for the day or for an event, jewellery is always the last thing that I put on – and it’s like [the process has been] completed.”

One of Haddock’s earliest and most formative memories of jewellery, she recalls, is “probably seeing my mum’s wedding and engagement ring on the side, in the kitchen; you know she’d taken them off to do the washing up or when we were in the bath… [they were always] together on a side counter somewhere,” she says.

Another one, as she got a little bit older, was visiting her grandmothers’ houses to go through their jewellery boxes. “It was like a magic treasure trove of sparkly things – and I was just like a little magpie. ‘Oh, that one’s nice!’,” she re-enacts. “You don’t look at them at that age and think, ‘Do these have any value?’ You’re just looking at them like, ‘Oh, so beautiful,’ and then you realise, ‘Gosh, a lot of them have a lot of stories… and gosh that’s had a long life.’”

Laura Haddock for Something About Rocks
Laura Haddock wears Cartier white gold necklace, set with diamonds, and white gold Reflection de Cartier earrings, set with diamonds

The thin gold chain currently on her wrist has its own very interesting story to tell. It’s welded to her wrist. That’s right. Welded. There is no clasp. And as I keep trying to comprehend how it’s put on or taken off, Haddock points out, simply, that neither occurs.

“I decided I’d wear this for the period of time that I could when I wasn’t filming, so that it was like, ‘Okay, back to process itself is pretty amazing. “I went into Liberty and there is a woman there. She’s a welder. I put my arm in this machine and she put her goggles on and got out her welding tools and then welded this very thin gold bangle to my arm. And I left thinking, ‘Oh wow, I’ve just done something for me that’s pretty cool.’” She likes that it is semi-permanent (you can only get it off with pliers) because she has already lost so many thin, delicate gold bracelets like this one.

When she’s wearing jewellery on the red carpet, which naturally comes as part of her job, there is, of course, no fear of losing anything. “The process is so funny because it’s very efficient,” she says. “So you get a security guard arrive with the jewels and then they open the box; [there are] sometimes even gloves involved. No hairspray is allowed near the diamonds because they’re very precious, so it is the last piece you put on normally, just as you walk out the door.”

She describes the experience of wearing the pieces themselves as magical, and sometimes, owing to the cost and value of the item, a security guard will follow her – or rather it – around. On occasion, she has found herself having a delightful time at a party, only for it to strike midnight, and, just like Cinderella, will have her evening turn back into the proverbial pumpkin as the security guard comes to take the jewellery back. “It should come off any minute,” she jokes.

Laura Haddock for Something About Rocks
Laura Haddock wears G By Glenn Spiro green titanium Iviera earrings, set with brilliant-cut heart-shaped diamonds

Her own jewellery style, however, is more minimal, discrete. She favours little and delicate, thin and gold over anything chunky. Today, aside from some small earrings and the aforementioned dainty welded bracelet, she has left any sign of jewellery at home, mostly in preparation for the day’s shoot.

Her favourite brands include Tasaki, Anita Ko, Kimaï and Chaumet with whom she has enjoyed a relationship over the last few years. “I really love the team there,” she says. And other brands she likes include Jessica McCormack and Annina Vogel. She is an earrings, ring and bangle girl, as opposed to one for necklaces; earrings, she feels, are about an occasion.

Had Haddock not got into acting, she wonders whether she might have been playing lacrosse instead. “I was really sporty growing up at school, really into lacrosse and tennis,” she says. But then there came a point at which she had to decide where to focus her energy. Had she gone down the lacrosse route, she wonders if she would still be playing it now. “[It would be] such a different life,” she says, laughing.

Acting had always been something she had enjoyed as a recreational activity after school. “I didn’t realise it was a job, if I’m honest,” she says – she just knew that she liked it. One day, a teacher, who had been an actor, came into her school. She taught Haddock about the world outside her local town; “[She] was just really pivotal in my understanding of [acting] being something that I could do as a profession,” Haddock recalls. That teacher helped her to apply to drama school, guided her and was there to work on audition pieces.

Laura Haddock for Something About Rocks
Laura Haddock wears G By Glenn Spiro green titanium Iviera earrings, set with brilliant-cut heart-shaped diamonds

Haddock’s favourite character to play, in terms of their jewellery, was Lucrezia Donati from Da Vinci’s Demons. “She was this Italian sorcerer, and she had great jewels on her, always really loud and amazing colours and really cool pieces.” A little different, I gather, from her own personal taste.

But Haddock does confess that she may have had her own slight Lucrezia Donati moment, albeit in a totally different style. “When I was younger, I was really obsessed with women who wore really big gold hoops with their hair back. I was like, ‘Woah, that is cool.’ And I remember the first time I ever wore a pair of those hoops with my hair parted and pulled back, and I genuinely looked in the mirror and thought: ‘You’re cool, you’re cool now. You’ve made it to the big dizzy heights of the jewellery wearer.’”

Styling (jewellery) by Felix Bischof, Styling (fashion) by Alicia Ellis, Make up by Sara Hill using Augustinus Bader, Hair by Nao Kawakami and Jewellery Assistant Joshua Hendren