In the bookshop, Roberts leafs nostalgically through the children’s book Babar the Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff, before picking up a copy of Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse to take home for Rhodes. She insists on buying me a book too: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. ‘It’s part family story, part social commentary on mid-century America,’ she says in full literary fairy godmother mode. ‘Maybe you can start it on your trip home.’
We walk up the high street, passing bistros and chi-chi boutiques, to a nearby coffee shop. A couple of teenage girls slink off their stools when they see Roberts. ‘Can we take a photo with you?’ one of them asks. She obliges with her usual peppiness. ‘I love your films,’ whispers the other girl, her eyes wide with admiration.
The village’s recently renovated cinema is our final destination and, at Roberts’ suggestion, we sit outside on the terrace, coats zipped up to our chins, hands wrapped around hot matcha lattes. She is warm, garrulous and asks questions in a way that creates an immediate intimacy.
She talks candidly about her personal experience with the paparazzi. ‘The way I was followed and treated when I was pregnant was disgusting,’ she says. It’s a rare moment of indignation from a woman who is otherwise determinedly upbeat. ‘I’d be driving to a doctor’s appointment and they’d be following me so closely. At one point, I remember saying to them, “Please don’t do that, I’m eight months pregnant.” But they don’t care. It’s not the fun, creative part of the job, for sure.’