Why did you want to get involved with the series?
It was Lucy’s scripts, reading them and being slightly terrified of them! They allow you to make up your own mind about porn, the themes and subject matters and characters involved, so by the end you’re going: I don’t know how I feel about that, but at least I know this, this and this. We talked at the audition and I came out feeling so excited, about where the journey could go and who the character was. Having read all four scripts, there’s no way an actor wouldn’t want to go on that ride from where she begins to where she ends up, and it’s different to any part I’ve played before.
Who is Jolene/Hayley?
Jolene Dollar is Hayley’s industry persona, the UK’s top porn star and one of the top MILFs in the world. She’s dominated the UK porn scene for the last decade. Hayley Burrows is the woman behind Jolene, the mum at home, running a business with all these plates spinning. She’s the lone breadwinner, taking care of her three children and trying to raise them right.
Did you have a Hayley mode and a Jolene mode?
Not really. For her it’s so blurred, as it’s all about the relationships with people. It comes back to her ability to be in control of her life, be powerful, not be taken advantage of and be taken seriously. She’s Jolene and we see her in character looking after these girls, then under that there’s this sandpaper working away at the back of her head, going: what’s reality, who am I, where am I going to be as I get older? She realises a lot of it is bullshit.
How would you describe her connection with Amy?
At first, she thinks: I’m a MILF, I run this game. Then she admits to Rich that she’s jealous of this beautiful young woman. It makes her feel less attractive, it’s that sandpaper going at her
again: what does my life look like when I’m not in charge and don’t have this attention and money?
What sort of marriage does she have with Rich?
It’s interesting. I think they have a very loving relationship, they have kids and have been together so long, there’s an understanding of the industry. Being a romantic, I side with the idea of life infiltrating this beautiful relationship and mutating it into this strange thing where he’s working for her, doing her social media and taxes and so on. But he’s not going to work and has let himself go…
How is her relationship with Carroll?
Rupert and I talked about this a lot – she met Carroll in her late teens or early twenties, when she’d already had her first child, Phoebe. They understood each other, shared sensibilities and sense of humour. They partied together a lot when they were younger, they’re co-dependent and loyal to each other because they’ve made each other successful, but underneath that are these hidden cracks and mistrust.
Was she an easy character to relate to?
Where she comes from and what she’s trying to do, definitely: she’s come from not having had many opportunities and tried to thrive. I don’t necessarily understand the mindset of it, but it fascinates me to this day, the physical and mental act of doing that job. And when she became a mother, that’s what her life is about, giving her children the best opportunities possible and protecting them.
How did you approach the sex scenes?
We did rehearsals – the majority of my sex scenes are with Joe and we’ve known each other for eight years, so we already had a level of trust and understanding. We rehearsed with Dawn and Yarit Dor, our intimacy coordinator. Yarit protected us and choreographed them so each scene told a story, I always felt comfortable and respected.
How helpful was it to have Rebecca More as a consultant?
She’s brilliant. She’s been in the porn industry for a very long time and has a million stories to tell. She’s intelligent, sensitive and very aware of the outside world’s view of the porn industry, She’s seen every element of the porn industry and has no blinkers on – she told us the facts and was very sensitive to what we were trying to do as we were to depicting a world she knows.
How much did you know about this world?
I didn’t have a negative opinion of the industry; I’d always wondered about how women felt being involved and the focus of it. I had an idea of how they shot things, that it’s not just two people on set having sex. But the level of bureaucracy behind it, the amount of money involved, these headquarters that could look like Google and YouTube from the outside, the idea of how money trumps everything... That was quite shocking.