WEARING PAUL & JOE
Photography & Styling by Jemima Marriott
With thanks to 223 Agency
Hi Joanna where are you at the moment?
Right this second, I’m in my bed. Which was only assembled a couple days ago because I’d just moved house. So it is a delight not to be sleeping on the floor!
Let’s chat about your new show ‘Crime’ created by Irvine Welsh, where you play co-lead opposite Dougray Scott- is it hard to navigate a role in such a gritty and raw series?
Actually, it was a dream come true. Irvine Welsh is an icon, so to be part of the world he’s created which so many people are familiar with was a thrill. My teenage self thinks I’m pretty cool now. Drummond also has a specific role to play in the drama – she is thrown in at the deep end with Lennox; the way he works, his attitudes. So, my journey was pretty well defined – for Drummond to do her job she had to learn about Lennox in the same way the audience does.
“I try to be kind. I try to understand. I’m curious”
How did you prepare for your role as Amanda Drummond? Did you research any real life crimes?
Yes definitely. I was reading all about serial killers, but your mind tries to protect itself, you start off thinking “oh my gosh, this man killed 7 people that’s awful” and eventually you’ve read so much, become so numb, you realise you’re thinking “huh, 75 women… that’s not that many” while munching on your toast… but the really awful child-murderers those never became normalised, that stuff was incredibly disturbing. I always wanted to keep Drummond as real as possible, that was my challenge. I didn’t want her to be a caricature, so connecting to the material emotionally allowed me to access that empathy for the scenes.
Even though the material is pretty dark, did you have a positive experience working on set?
Honestly, it was hilarious. There was one day when Ken Stott has to react to Lennox’s interview and we could hear him from the interrogation room, he was squeaking and sputtering and we all corpsed. I also love filming in Scotland. It is honestly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The people are such characters.
Has filming ‘Crime’ given you any lessons you will take into your next role?
It’s hard to know what you take with you. The role I played right after was a woman on the other side of the law in The Control Room for BBC. She is completely different – out-of-control, anxious, desperate… there were few similarities. But that’s the joy of my job, I get to explore the psychology of so many different types of people and bring them to life. I get to shout at people in the street or in a car park or arrest someone or be arrested myself. I get to have these extremes in life which mean I don’t chase them in my personal life.
“We were so close to the audience, holding them in our hands, taking them on this journey. It was magical. I can’t wait to get back on stage.”
What made you decide to become an actor and how old were you when you got the spark of inspiration?
I was like 6 years old. I got to play the witch, Nellie, in Tam O’Shanter. She’s the head witch who chases after this drunken interloper and grabs his horses tail as he leaps over a burn to safety. Age 6. Those games were way more exciting than anything I’d ever done or seen or heard of. I guess I’ve been chasing that high ever since!
Earrings: Aloë Earrings
What did you do to make this dream a reality?
I worked really, really hard. I went to the local youth theatre class, I went to Scottish and National youth theatre, I went to Saturday classes at RWCMD (as it was called then) every weekend. I took dance lessons, I went to the theatre, I studied Higher and Advanced Higher Drama in school. Then I auditioned for drama schools, like, all of them – partly because I didn’t know enough about each school to know which one was right for me. But fate played a hand in sending me to RWCMD, where I met casting director Emma Style and landed my first role age 19. But again, the whole time I was filming The Runaway I was thinking “this could be the last time, you better take it all in, and work your butt off”. I cried my eyes out when we wrapped because I honestly believed I’d never work again.
Out of all the characters you’ve played -which role have you found the most challenging?
I played Milly in The Dazzle, a play by Richard Greenberg. I was acting opposite David Dawson and Andrew Scott, so the bar was incredibly high. The work was a joy to unravel, there was just so much in the text to find and play with and it was imperative to pitch the emotion just right. We were so close to the audience, holding them in our hands, taking them on this journey. It was magical. I can’t wait to get back on stage.
“I grew up watching American tv shows so America has always seemed so cool to me, a little girl from Scone, Scotland”
At Cool America we are big believers in paying forward, what do you do every day to make a difference to this world, little or large?
Love this. Well, I don’t eat animals or use animal products. I donate to Greenpeace, Centre Point and Friends of the Earth, I volunteer with Arts Emergency, and I buy all my groceries from packaging free stores…
Aside from acting, what makes you tick?
My dog, Dame Judy Dench. Reading. Good food. And seeing my friends.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
I don’t have a lot of that right now. but I started learning the violin – it’s REALLY hard. I am producing a few things and writing too, so any spare time I have right now is dedicated to that. Also, unpacking into the new house, which is a much longer process than I bargained for!
What’s your favourite outfit?
This blue and grey pencil skirt and open backed top by Victoria Beckham I wore to the InStyle party a few years ago. I love her designs and have worn them to a few things. She is a champion of British talent and I have a lot of respect for her.
What do you find cool about America?
It has so many stories to tell. Because it’s so vast, so varied, the people and their experiences are intriguing to me. I grew up watching American tv shows so America has always seemed so cool to me, a little girl from Scone, Scotland.
And finally tell us what’s cool about you?
I try to be kind. I try to understand. I’m curious. I’m quick to laugh. And I wear pink eyeshadow.
Irvine Welsh’s Crime is available to watch exclusively on BritBox