he holiday season is an especially wonderful time of the year for Perdita “Perdie” Weeks, who was born on Christmas Day. Named after the heroine in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, the British actress who plays Juliet Higgins on Magnum P.I. is looking forward to her first Yuletide in Hawai‘i.
“I’m staying here, it’s my first Christmas away from England,” she explains. “But my sister (actress Honeysuckle Weeks) and her son are flying out to stay with me, so we’ll have a bit of home.”
On O‘ahu since 2018 for filming of CBS’ reboot of the 1980s classic, Weeks shares that she spent the last couple of winter breaks in the U.K., but the time difference, jet lag and lack of sleep was exhausting.
“I’m excited. A Hawaiian Christmas — Mele Kalikimaka!”
She’s already designated herself sous chef and her sister the main chef, and is thinking about getting a Christmas tree. After all, she needs a place for the double amount of presents she receives each year. She tells us she doesn’t need anything much in life, except for maybe a nice bottle of red wine — good wine and good company.
“Ordinarily when I’m with my family, they tend to give me my birthday presents on Christmas Eve just to sort of even it out,” says Weeks. “That started happening when my siblings (she also has a brother named Rollo) would get jealous about how many presents I had.
“(Christmas) is the best birthday to have, honestly, because no one’s working. Everyone’s around, there’s always loads of good food, everything looks pretty, the house always looks lovely, it smells nice and everyone is in a jolly mood.”
Born in Cardiff, Wales, Weeks now lives in West Sussex, located in the English countryside, which is where she spent her extended seven-month hiatus from work due to the lockdown.
“I saw the beginning of autumn for the first time in a few years, it was great,” she says. “We were pretty lucky. Where I’m from, there wasn’t a huge amount of (COVID-19) cases.”
In September, Magnum P.I. got the green light for cameras to start rolling again, and cast and crew were called back to set, with safety protocols in place, of course. Since returning, Weeks reveals that they’re tested regularly, and someone is on-site checking that everyone is following COVID-19 safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask and physically distancing.
“Everyone is trying to keep each other safe and everyone’s job safe,” she says. “We just can’t really afford to lose any more time, we’re already so far behind schedule.”
Before landing the female lead role on the reimagined Magnum P.I., Weeks had never been to the Hawaiian Islands.
“I was familiar with the (original) show but I didn’t watch it—it was a bit before my time,” she says. “But I was aware of it the way everyone is the red Ferrari, Hawai‘i. That’s how I knew about Hawai‘i. The very existence of the place in my mind was connected to that show.”
Four decades later, and the same captivating surroundings of O‘ahu still exist; however, Honolulu’s urban skyline has grown dramatically.
“It’s very much more metropolitan than I was expecting, but then I went
to the North Shore and I was like, oh, this is Hawai‘i,” remembers Weeks. “It’s great. It’s also better than I thought. It’s amazing to be able to live here. My favorite thing is the scenery for sure—it’s just so beautiful.
“I love a good hike—the waterfalls, and the plant life is extraordinary. Also the topography, I couldn’t live somewhere flat; and being next to the ocean on a daily basis. It’s just bizarre to be so remote. You look at a map, and I’m like that’s where I’m from, and now I’m two oceans away.”
She’s also grown accustomed to the cuisine of Hawai‘i, particularly the Asian influences, such as Vietnamese food, and, of course, the abundance of fresh island fish.
“I love poke, that’s a whole new thing. I never ate raw fish before I came here,” says Weeks, adding she also likes spicy food. “I’m a pescatarian, I don’t eat meat, but the fish here is so amazing. I love Merriman’s. I love all the fun little places in Chinatown. Senia is great, and the chef (Anthony Rush) is a Brit. They have some great restaurants here, but I also love a food truck.”
If you’re lucky enough to share a meal with Weeks, be warned that her biggest pet peeve is bad table manners, such as smacking or eating with your mouth open, and rudeness to waiters.
Weeks’ acting career started when she was just 6 years old, after being discovered, along with her sister and brother, by a children’s talent agent. While attending boarding school in the south of England, her mom would take her to auditions in London.
She played Catriona Hartdegan in Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning Penny Dreadful and was Mary Boleyn in The Tudors. She also starred in the 2014 American horror film As Above, So Below, and appeared in a number of TV series, including Rebellion, The Great Fire, Titanic, Lost in Austen and Midsomer Murders. As for the highlight of her career to date, she lists working with legendary film director Steven Spielberg on the 2018 film Ready Player One.
“He’s the nicest person of all time; people say that, but it really is true,” she says. “It was just extraordinary to see him work. And this (Magnum P.I.) has been amazing.”
The new Magnum P.I., now in its third season, brought back the iconic red Ferrari and signature aloha shirts. But there were some noticeable differences, including the gender swap of Jonathan Higgins, the character originally portrayed by the late John Hillerman. It’s now Juliet Higgins, “majordomo” turned boss (as we learned in the season two finale) for the luxurious Robin’s Nest estate.
“I’m far less tough than she is and far more apologetic, but she’s so fun to play,” says Weeks. “She might have brought out something in me that potentially wasn’t there to begin with this sort of tough aspect and quite forthright and headstrong.”
As for the fancy cars, detective skills and ability to fight, Weeks can some what relate. She grew up playing sports (netball, tennis, field hockey and swimming) and credits her undeniably toned arms to “a lot” of pushups and lifting weights. She calls herself clumsy but loves to jump off high things and tries to do as much of her own stunts as possible, however, she likes to leave going through tables or glass doors and fast driving scenes to the professionals.
“My car here is very normal—a soccer mom car, you would never look twice at it, which is kind of why I got it and I love it,” she confesses.
Like fellow Brit Higgins, Weeks is also well educated. She studied art history at the prestigious The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, with dreams of becoming an art curator for a gallery.
During her downtime on set, Weeks enjoys reading, and lists David Mitchell, Ian McEwan, Iain Banks and Sebastian Faulks as some of her favorite authors.
“I like sort of historical fiction,” she says. “My historical knowledge is pretty terrible, so if I can read a great novel that’s set in a historical period of time that I don’t know anything about, I’m very keen on that.”
As for the current chapter of her life, fans can count on Weeks to continue fighting an endless supply of bad guys on screen, while creating new memories off screen.
“The people I’ve met and the things I’ve gotten the chance to do, and living in Hawai‘i, it’s been quite something,” she says. “When I first got here, it was hard, just being so far away from friends and family. But, I got very lucky with the cast and crew. I have my Hawai‘i family now, which I’m very thankful for.”