Actress Juliet Stevenson has spoken about her decision to quit Twitter, saying she felt a “weight come off” once she deleted it.
The Bafta-nominated British star, known for roles in films such as Truly, Madly, Deeply and Bend It Like Beckham, explained she is still on Instagram, but does not use Twitter any more.
She is currently starring in Robert Icke’s stage production of The Doctor, which is an adaption of the 1912 play Professor Bernhardi, and documents the events that unfold when a doctor at a hospital refuses entry to a priest who has arrived to see a young woman fighting for her life.
Speaking about the production, which first opened in 2019 at the Almeida Theatre, she told BBC Breakfast: “It’s a kind of fantastic exploration of the sort of forces that are shaping a lot of our lives.
'Freedom of speech is being undermined by fear, people are scared to talk about certain things' Actor Juliet Stevenson told #BBCBreakfast why she quit Twitter as she discussed her latest West End role in the play 'The Doctor' pic.twitter.com/hOAfxbgxVM
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) September 27, 2022
“I think many people are scared of the power of social media, we’re all kind of addicted to it, or many of us are, but it’s also sort of taken over our lives and created this, this ferment of argument and intolerance, which I think the play does a wonderful job of saying: ‘listen to all points of view’, you can hear all these points of view without fear, or without risking anything yourself.
“It doesn’t take anybody’s side, she’s not a moral heroine.”
Speaking about her decision to come off Twitter, she told Jon Kay and Sally Nugent: “We’ve had a three-year gap, since it (the production) first played before lockdown, and I came off Twitter during that time.
“I was kind of getting a bit bullied online for something I posted and then I just realised I was getting terrified and obsessed with the responses and I thought: ‘Hang on a minute, these are not conversations, everybody’s just screaming into their own echo chamber.
“‘Why am I spending so much emotional energy on minding about this? I’m just going to step back.’
“I had hoped it would be a place you could have interesting conversations, and I don’t think it is that any more – not for me, anyway.
“I think the place to have interesting conversations is in the flesh with people in the pub, or in your own communities, I think.
“I think I have been sort of discouraged in a way.
“We know that it has great value as well, social media, but I think the play is an exploration to some extent of how we have become less tolerant, less able to hear opposing points of view, and how people, freedom of speech, I think, is being undermined by fear.
“People are scared to talk about certain things, the play looks at all those things, but with generosity, with tolerance.”
The actress, 65, said leaving Twitter was a “huge relief”, adding: “The minute I did (delete it), I felt this sort of, weight come off.”
Stevenson still uses Instagram but added “not very efficiently”, saying: “I think it’s kinder and it’s more fun… I mean, my generation, we didn’t grow up with it, so we’re not perhaps so hooked on it.
“And obviously, there are great benefits, but like all inventions, you have to be careful that they don’t end up controlling you, don’t they?”
Earlier this year Stevenson and her husband offered one of their adult children’s bedrooms to a Ukrainian mother and her young daughter, and she said it has been a “really happy experience”.
The actress said: “She is an amazing young woman, amazing artist, wonderful mum… little girl is six, we got her into a brilliant local school, which she loves.
“She’s learned English from scratch in six months. They’re incredibly resourceful, brave and really lovely people.
“I think we’ve been so lucky.
“It’s been remarkable actually, living alongside them, and just to experience that brutal, horrendous war with people who are coping with it… it’s an eye-opener, really.
“It’s a very mutual relationship, we support each other, we run the house together.”