Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
Nicole • March 13, 2013

Doctor Who sidekick Jenna-Louise Coleman has revealed how Matt Smith told her to watch iconic Hollywood couple Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy to inspire their onscreen chemistry.

Following Matt Smith’s revelation that kissing Jenna Louise Coleman was his favourite Doctor Who moment, Jenna told how the Time Lord actor gave her advice.

She said: “When I started on Doctor Who Matt said to me ‘Watch Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy films!’ We were talking about our dynamic and trying to figure it out, realising we were a double act. It’s trying to find each other’s rhythm. So watching things like Spencer Tracy films really feed into that. Matt always said it’s about physically finding our rhythm. In a way the whole thing is like a dance, and the moment we started dancing together and finding that rhythm is when it worked. When I joined, Caro the producer said to me, ‘This show is really like no other, because you don’t sit down to have a chat, you don’t get to know these characters in that way, you are literally creating a character and creating a relationship as you’re running down a corridor’. You’re always running away from something or running to something, and it’s all about that momentum and that pace.”

Jenna also revealed in SFX magazine that she almost tried for a career as a dancer instead of an actress, but the same skills are helping her on the BBC show’s stunts.

She said: “Dance was my main passion when I was young. It was totally my life from when I was about four years old to when I was doing my A levels. I was doing semi-professional dance school in the evenings until I got to the point where time-wise I had to make a decision, and my evenings were then spent doing play rehearsals with a theatre company, and the dance got less and less. It was a choice that I made. On Doctor Who I’ve had to do all kinds of things where I’m in vortexes and the camera’s moving around you, so it actually comes in really, really handy. And also having an awareness of your body and how it moves. I had to do a bit in the Christmas special where I fell backwards off a cloud. I’ve done quite a few of my own stunts where you’re like falling backwards onto mattresses and things like that. So, yeah, I totally think that I’m a professional stuntperson now.”

The 26-year-old is now taking a break from filming the show and said she is enjoying watching box sets of TV shows and devouring books to “have a breather” from the show.


Nicole • February 22, 2013

Jenna for Evening Standard

Jenna-Louise Coleman is a consummate shape-shifter, which is just as well because the 26-year-old actress is required to play at least three different characters in Doctor Who: a Victorian nanny, the junior entertainment manager of the starship Alaska, marooned on the Dalek Asylum, and a 21st-century London girl. All have different names, different accents and exist in different quantum realities. And in another quantum reality altogether, Jenna-Louise Coleman is the daughter of a joiner from Blackpool, who has successfully morphed into an urban sophisticate who goes to parties with Florence Welch and playwright Polly Stenham and has a leading man for a boyfriend.

‘I was determined to leave Blackpool,’ she explains, sipping fresh mint tea in a Hampstead café, near the flat she shares with three school friends, her Northern accent softened but still audible. She is good at accents, dipping between them as we talk, from the bossy Mary Poppins-ese of Miss Montague, the nanny from the Doctor Who Christmas special, to the 1930s London vowels of Rosie, the aspiring journalist in Stephen Poliakoff’s grand and mannered period drama Dancing on the Edge (not to be mistaken for a celebrity ice-skating show). ‘I much prefer working in an accent. That is always my starting point,’ she says.

The two shows, both appearing on the BBC within two months of each other, are wildly different. Poliakoff is a famously precise and formal writer and director. ‘I spent hours in casting meetings with him, which is unusual. And he asked me to audition for all the different female parts in the show. He hates to miss a trick. I think just the casting process took seven months.’ It was while she was filming Dancing on the Edge that Steven Moffat called her in to audition for the part of Clara Oswin Oswald, the 11th Doctor’s new companion, following Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond. ‘I didn’t really know anything about Doctor Who but Steven really liked that. It meant that when I went into the audition with Matt Smith I could be more spontaneous because I didn’t know him as the Doctor. And the plot seemed to evolve from audition to audition, with more scenes being written, and characters being introduced. There were times when I thought they had no idea what they wanted.’

It is 50 years since the Doctor first whipped out his sonic screwdriver, and it’s an important time to be joining the BBC’s most successful brand. It has just been announced that the 50th anniversary episode will be in 3D, and Jenna-Louise’s multiple Clara Oswin Oswalds have been confirmed for the 2013 Christmas special and series eight. She is aware that life is about to get very strange. ‘I am going to Comic-Con this year. Matt told me that last year someone dressed as a Tardis was sitting in the front row of the audience.’

In Blackpool, cultural thrills came in the form of Ken Dodd’s summer residency at The Grand Theatre. Jenna-Louise’s elder brother Ben is a joiner like his dad (when Keith and Ben visited her on the Doctor Who set in Cardiff they were more interested in the workmanship on the sets than the drama). As a child she did a lot of dance, but when she turned 14 she began to focus on theatre, spending every evening in rehearsals. ‘My poor mum was always missing Coronation Street.’ At 19 she won a part in Emmerdale, playing one half of the soap’s groundbreakingly ‘normal’ lesbian couple, and was delighted to leave Blackpool and move into a flat in a dodgy part of Leeds, even though it broke her mother Karen’s heart to see her youngest go.

After Emmerdale Jenna-Louise won a role in the BBC’s school-set soap Waterloo Road and moved to Hampstead. On both occasions she was about to start auditions for drama school when she was offered a new job, and decided, after she’d finished Waterloo Road, that it was too late for her to be a student. As a result she is an autodidact, starting an Open University course in English literature and researching all her parts assiduously. She often goes to the theatre (tonight she’s off to see Billie Piper in The Effect at the National), her favourite book is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and she would love to play Hedda Gabler.

She and her boyfriend of two years, the Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden, read each other’s scripts and tape each other’s auditions. ‘It is hard not to only talk about acting, but we do try.’ They met in Budapest when she was filming Julian Fellowes’ ITV series Titanic and he was working on Birdsong. ‘Budapest is always full of English actors. When we were there The Borgias and World Without End were also filming, and we’d all go out for drinks in these amazing ruin bars — derelict buildings with bars in the central courtyards.’ Richard was already friends with Matt Smith, and the couple are part of a Primrose Hill scene that includes Polly Stenham and Channel 4’s head of drama Piers Wenger. ‘Richard had a party at the weekend that Matt came to. And Piers has these parties where Florence Welch sometimes performs, which is amazing. I like people who are ambitious about what they are doing, who are successful and interesting.’

Jenna-Louise’s fierce desire to have a life that is more colourful and creative than that of the average girl from Blackpool is palpable, and she is not one to miss an opportunity, sending out audition tapes for parts that she has not even been called in for and dreaming of making her own film one day. ‘What I would really like to do is an adaptation. I like period drama because everyone is so restrained, but they have all these emotions raging underneath.’ She has just found out that this year she will have a three-month break from filming Doctor Who when Matt Smith goes to America to star in Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut How to Catch a Monster and was immediately on the phone to her agent, keen to start setting up meetings to find something to fill the slot. ‘They said, “Just calm down, Jenna.” ’ But I don’t think that is possible for her, not in this quantum reality.


Nicole • January 27, 2013

Fittingly, for an actress who last year debuted as a time- and space-hopping adventurer in Doctor Who, Jenna-Louise Coleman is thinking about multiple universes. She recently saw Constellations in the West End, a play that took on the idea of there being infinite dimensions – other worlds in which everything that can happen does happen. Sitting in a London cafe, she reasons: if parallel worlds exist, there’s one in which I live in Hollywood and play an Australian in a sitcom, cracking terrible jokes about dingoes.

It almost happened: “Even though my Aussie accent is appalling,” says Coleman, 26, who got to the final auditions for the sitcom job, in Los Angeles in 2011, before being called back to England to appear in the ITV drama Titanic. That job opened up a seam of British work – a part in Stephen Poliakoff’s drama Dancing on the Edge, a role in Doctor Who – that hasn’t let up since. The Poliakoff is an ensemble piece about 1930s jazz musicians. Meanwhile, she has made two meaty Doctor Who cameos to date, including a show-stealing appearance at Christmas, and will be the Doctor’s official companion in the next series. Coleman’s character is a woman called Oswin, who exists (uh-oh) across multiple dimensions.

It was all less complicated when she started out. At the age of 11, she went to an open audition in her home town of Blackpool and got a part in the musical Summer Holiday, starring Darren Day. “I played an Italian bridesmaid,” says Coleman, who remembers being paid £30 a week, plus a gift of Debenhams vouchers from Day at the end. At 19, she joined the cast of Emmerdale and for three years played a troublemaker called Jasmine. (Final scene: off to prison for committing murder with a chair leg.) “As a first job I’m grateful for it,” she says. “Though by the end I was quite restless. It was a brilliant experience. But I was ready to leave when I did.”

Post-Emmerdale, things looked bleak. She went six months without work (“There wasn’t any sniffiness in auditions about my soap background – I couldn’t get auditions”) and at one point she tried to get into Rada, unsuccessfully. “It was strange to turn around at 23 and think, I haven’t gone to university, I’ve missed out on that. And, shit, I don’t think I’m ever going to get another job.” She moved to LA to try her luck and ended up doing “two or three auditions a day”, which broke her duck. British jobs followed.

In Poliakoff’s drama, Coleman plays “a steely young girl with an extreme ambition in a man’s world. She wants to be a journalist.” It completes a circle back to her soap days, where at one point her bad-girl character became a tabloid reporter. If there is a parallel world in which Coleman stayed in LA, doing dingo jokes, there’s another in which she hung around on Emmerdale… She’s better off here, no doubt, in our present dimension.


Nicole • December 19, 2012

Jenna-Louise Coleman has already embraced her role as a companion. During a recent interview at BBC America’s Manhattan offices, she offered insight about her character and her relationship with The Doctor, and weighed in on Clara’s soufflé obsession, driving a spaceship, her Bond Girl moment and Christmas traditions.

Can you share a moment when you felt the enormity of stepping into this popular world?
You see “it” everywhere and you’re used to it, like I was used to seeing Matt’s face all over the place. But, when I was auditioning, being sat on the Tube and you see the posters, and it was always like he was pointing at me . … (But) there’s not very much time to analyze as you go. It is only now that I feel like I’ve just been playing with all my mates for the last couple of months, and then suddenly, I’m like, “but people are going to see this,” you know?

What would you like to add to the legacy of the show as Oswin/Clara?
I like that it’s not plain sailing. Like (executive producer Steven Moffat) was saying, it’s not very interesting if you come in and it’s like this friendship straight away. He’s been very clever in creating a mystery, because, no matter what, it’s always going to be hard to bring in somebody else into the show, when Matt, Karen and Arthur started out together, and you’re used to seeing them on screen together.

How would you define your character’s relationship with The Doctor?
I like that she holds her own. You know, The Doctor’s this amazing man, and she’s like, “You know, cool. I think you’re amazing, but so am I.” So, it’s a nice double act.

Has Karen offered advice on joining the show?
She’s been really supportive. … She came to the screening in New York City with Matt, and when Oswin was on screen, she texted me saying it was great. (But) from interviews I’ve seen of Karen, she was saying she didn’t want to, because she wanted me to have my own experience. I did want to be like, “What do I need to know? Tell me everything!” But she’s been really cool about it.

There was never a realized romance between The Doctor and Karen’s Amy, but your character gets flirtatious straight away, right?
It’s been interesting how it’s changed Matt’s Doctor. There is a natural bounce between them, and a flirtation, and attraction. But, again, they’ve always got this friction because they’re a bit magnetic and drawn to each other, but she can’t quite figure him out. He’s got loads of secrets and he’s always looking at her, trying to figure her out.

Can you tell me about the first meeting between you and Matt?
He’s with the same agency as me, so my agent said, “You’re going to be reading with Matt and he’s lovely. He’ll take care of you.” I walked into the room and he’s just like, “Heeeeyyyyy,” and gave me a big hug. He really helped me out in the audition. I’ve read with other actors in auditions before, but Matt really got involved so it was like we were both auditioning together almost.

This is an iconic franchise, but are there other big franchises you’d want to step into?
Totally! I’d love to be a Bond Girl. I did have my Bond Girl moment — well, what I thought was going to be, but it was very much a “Doctor Who” version. Like being on the back of a motorbike, but then we’ve got the goggles and the hat, so it was like “Doctor Who’s” take on James Bond.

Have you played with any cool sci-fi gadgets on the show, like the TARDIS?
There are certain parts of the TARDIS which I love. We’ve got these new kind-of rolly balls, which is my favorite. But my character got to drive the TARDIS at one point!

In the long list of “Doctor Who” monsters, what’s your favorite?
The Weeping Angels. It’s the concept (that they only move when you aren’t looking at them). But there’s one at the end of this season — it’s a new monster, and I’d say you have to wait and see that. That one is my favorite, so far.

One of the things we know about your character is her love of soufflé. Have you tried making one?
I had to be baking one in a scene recently. So I got the Google up and tried to figure out exactly how to do it, take it kind of really seriously to make sure I’ve got, like, the whisking right. But maybe that’s what I should do over Christmas.

Is it odd returning to a “normal” world after living in The Doctor’s?
“This” life is so exciting on a daily basis. Everything’s so dramatic every day, and it’s the end of the world every week. You’re either running or there’s a snow machine or rain machine, or you’re in a harness and you’re on wires. … On an off day, I find that I get bored quickly, like, “Where’s the Cybermen?”

The “Doctor Who Christmas Special” is something of a tradition — do you have others you’ll keep?

There are 13 of my family going to a cottage, so we’ll be there watching. It’s one of my grandmum’s favorite shows, so it’s big for her. But normally I get home from London and I haven’t seen my family for a little while, and me and my mum always wrap the presents the night before with a glass of Bailey’s. That’s my favorite tradition at Christmastime.

What did your grandmother say when she learned you got this role?
I auditioned for Amy’s best mate in it, and was pretty close to getting the part, and my grandma was absolutely devastated I didn’t. So, we came back around, and I don’t think she can believe it, actually. It is quite surreal for her, and she’s quite looking forward to meeting Matt.

What do you anticipate that encounter being like?
My grandma’s going to mess up his hair. She’s going to be patting him and hugging him, and Matt’s going to have really messy hair for the rest of the night.


Nicole • December 18, 2012

Dr Who, aka Matt Smith, and his new assistant companion Jenna-Louise Coleman drop by the Radio 1 Breakfast show and answer listeners questions. Find out how Matt gets his quiff to stay put, what the most annoying question to be asked is and what Dr Who wants in his Christmas stocking!