Why did you want to get involved with Adult Material?
Straight away I thought it was a great script. The audition came at a time when I was busy so I worried I wouldn’t have time to fully prepare for the audition, and I wanted to get it right, and do it justice. As soon as I read it I wanted to be involved. Also, I’d never played a part like Stella before.
How would you describe Stella?
Stella is a high achiever; she’s a barrister and an MP. She’s ambitious and passionate; she wants social justice and betterment for people. She takes it all on and weathers the hypocrisies required for a life in Parliament, burying things she thinks won’t serve her political career, then it all falls apart. Plus, she’s sharp and funny – I loved the balance of drama and humour.
Would you vote for her?
I would, she’s right in my demographic. I see myself in her. I don’t see myself in the current cabinet.
Was she an easy character to relate to?
Yeah – she’s very down to earth and grounded. I liked honesty. Stella see’s everyone in their box, so she can fight for the goodies against the baddies, but Jolene is complex and flawed, and it drives Stella mental. Stella is a rescuer, a crusader, a moral missionary who wants to save and protect people, but Jolene doesn’t want to be saved. And there’s a bit of chemistry between them.
Stella even features on a panel with Joan Bakewell.
That was great. I’d wondered if we’d slightly improvise that scene, but with a script this good you really don’t want to get it wrong. And Joan knew a lot about the debate over pornography.
What did you think of Lucy’s take on the industry?
It doesn’t tell you what to think or offer any answers. With things you can’t fix, the least you can do is open up dialogue. This offers a conversation that wasn’t happening before.
What kind of research did you do for the role?
Adult Material really looks at class, and I’d not seen anyone with my accent playing a barrister on TV. I had to legitimise that for myself. I wanted to imagine a career route for a working-class woman into that area of work. One of the dads at my kids’ school is a barrister and there were a few bits of jargon I didn’t understand, so I ran them past him. He talked me through it and I asked, because he’s quite posh, whether you’d even see someone like me in a job like that? He said: absolutely.
What have been the most challenging aspects of filming this?
There was a lot of legal jargon. We did the big courtroom scene in my first week and it was really verbose. I was looking forward to playing a barrister with a wig on but the challenge was to make this dense legal speak sound authoritative and natural to me.
Is this making a judgment on people who watch porn?
It never felt moralistic, but it looks at two realities. If you just make a agitprop feminist piece saying, “don’t watch porn”, that’s not realistic. Society likes to talk about self-realization, or meritocracy and this show is asking: how much movement do some people really have? Can Jolene really be what she wants to be?