Drawing: Lydia Leonard in Onassis

Lydia Leonard

In 2010 British actress Lydia Leonard played the role of Jackie Onassis in Martin Sherman’s play Onassis at the Novello Theatre in London, alongside Robert Lindsay in the title role.

The ex-Mrs John F. Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping’s biggest player. “I don’t think I’d have like her, had I met her,” Lydia told a journalist. “My sympathies lie entirely with Maria Callas,” (with whom the shipping magnate had a doomed affair – Maria called it ‘Marilyn Monroe plays Ophelia’).

“She would put on this voice – breathy and saccharine – which made her seem stupid. She absolutely wasn’t. She was intellectual, manipulative and enigmatic.”

Hanging around the Novello stage door, which has zilch cover, in the middle of winter is no fun, but the Onassis cast were. I drew a few sketches – mostly quick montages with the soft 4B lead – to capture the characters energy. It took a few visits in rain, hail and sign, but a very pleasant way to start 2011.

Lydia is currently playing Anne Boleyn in a double bill of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies at the Aldwych.