Interview: Cara Theobold, Co-Star of Crazyhead

Cara Theobold, who played Ivy in Downton Abbey, is one of the stars of E4's forthcoming comedy-meets-horror demon-hunting series Crazyhead. Here she talks about the series, her role in it and much more.

Crazyhead starts in October on E4.

 

 

 

How would you describe Crazyhead?

Crazyhead is set in a very real world where crazy things happen. Amy has always seen things that other people can’t see and has been given medication for it. We start the series where she comes off her medication and that’s a big deal for her. But her visions start coming back, and we slowly discover in this first episode that these are in fact real. So this very normal world gets spun on its head and now we’re in world where demons exist. Then Amy meets Raquel, who is a self-made demon hunter, and the series is essentially these two girls coming together, finding their way, fighting for their lives to basically save the world!

How would you describe Amy?

When we first meet Amy she’s stuck in a bit of a rut. She’s working at a bowling alley, she’s not particularly fulfilled but is kind of ok with that. She’s living in the safety of not taking any risks in life and relying on her best friend Suzanne, who she lives with and who looks after her. When the main action starts and she’s forced to fight and make decision and be brave, she finally comes into her own and finds out just how strong she is. She does things she never dreamt she would ever do. It’s been great to play a character who goes from such extremes. Also the partnership and the making of the team of Amy and Raquel is integral to this story because both characters go on a journey and find the other side of themselves. Susie (Wokoma, who plays Raquel) and I had a really great time taking these two girls through it. The story goes to places a normal domestic drama doesn’t go to, so much happens in one episode, and I don’t think I’ve ever done a job where you can really go to the extremes of the characters like that.

What does Amy first make of Raquel, and how does their friendship evolve?

At the beginning Amy’s very wary because Raquel is larger than life, and Amy is going through this difficult time – but then she also believes that there is something real about what she’s been seeing. She meets someone who tells her that they are real. Raquel confirms it in such an assured and matter-of-fact way that instantly Amy’s a bit defensive about the whole thing. But with the demons coming to get Amy, and then her best friend becoming involved, she has to quickly adapt and join Raquel in this crazy journey. Then once she’s on board their relationship develops more as Amy has to save Raquel. At the start she thinks Raquel’s mad, but knows that if Raquel’s mad then she’s mad too.

How do they go about hunting demons, can you share any tricks of the trade?

Raquel’s been doing this for years, is a self-made demon hunter and is quite inventive in her tactics. With Amy everything happens so quickly and in such a short space of time she’s just forced to act in the moment. She’s so impulsive and discovers she has this fighting instinct that she never knew she had. She’s very creative in the weapons she uses, she’ll literally grab anything. I used one of the penguins little kids use at an ice-rink to smack a demon about with, I beat another up with a rolling pin…

How is it acting that sort of thing, was there a lot of action and stunts involved?

We had an amazing stunt team. There was a lot of stunts and fighting which was really good fun. We had a great team of demon henchman who were really good at letting us beat the shit out of them! I do so much running in the show, luckily I run anyway but we had a joke on set about me being really fast. Our chief grip would be trying to keep up and saying ‘can you just take the edge off the speed’. But that’s all fun, I love that sort of stuff. I think because it’s a dark comedy, a lot of the action has a glint in the eye. It’s an homage to action films and superheroes and comic book style.

How was it acting opposite the demons?

We had loads of green screen. I’d never done it before so it was a great new experience. We had a lot of stuff in cars that we’d green screen, car chases. With the demons themselves, we’d work with the actor and they’d do a take where they had green marking dots on their face so the amazing FX team can put their demon faces on afterwards. I’ve seen some of the stuff and it’s really scary.

Can you tell us any of the weirder things you had to do?

I wee on people quite a bit! To do an exorcism you have to wee on them in this world, it’s one of the things amongst speaking Latin and burning hair. That was funny on the first day. Obviously I don’t actually wee and it’s not graphic at all – you just see my face! But that’s a funny way to start the shoot – it was jumping in the deep end of what the series is, very dark and scary but the humour just cuts through it. I also did some wire-work on the green screen shooting me falling. There’s a crane winching me up and dropping me – that was all really exciting.

What can you tell us about Amy’s love-life?

Amy’s love-life at the start of the series is pretty non-existent. I think it’s because she’s self-preserving, she’s been through a lot, she’s estranged from her mum, and has dealt with feeling different her entire teen years. With everything going on she quickly becomes more confident. She meets Tyler, Raquel’s brother, and instantly there’s a massive attraction there. In the whirlwind of everything that happens they get together and that’s a great moment for Amy, not being scared and doing what she wants. Jake is Amy’s best mate from school and they work together. He’s always been a bit in love with her but she pays no attention to that. He’s a bit of a dickhead but really good fun, and they’ve always hung out, but she doesn’t see him in that way at all. But as things really kick off action-wise she realises just how loyal Jake is as a friend, he’ll literally do anything for her. So their friendship really deepens. Rather than him just being a friend who drives them everywhere, she realizes just how important he is to her.

How does filming this compare with something like Downton?

It’s completely different! Obviously it’s set in the modern day and the supernatural world, and we’re in more places than just one location. It’s about playing a modern day girl who can do anything, the sky’s the limit, whereas in Downton Abbey I was playing a young girl whose job as a servant was pretty much all she had hoped for.

Are you a fan of this genre?

I’m a really big fan of comic book stuff and superheroes. I’ve never been a big fan of horror, so the fact this is comedy and much more action is good. The whole supernatural thing lets you go further with what can happen in the storyline. There are less limits.

Did you watch anything in preparation before you started?

I watched Thelma and Louise! That was one of the things I watched in terms of two friends out on a big journey together which has a mixture of high peril and comedy – obviously it’s very different.

What did you think about Howard’s work that stands out?

He’s so incredibly inventive. Every script took me by surprise. When we all got the next block of scripts we were all messaging each other to say ‘I can’t believe you get to do that!’ He’s just so funny and takes risks and is not cautious in any way, and that’s what comedy should be. And he’s written two amazing, really fully well-rounded female characters. For Susie and I to be able to play these characters – it’s nothing to do with the fact they’re girls, it’s beyond that, it’s ‘of course, why not?’ – there’s no limits on them. In that respect, to be able to play that, I feel very lucky.

 

 

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