So here is Ijmuiden in Holland, the location for my recent job, the feature film Time will tell. It stars the hugely talented Louisa Connolly Burnham as Kim and I play Joanne, her Mum, with whom she has a tricky relationship with to say the least. It’s a gripping story of Kim, a teenager, who tries to unravel and understand her past, switching between different times not without major obstacles along the way. I have to say it was one of the most pleasurable, creative shoots I’ve been on in long time. Tonnie Dingens, our director made it a very collaborative process where the actors felt valued and included on decision making. Moving away from what I call my ‘washing powder mum’ roles ( though let it be said I am hugely grateful for the adverts and err…here’s to another years buy out, bleach anyone?), I finally got to play a mother that is not a stereotypical commercial ‘nurturer’. She doesn’t wash up. We never see her ironing. There’s maybe one tiny folding scene but not a hoover in sight. She’s complex, exposes dark corners of her soul, shows the less attractive facets of her personality and the mother daughter relationship is complicated, changeable, not something you can pin down and categorize. It’s INTERESTING. I’ve made a damn good job of looking like I care about the cleanliness of my house on the telly, but I had more in common with this character in terms of my domesticity, not the other stuff she gets up to….but then, for that, you’ll have to wait for the film, duh duh DUUUH!! Time – will – tell! I think the film will do really well with a wide universal appeal and hope it gets the airing it deserves. Everyone cast and crew worked bloody hard, that’s for sure. You can follow it @TWT_Movie, or here https://www.facebook.com/TimeWillTellMovie?fref=ts ( Look at me getting all on it now with the self promotion etc – I have no shame.
It was also strange being away from the kids for ten days. I don’t think I’ve spent that long away from them since they were born and had to re- learn to be in my own space without demands being made. It wasn’t hard at first. Being bored in your own company is not a problem when you’ve had kids. You can kill hours wandering around an airport happier than you’ve been in ages . A delay? Oh never mind, I’ll just get another coffee. Longer delay? Never mind, I’ll go and have another look at the selection of Dutch gin in duty free ( I can recommend the orange blossom one) . Yes, it’s nice for a few days to hear your own heartbeat again and eat what the hell you like, watch what you want, and In Amsterdam on my day off, I savoured going to the Van Gogh museum again and just looking, staring, uninterrupted. But as I gazed at one of his late paintings the Wheatfield under Thunderclouds, this:
I missed them like hell. I wanted them to see it, be inspired as I was when I first saw his paintings. I realised that the person I was who came here seventeen years ago is not the person I am now and I’m happy to be getting older and to have experienced all those things in between then and now. I’m happy with how life changes you, makes some things more important than others, how priorities shift and how I’m far less inward looking than I was then ( She says, writing a blog…look at me..look at me!). Anyway, needless to say, with them in mind, I clocked where the gift shop was having soaked up those bright colours again, and bought a stupid amount of memorabilia. A collection of chocolates wrapped in mini Van Gogh paintings , a few pencils…sunflower bookmarks, key rings, and lets not forget something for the big one too – the husband ( he’d be upset if he didn’t get something.) He got a print, that I secretly like, but pretended was for ‘us’ ( come on we’ve all done that haven’t we?) I looked forward to handing over the goody bags from my adventure and imagined some soft focus reunion on the train platform. I actually had a delayed nine hour journey home thanks to great Western trains and we drank a lot of the Gin I’d bought when I eventually got to Devon, but the reunion was still special. So I’d left the museum for the second time in my life, this time alone, but knowing that when I got on that plane home after the shoot I would be returning to a place where I am very much loved, especially with a bag of chocolates…and Gin.
So with Easter fully taken up with the filming with a few days spare to clamber over the moors in Devon, my next adventure was to re visit that infamous ‘Pink Lady’ yes, Jennifer Wilson in the episode of Sherlock I did five years ago in ‘A study in pink’. I was invited to take part in the convention ‘Sherlocked’ at Excel. I had no idea how such a small part could have such an impact and in all the years that I’ve been acting and the many roles I’ve played, who knew that one little, dead pink lady would be in demand? I was very grateful for the work but felt nervous at what to expect, it being the first convention I’ve taken part in. What if I had to re – create my death and spend another two days admiring people’s shoes like I did with the filming? What if I felt I constantly needed to remind people that it was a bigger part that got cut? Or that my vocal surgery months before had made my confidence plummet and this was the first job I’d decided to do after it those five years ago? I needn’t have worried. It was one great big Sherlock love fest. I actually felt like a celebrity for 48 hours. This may never happen again. When would I ever be signing pink suitcases again? I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy the attention and of being ‘visible’, appreciated, even ironically for being ‘dead’. I’ve had to put on such a tough exterior of late so it was actually very cathartic to be greeted with huge smiles and throw an equally big one back. It must get tiring if you’re promoting all the time and meeting lots of people and having to be on form, but for me, the average jobbing actor, and as my children will tell you, I talk to everyone anyway ( sometimes to their embarrassment) it was genuinely good fun.
It was overwhelming how many people came and I was humbled by the huge fan base it has. It’s no surprise, as even if I hadn’t taken part in the production, I am a huge fan myself and think it has been produced, written and directed with such intelligence, humour and inventiveness. But wow! There were SO many people there and I signed loads of autographs. Once I’d got over the indignity of signing a photo of my backside in a pink coat with pale legs, I had a great laugh. I loved it when people really went for it with the costumes and had this amazing photo taken with Coslocked.
And so Monday was back to normal. And back to thinking of the next acting job. And also back to the great team at the Step restaurant where I also work. Life is diverse at the moment, that’s for sure. I’ve just had some new photos that are on this website with the Brilliant Ric Bacon http://www.ricbacon.co.uk/ that will hopefully assist in whatever the next chapter is and then I must get back to writing. We find out about our Grants for Arts funding next week for our show, ‘Can you hear me running’ so we’re crossing everything for that.
And I think its only fitting to leave you with the pink lady. Here she is balanced on the most beautiful flowers I was given by the team organising sherlocked.
I guess there really are no small parts…well not if you’re in Sherlock. Thanks for having me.