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Interview with Charlene McKenna who plays Leah Liebermann in Vienna Blood

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What’s your on-screen family like?

My on-screen family consists of Conleth Hill, who plays my papa; Amelia Bullmore plays mamma and Matthew Beard plays the ‘one and only’ Max Liebermann.

As a family there’s a lot of devilment in the cast, but I would also say there’s a lot of twinkle in the family. On screen they are very upper class. They are a Jewish family who moved over to Vienna. Max is a doctor. I’m his older sister. We have a fabric company. We’re quite high society. Appearances matter. I love Leah’s relationship with Max because she provokes him but she enjoys provoking him because he goes against the grain. He really rubs mamma up the wrong way and Leah enjoys that a little bit. They love each other and I think they’re a great family. As a cast we love each other and we are a great little acting family. There’s a lot of laughter, goodwill and good humour. It’s a lovely family on and off screen.

What traits do you share with Leah?

I guess – and I hope I’m not speaking too highly of myself here – her dry sense of humour. Leah is quite wry, fiery and witty… now I’m talking about Leah it sounds like I’m giving myself loads of compliments!

What did you do to prepare for the role?

The production gifted us being able to shoot in Vienna, so every single thing you needed was on your doorstep. It’s amazing to be able to go and see all of the architecture they would have been able to see – the art, the Beethoven Frieze is there, the Mak has all the bakelite stuff that was very à la mode. Just to be able to walk around Vienna and completely submerge yourself in these cultural elements and see first-hand what they would’ve been looking at is a complete gift.

What was it like filming during the pandemic?

Vienna Blood was my first production during the pandemic. The production team and cast were already into it by the time I got there. It felt like a well-oiled machine for something that was a very new experience for all of us. I’ve nothing to compare it to but it felt like the very best experience you could have during a bad experience, if that makes sense. It was so well handled. The Covid team was great and the producers were all great so you didn’t feel unsafe. I felt very safe and taken care of.

If you weren’t an actor, would you be better at police work or psychoanalysis?

It’s hard. My husband always says that I would make a great lawyer because of how I argue. But that’s not quite a policeman. I think I would go for ‘psychoanalyst’ because in real life I am obsessed with all things psychotherapy.