Carey Mulligan has a new tattoo. The phrase inked on the inside of her right wrist is so tiny I have to lean in to read it as she sits across from me in the airy lobby of the Crosby Street Hotel in lower Manhattan. It’s early morning, but Mulligan, 29, has already been up for hours; she’s still on London time after having just flown here for the Broadway run of David Hare’s Skylight. She apologizes for not eating anything—when her jet lag woke her at dawn, she ravenously ate breakfast. By the time we sit down, all she’s in the mood for is some Earl Grey tea, served the proper British way, with milk and one lump of sugar.
Her new tattoo—“Love That Overcometh”—is a reference from a film she recently finished shooting, Suffragette, which opens this fall. Co-starring Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter, it tells the story of female activists who fought for the right to vote in Britain; the phrase on Mulligan’s wrist commemorates a suffragette who threw herself under the king’s horse in martyrdom to the cause. The tattoo was an impulsive act, she admits, but the line kept resonating in her head after shooting. “I texted a picture of this to everyone right after I got it,” says Mulligan. Even wearing no makeup and a slouchy blue cashmere sweater, her brown bob disheveled, she conveys a wry, impish quality immediately recognizable from her on-screen performances. “I sent it to Helena and Sarah [Gavron, Suffragette’s director], and they were like, ‘Holy s—! This movie had better be good now.’ ”