Interview with Gemma Whelan for The End of the F***ing World
Your new show certainly has an arresting title. Explain a bit about the subject matter.
It's a coming of age, darkly comic, road trip story which follows James and Alyssa, two disillusioned teenagers on an existential journey which will leave them forever changed as they battle with everything from sociopathy to first love, and their fierce desperation to belong somehow to something or someone without conforming - and these two do not conform, finding themselves tangled in ever more complicated situations from which they have to keep running. It's deadpan and moving and fantastically written by Charlie Covell and the two leads (Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden) are astonishingly good in it.
Who do you play?
I play DC Eunice Noon, a very keen detective trying to track down James and Alyssa.
She’s part of a detective duo that have a slightly complex relationship, isn’t she?
She is indeed! No spoilers!
What attracted you to the role?
Eunice is a bit odd, she's funny, smart and imperfect and I liked how she came across on the page - the script is superb. I'd also always wanted to play a detective.
The subject matter is seriously dark – did you have any misgivings about that?
Not at all. It's important to explore all aspects of humanity...and existential teenage angst and the fallout from terrible decisions makes for very interesting, darkly funny watching.
It’s based on a series of comic books. Did you read them?
I did! They're fantastic - smart, sparse and incredibly rich all at once. Little dialogue with plenty of space to read between the lines. Really intelligent writing and great illustrations.
Did you do anything else in the way of research?
I spoke at length to Jonathan Entwistle - the director of block one, who has been attached to the show from day one, 4-5 years ago and knows the scripts and comics inside out. He had real vision and understanding of the world and the characters and how he wanted it to look and feel. I also spoke to Charlie Covell, the script writer all about Eunice Noon as she's not in the comic books, she's Charlie's creation. I wanted to know all about her from Charlie's point of view.
Have you ever played a cop before?
No this was my first.
How did you find working with Wunmi?
Wunmi is an amazing woman. Such fun to work with, we live very near each other so we travelled to and from work in the same car, we got to know each other really well and had a great time shooting our funny little cop duo.
Alex and Jessica, are quite remarkable, aren’t they?
They really are! Such super talented, funny, interesting people, I loved working with them.
Is it odd, moving from such a massive production to something more modest?
Not at all. I don't see things that way. If it's an exciting and interesting project I couldn't give a hoot about production size.
How does DC Noon measure up to Yara Greyjoy? Who’s a more formidable opponent?
I don't fancy Eunice's chances in an axe throwing contest, but neither do I fancy Yara's detective skills...!