Interview: Jodie Comer On Appearing In Alan Bennett's Talking Heads

Jodie Comer plays Lesley in Her Big Chance in the new Alan Bennett series Talking Heads. It airs as part of the new series starting on Tuesday 23 June on BBC One.

Tell us about your experience filming in this unique format?

The biggest adjustment was the stillness. Usually on set there is a lot of chaos and noise, but as there were less people on set due to social distancing rules, it was very peaceful. This took some getting used to. Normally you have to zone yourself out of the noise to focus, but it was so quiet which threw me off balance to begin with.

What made you say yes to Talking Heads?

Alan’s monologues are simply fantastic and I jumped at the chance to bring Lesley to life. It was also a great opportunity to meet Josie Rourke (director) and work with her on this piece. I thought it was a wonderful idea from the BBC to bring audiences new content at this time, and I was itching to get off my sofa and do something creative.

Can you tell us about the preparations for filming that were done remotely?

Josie and I would FaceTime every morning for three or so hours and rehearse (with tea and banana breaks.) We realised that bananas are the secret weapon to keeping my brain free from distraction. Josie has an incredible eye for detail so we spent a lot of time thinking about Lesley and who she was, her experiences and what the people in her story may look like/sound like. Filling in the gaps of what wasn’t on the page. I found that having these images and ideas not only helped with remembering the lines but also enabled me to find instinctual reactions. We had mood boards and a fabulous 80s playlist for inspiration.

Later on in the process we had a group FaceTime with Naomi [Donne, hair and make-up designer] and did a makeup test, which was so much fun. Going through the routine of what Lesley would do of a morning, when she’s off to one of her big auditions! It really allowed me to feel like I was a part of the creative process.

Tell us about Her Big Chance…

Lesley is an actress, an incredibly passionate and determined one at that. She believes she has found her biggest opportunity yet and through the piece is telling the audience of how the job came about. Starting from how she got the audition to how she feels now it’s all over. Only the question that hangs over it all is what type of ‘film’ she has in fact taken part in...

Why do you think Talking Heads has resonated with viewers throughout the years?

I think they are so beautifully intimate. There is a lot to be said for the relationship a person can have with a piece of drama. The direction to camera makes the audience feel special, almost as if the character is having a private conversation with the viewer alone. The emotions and subject matters these characters are experiencing are so complex and nothing is always what it seems, which is exciting for an audience, it keep them on their toes.

 

Interview supplied by BBC. 

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