Nicole • September 16, 2018

THE OBSERVER – The other day Jenna Coleman gave birth for the seventh time. “I feel like my year has been literally maternity bras and pregnancy bumps,” she says over a cup of tea in acafénear her home in north London. “It’s becoming a parody now.” Before you start to worry about the medical anomaly that is Coleman’s uterus, rest assured it was all for the cameras. In real life, the 32-year-old Coleman has yet to have children: “I don’t know if the time is now for me,” she says. Onscreen, however, she has been through a long phase of playing mothers.

She is in the middle of filming the third series of Victoria, the hit ITV drama scripted by Daisy Goodwin in which Coleman plays the titular queen, and “we’re up to the seventh child now, which is just ridiculous”. Victoria ultimately had nine so, she adds, “I’m not out of the woods yet.” And then there’s the forthcoming BBC psychological drama, The Cry, in which Coleman plays Joanna, a young mother in present-day Glasgow, struggling to adapt to the demands of her newborn. Coleman had to pretend to give birth for that as well, screaming and gripping on to the side of the hospital bed with bared teeth and a sweat-drenched face. It was very convincing, I say. “Oh was it?” Coleman asks. “Good.” In order to get into the zone before filming a labour scene, she listens to music by Mumford & Sons. “There’s something about the banjo,” she explains. “I just try to get up a lot of adrenaline and for some reason the banjo and the drums, I think, help. I don’t know…” Has Coleman ever met her fellow actor, Carey Mulligan, who is married to the band’s frontman, Marcus Mumford? “No! Can you imagine if I did and said: ‘Your husband helps my labour scenes?’”

It turns out that giving birth is only the start of the action in The Cry. The four-part series, adapted from the eponymous novel by Australian author Helen Fitzgerald, centres on a shocking tragedy that triggers Joanna’s psychological unravelling. In charting her mental disintegration, the drama seeks to expose the myths and unacknowledged truths of motherhood. It’s a compelling watch, but in a piece so focused on the complexities of being a parent, I wonder if Coleman ever worried about not having children herself. “Yeah. I spent a good first chunk of it just thinking they’d completely miscast – and why on earth me?” she replies. “I’m not a mother! I really kind of hit myself over the head with it. I felt there was obviously something I wouldn’t be able to capture. It was something so… well, primal that I haven’t literally experienced. And I’ve really struggled with that.” She emailed all her friends who had babies asking for insight, and received reams of information in return, “just the kind of day-to-day realities of what it is being a new mum…”

(Read the rest of the interview at the source)


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