Aidan Turner is Ross Poldark
Aidan Turner returns to play the eponymous Ross Poldark in what he reveals to be the most explosive series yet. Poldark returns to BBC One this June.
From musket training to hiding in castle moats, Aidan has relished the new challenges.
“We filmed the French scenes in this incredible place with a huge moat and rivers and lots of little places where we could duck off and run into the woods with a musket. It was great fun. This series the boys got to do a lot more action-filled filming. We were running around with guns and breaking into prisons and there is a lot of espionage involved, it’s tonnes of fun and great to break it up for Ross.
“The domestic life at Nampara can be fantastic too and acting those scenes with Eleanor or Beatie are always great to do but there is nothing quite like playing soldiers with the lads.”
Playing soldiers, as Aidan reveals, could be rather dangerous even with proper training!
“We had professional musket training. They kick off a lot off black powder so you want to know what you are doing. You can very easily dampen the squib and ruin the shot. They are the real deal, they’re not replicas and the bayonets are real they have just been sharpened as it gives you the right sense of weight.
“I did break my hand because of the musket! In one of the scenes we are busting into a prison and Harry Richardson who plays Demelza’s brother, Drake Carne, was pulling back his rifle and the cock of the rifle caught my little finger on my left hand and pulled it right back. I knew something was wrong straight away but I had to finish the scene. The next thirty seconds it felt like jelly.”
Whilst Ross’s adventurous side has clearly not been lost, Aidan assures us his character has also grown up this series.
“Ross has matured a lot. As an actor you don’t always want to walk the same footprints you have walked in before so you want the character to be pushed into situations he hasn’t been in before.
“Ross is growing up a lot more, becoming more mature and is better at listening. He only takes big risks now if he has to but it’s still in him and there will always be an inner rebel trying to get out. There is one big risk that Ross believes he has to take for the sake of loyalty and for friendship. The difference is however, he is tentative about pushing the idea because there is a huge possibility that he won’t come back from this but Demelza realises by the way that Ross approaches that situation that given the circumstance, he has to go.
“He is aware of repercussions more so now than he has been previously. It comes with growing inside of a relationship but also losing a child and having a business fail a couple of times and not knowing whether you’re going to be able to put food on the table for your family. These are all difficult things that you would like to think would make you wise up.”
With a slightly older and wiser Ross this series we see a new dimension to the on-going rivalry between Poldark and his nemesis, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing).
“The moments between George and Ross this series are interesting to play out for myself and Jack because we have already been through those scenes before when they get face to face and before you know it they are throwing candles at each other but there are only so many times you can do that so we are trying new approaches.
“They both have too much to lose now, as they are getting older, they can’t really afford to do each other serious harm. Ross still believes that George is an incredibly dangerous person, with his vindictive and callous nature and so he should be treated with the utmost care. It is for that reason you see Ross going to see George to lay down the law.
“For the sake of their wives and children they have to come to some sort of understanding or resolution. It is quite a mature move from both characters. Whether it will last… who knows? But it certainly starts off in the right direction.”
After a tumultuous ending to last series, Aidan talks to us about Ross’s relationship with his wife, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) this series.
“We pick up this series with Ross mending his relationship with Demelza. There is obviously a lot of tension still in the air but it seems like they have talked it through so Ross is licking his wounds a little bit and trying to get his relationship back on track again. They have their own family to think of now and want to get on with life while hoping for an easier one.
“The relationship between Ross and Demelza has always felt very real for Eleanor and I, that’s why it is so enjoyable to play. We can really track the progress of their relationship and when we go to shoot a scene and we do our research on what has come before, it is easy to join the dots and to see where they are at and why.
“Eleanor and myself have worked together for so long now that we are very familiar with each other and our relationship progresses alongside the relationship between our characters. When we are doing these scenes you’re just looking into that person’s eyes and you are relating to them on that platform and in that context and it feels like any relationship would feel, it is very real for us.”
This series we welcome Demelza’s two brothers, Drake and Sam Carne (Tom York). Aidan reveals Ross’s reaction to the young, troublesome lads.
“Ross’s philanthropy towards Sam and comes from obligation as an in-law. At the same time, they are both very young and Ross believes everyone deserves a chance. He knows the family upbringing wasn’t easy; he was never a fan of their father, Tom Carne. I don’t think Ross is particularly enamoured by John Wesley and the Methodist movement and the fact they are so heavily involved in that. However, they are good-natured, nice fellas and Ross sees that while finding them slightly dull… they can’t drink!”
This series sees a great influx of new characters. Aidan explains the effect, on and off screen, this has had.
“It’s a new lease of life for the show every season when you get new characters, especially when they are being played by such talented actors who just fluidly manage to get on with the existing cast so well. We are very open to new cast coming in and I think they have been enjoying it.
“When you’re close to the top of the cast list you’re guiding the show in a certain direction and you are watched and rightly so. You are at the helm of this ship and there is a responsibility with that so I am aware of it certainly. However, when it comes to being friendly with new cast members, everyone on set, all the crew, cast and producers are just as gracious and inviting and friendly.”
Aidan reveals that Ross finds a new friend in one of the most adventurous new characters this series, Tholly Tregirls, played by Sean Gilder.
“Ross finds Tholly very funny. He is a risk taker like Ross and is ambivalent to a lot of things but there is loyalty there. He is always the first one to get the joke, he is courageous and Ross knows he has his back and is not there just to make a quick buck or two or because he is duty bound, he is genuinely there because he likes Ross and they can help each other.
“They have a great relationship and for Tholly to be able to see Ross grown up now, having known his father, their relationship is even more solid. The last time he would have seen him Ross would have been a boy and he is obviously a lot older now and it is nice having the energy of Tholly around for some scenes. He can be a pain in the ass for Ross and a liability but the good certainly outweighs the bad.
“Sean brings out the lighter side of me in the same way Tholly is able to bring out Ross’s humorous, lighter side. Sean knows what will make me laugh so he tends to chuck things in and you cant fight it; you just have to go with it. We have a good chemistry on set and a good energy. Sean knows when Tholly needs to take it seriously so that is when we get the work done but other than that we are fooling around and having fun.”
And is Aidan looking forward to filming a fourth series of Poldark?
“Yes, absolutely. There is more story to tell and we are doing a decent job of it so it is nice to be coming back. There is talk of my on-screen horse Seamus needing to retire as he is 17 now. I love Seamus, he’s a real star, and I have a huge attachment to him obviously but if he needs to retire…”
The Miniaturist Interviews: Romola Garai
Romola Garai plays Marin Brandt in The Miniaturist, premiering soon on BBC-1, here she talks about what drew her to the drama and being in a costume drama where she pretty much only gets to wear one costume.
What attracted you to the role of Marin?
I’d read the book shortly after it came out and I thought it was a really surprising novel, really interesting and with very strong feminist themes in it, so I was very excited about it. Time passed and then an email popped into my inbox with the subject, The Miniaturist. I thought it was fantastic they were making it and I was really excited to read the script.
It’s a very genre-bending novel; it appears to be like a costume drama we have seen before, but very quickly we realise that it’s not that. It’s about a woman coming into her own in a society that’s very patriarchal, it’s about a love affair, it’s about discrimination, and it’s about people trying to survive in an incredibly controlled state. It’s a thriller and it’s also a story about political and emotional awakening.
Marin is a particularly interesting character, I think she has one of the best arcs. When I first read the book, she was the character that stayed with me, and when I read the scripts I immediately remembered everything about her. She’s told in beautiful detail in the novel, which John has retained in the script. Marin is just a great character to play, it was a real treat.
Tell us about Marin.
When you first meet her, because the story is told through Nella’s perspective, you meet a woman who seems very cold and intimidating. Then gradually you get this drip-feed of information about her; you see she’s been helping Johannes run the business and you learn that they were orphaned at a young age. She’s very intellectual, she’s very well read, and she’s not married, which is very unusual at the time.
One of the reasons I found her such a fascinating character is that she’s full of secrets and she’s layered; very conflicted and has great faith, but also passions. The house they live in is essentially a tinder box of secrets that Marin has been sitting on to try and stop the secrets exploding out. However although it seems she is trying to keep a lid on it I think she believes that they could subtly break all the rules and be free within the house at least, if only her brother stopped acting so recklessly.
Hopefully audiences will question what is driving her hostility towards Nella. Marin needs Nella a lot to maintain the appearance of being a normal household but it’s also very important that Nella is afraid of her so that she doesn’t try digging and discovering the secrets that they are all trying to keep – because if anyone finds out then their futures are ruined.
What was it like doing the scenes between Marin and Nella?
I loved working with Anya, she’s an incredibly accomplished actress. She’s got a difficult job in this, because Nella has to be very innocent at the beginning of the story, which is always difficult for an actor to play, and also more innocent that a woman of that age would be now. She’s constantly making discoveries, she doesn’t have the information that the rest of us do so she’s always learning new things, and she’s done that with real beauty and subtlety. I really enjoyed doing all our scenes together.
Tell us about Marin’s costume.
Marin only had one costume until a very late stage of the story. Her costume is typical of the puritan values of the period which rejected anything that smacked of luxury or louche values. They also didn’t wear make-up in this period at all, certainly not women of this class and station, and the hair was very simple and scraped back. Her head would have been covered at all times, so I had a black cap that I wore, but to be honest when I wore it I couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying and also talked incredibly loudly because I couldn’t hear myself, so essentially I was shouting at the other actors!
What makes The Miniaturist stand out from other period dramas?
I’ve done lots of historical pieces but there’s something very unusual about this. When you do contemporary novels set in the past the writers are able to do a lot more, and tackle complex themes which writers writing at the time weren’t able to do. More than that, it’s interesting in that it explores a number of different genres. It has elements of a thriller and then it becomes a family drama and then it becomes a polemic about what happens in societies that are so controlling.
I hope people will sit down to watch the show because it’s a pretty costume drama and will be surprised that it is actually rebellious and constantly bringing up important issues – and that they’ll be so engaged they won’t be able to look away.
Trust Me Interviews: Sharon Small
Interview with Sharon Small, who plays Dr. Brigitte McAdams in new three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs this August on BBC One.
What attracted you to this project?
I liked the character and the premise of the piece – I don’t think we’ve seen this before. And everyone is like an armchair detective, everyone is an armchair actor or doctor, so I thought that people would get off on that and think, gosh what would I do in that circumstance? The audience are the people who are privy to the truth and not us. With my character, Brigitte, I like her neediness, her sassiness – she’s fun and quick-fire talking – and quite honestly I rather fancied myself as a doctor [laughs].
How would you describe your character?
Brigitte is a good person; she’s sassy and is a really good doctor. She has got some issues, but she is trying her best to run this ward and with great intentions, which I think a lot of NHS doctors are.
How did you prepare for the role?
I grew my hair so that I could tie it up – normally I have short hair. We had a fantastic medical training day with Dan and got to do airways and cannulas and stitching and things like that, I loved that. The most important thing for me was to go around the actual A&E department (or ED department as I now know it’s called) in Edinburgh. We met this fantastic doctor – just watching him and really getting to observe what goes on in a ward, the dynamic, what people do and noticing that people are always looking at folders, everyone’s always collaborating and talking to each other. Everyone is always moving around, a lot more than you think and not that quickly. It’s less dramatic than you think.
Is your character challenging to play?
She was. Similarly in something that Jodie mentioned, I had quite a lot of medical jargon to say quite quickly, but I had less of the procedural stuff to do in terms of operational things. As the character is more and more revealed I had to make sure that I took care of how that happened, and that it was subtly done.
What makes a hospital a good arena for a drama?
It’s an ever-changing landscape, a hospital. Every new sort of event that you’re presented with means that you’re having to make life-saving decisions. People’s lives really are at stake, and honestly, my little taste of pretending that I was an ED doctor made me feel quite powerful. If I could fix people so that they survived, that would be an amazing ability.
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?
Saying the medical words Metronidazole – Met-ron-ida-zole, Metron-i-dazole – and trying to make scrubs look even remotely interesting, I don’t rock scrubs like Jodie does, I’m way too curvy for that!
What do you hope audiences will take away from this drama?
I hope that they’ll find themselves in that dilemma of wanting Cath/Ally to succeed, because she’s a good person and she ironically is brilliant at the job. I’m hoping that they’ll see the dilemma that she has, and as you want her to keep succeeding, it means she’s going to keep compromising people as she goes, as well as herself.
Trust Me Interviews: Jodie Whittaker
Jodie Whittaker plays Cath in three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs on BBC One this August.
What appealed to you about this project?
I was sent the script for the first episode and it fascinated me because it went in a completely different direction to how I thought it was going to. Particularly at the beginning when she’s suspended for whistleblowing and loses her job. It could have gone so many ways, and the fact that she takes on this new identity isn’t the way that I thought it would go. I love the fact that her choices are quite morally dubious – they certainly aren’t black and white. She makes decisions that are quite challenging to justify, even though we know her reasons. I’ve never acted in anything medical before, so it felt completely new.
How does Cath’s lie come about?
Cath starts off by having a conversation with her best friend, Ally, who is a middle grade doctor in A&E and is giving it all up to emigrate to New Zealand. Ally is packing up the life that Cath would have loved to have had, leaving it all behind to go and do something completely different. Suddenly there is an opportunity for her to take on the identity of her friend and in that panic, not necessarily the clearest thinking moment in her life, she does it. Once you set off on a path of lies it’s very difficult to undo it without bringing everything crashing down.
Did you receive any training on medical procedures?
Yes! The writer, Dan, who is also medical consultant and a doctor outside of TV production, showed us a load of stuff that he used when he was training people. He brought in the CPR dummy and showed us how to do a cannula and he, very bravely, let me put a cannula in his vein. I did it right, thank God! Also, YouTube is amazing. The genius of the internet is that you can basically sit at home and Google medical procedures, and TV shows such as 24 hours in A&E, which I watched hours of.
How else did you prepare for the role?
With regards to the technical stuff, we had an on-set consultant so that there was always someone to help when we had to do the procedures. The best thing for me was that my character was also out of her depth and didn’t always know what she was doing, so it kind of covered my own personal fumbles. I’m not someone who likes to over prepare for dialogue scenes, because I think that makes me not listen to what the other person is saying as I’ve already decided how I’m going to do it. It immediately makes it interesting and new and you can’t plan for that, which is great. You can’t ‘wing’ the medical stuff so I had to do my research for that. One of my friends is a Sister in A&E and I sent her a lot of messages asking ‘how do you pronounce this?’ and ‘what does that mean?’, so basically she was my personal medical coach even though she works full time!
Is it challenging playing someone who leads a double life?
Yes, but no more challenging that playing someone who has had something happen to them that I haven’t personally experienced. What’s hard is trying to gauge how good a liar she is, or how in a panic she is. You’ve got to be careful, because you can’t make the other actors seem stupid. These are intelligent, fully formed characters that you’re working with, so it was a fine line of being able to deceive and it not being something that comes easily to her. However, it can’t be that it makes everyone around her feel a bit like an idiot for not working it out. That was tricky, but the director is there to help guide you through it.
Did the uniform help to get you into character?
Yes. It feels odd when you put it on. I did five weeks of studio filming, back to back – all the medical stuff was contained so everything started to become a bit like second nature. The first few times I had to put on an apron, the ‘take’ ended up being about 15 minutes long. Then I worked out that you shouldn’t put the gloves on before the apron! There was lots of daft stuff like that, but you then get into a rhythm. It’s good because it makes you immediately feel like you look the part and then all I had to do was make sure that I knew the lines!
What were some of the challenges that you faced during filming?
I’m not very good with learning dialogue when there are lots of medical terms! I enjoy the adrenaline of being on set because I’m quite good at choreography, I respond well to being taught something physically. That’s why I was terrible at school, because they talk you through things rather than physically show you. I enjoyed doing the different types of surgery as it was fascinating, it’s nerve-wracking but you realise that you can do it. Also, the team who created the props put in so much hard work to make sure we didn’t mess up our bits. I struggled with having massive speeches that involved these medical words. I don’t have a brain for that!
Did you enjoy working in Scotland?
I absolutely loved Glasgow! The crew were phenomenal and the city is wonderful. I could move my family up there and we had a great time as there were loads of brilliant restaurants and everyone was lovely. It was brilliant and I would snap up another job there very quickly, although it does get very dark and cold over winter!
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