- Episode billings
- Interview with Lesley Sharp who plays Hannah Laing
- Interview with Vincent Regan who plays Billy Murdoch
- Interview with Kazia Pelka who plays Dubravka Mimica
- Interview with Isabella Knopfler who plays Bianca Mimica
- Interview with Patrick Gibson who plays Christian Radic
- Interview with Priyanga Burford who plays Nicky Harris
- Interview with Carolina Giametta the Director
Hannah and Billy join forces once again to try to uncover the leak at Police HQ in Bristol. Dubravka is joined by her nephew Goran and comes under pressure from the family in Zagreb to shift the drugs. Meanwhile, Christian and Bianca find that their Costa Rican hideout isn’t as safe as it seems….
Against her will Bianca is reunited with her mother Dubravka and quickly becomes a prisoner in her own home. Christian tries to get back to the UK undetected to save her. Hannah and Billy have uncovered the mole and struck a deal with him to reveal all before Dubravka can intervene.
Hannah and Billy begin to suspect they can’t trust their boss Chief Superintendent Kane. When they discover Bianca is back but alone, Hannah fears the worst for her son Christian but Billy reveals a plan to keep him safe. The race is on to get to Christian before the Mimicas can.
Hannah and Billy hunt for the rat that betrayed them and finally make a break-through in the case – this time their boss Kane is prepared to listen and is in for a shock. However, the closer they get to finally bringing down the Mimicas, the more danger they find themselves in.
The police close in on the Mimicas and Nicky Harris in Bristol. Each fiercely determined to secure a better future for their families, the war between Hannah and Dubravka reaches a bloody conclusion.
Interview with Lesley Sharp who plays Hannah Laing
Why did the first series strike such a chord with viewers?
Underpinning the crime genre in this case is something very elemental to do with family, mothers and sons, mistakes in parenting, losing touch with your child emotionally and spiritually, and how that impacts everything else. The Greeks wrote about mothers losing their children and the havoc that wreaks – that dynamic touches all of us. The backbone of this series is still a police genre format, but the stakes are incredibly high because behind it are two mothers who will fight to the death for their sons, which is what a lot of women are doing for their children at the moment. Often on TV drama, they're portrayed as people who wash socks, make appointments, do school runs, all those wonderful, banal, loving things for their children, when they will also fight like wild animals to save and protect them. That is where we're seeing both Hannah and Dubravka.
Does Hannah recognise in Dubravka a mirror image?
Yes, I think they both do. Both are riven with guilt and, to greater and lesser degree, in touch with where they've gone wrong as parents. They’re having to face up to some really difficult home truths and pay the price for getting things wrong. Nothing is easy, which was a fantastic opportunity and challenge as an actress: it's a really tumultuous depiction of what it can be like to be a parent, as opposed to the nice stuff.
Hannah is finishing off therapy at the start of this series. Was she dragged into that kicking and screaming, or prepared to examine herself a little at this stage?
Series one showed that she is both a flawed mother and really good at her job. By the end of that, she has killed a young man and her son has had to go into hiding, so she has plenty to process. The therapy has been provided by the police department, so they can be certain that she's capable and competent and stable. Her focus, though, is on Christian (Patrick Gibson) and shutting the Mimicas down.
Working together seems to have brought her closer to Christian personally, but physically, they're further apart than ever…
It’s another element of tragedy: at the end of series one, you see a move towards reconciliation and understanding, a mutual respect and a joining of spirits, because they have shown one another how much they love and care for one another. Then they are torn asunder and can’t even communicate because Christian is in hiding. There's grief there because she wants nothing more than to be with her son, but the only way that can happen is if the Mimicas are no longer a threat.
Is there a big difference in terms of the job Hannah is meant to be doing and the job she’s actually doing?
Someone within the police department is feeding information to the Mimicas, and at the end of series one, she is tasked with finding out who that is. But it's getting to a point where it's just going on and on and they're not getting any closer, so the decision is made to sideline it, which means she is back working closely again with her old mate, Billy (Vincent Regan). They are utilising all the facilities he can get his mitts on, because he doesn't work within the aegis of the police so they can go slightly more rogue.
What makes Hannah and Billy such a good team?
Well, they’ve both been around the block! When you get to a point in life where you're not as impulsive, not as driven by ego or desires or impulses, you're able to have a really good look at yourself and who you are, then you meet someone else in that place – they recognise in each other a fellow traveller, someone at the same stage of life. There is a shared seam of difficult experience that only certain people will understand or be able to tolerate, so that connection between the two of them grows over the course of series two.
What do you particularly enjoy about stepping into Hannah’s shoes?
The opportunity to present a middle-aged woman with real agency because often in TV drama, that's given to men and women are the cheerleaders. It's great to be representing a sector of society that I belong to and absolutely recognise, because a lot of the middle-aged women I know aren't wearing elasticated waists and drinking sherry at five o'clock, stroking a cat. We're still out there, still doing it, still thinking, still getting frustrated, still being brilliant at our jobs.
You have some great action sequences once again – do you do your own stunts?
Oh yes, I did it all! All the driving, all the running, the scene at the swimming pool with all the spoilers! Learning how to hold and fire a gun properly… I really enjoyed it. I don't think I'd ever go as far as Tom Cruise and jump off mountains, but it's great to run around a bit and say “Put your hands in the air” or “Freeze!”.
Was filming easier this time, given Covid regulations were a little more relaxed?
Yes, it was divine. We were in and around Brussels, then we came to Bristol for a couple of weeks. The first time Brussels was kind of closed down, like any other city in the UK, and the shops and restaurants weren't really open. This time, it was a real pleasure to be in the city with some free time.
What did Carolina Giammetta bring as director for series two?
She and I both worked years ago on Mike Leigh’s Naked, although our paths never crossed until it was all over. I always respected Carolina as an actress and bumped into her a couple of times over the years but I didn't know she’d transitioned to being a director – and she's an amazing director. She really galvanised the crew, because it was a difficult shoot with long hours and lots to do in a very short space of time. She had everybody with her and rooting for the production and gave us actors clever, subtle notes, encouragement and validation.
Which themes does the second series delve into?
The joy of being able to do another series of anything is that you know your character and what you're working with, so you can really push into all of the things that worked in the first series, and push the things that weren't as important to one side. The first series was also a recreation of a very successful Swedish television series, but this second series takes our story further forward and bears scant resemblance to the Swedish version. It’s more of what we all loved about series one!
Might you come back for more?
Well, it's quite compulsive, isn't it? If this one goes well and people engage with it, I think everybody would be up for pushing forward with more.
Interview with Vincent Regan who plays Billy Murdoch
Is Billy a slightly more open book this year?
I think so. He suffered a near-death experience last series then, like Lazarus, rose back up for the denouement where they killed Davor (Toni Gojanovic). The fact that he spent time in a hospital bed and connected with another human being as much as he connected with Hannah (Lesley Sharp) means he’s pressed the reset button and tried to work out his priorities in life. He's realised that his priority is to protect Hannah, to try and keep her safe both physically and guide her through psychologically turbulent waters now Christian (Patrick Gibson) has had to flee the country. He might be looking for an exit strategy to his career and might have seen it with Hannah.
There’s clearly chemistry there.
Yeah. We talked before we started filming about how far we would go with it. Sometimes an audience likes to watch a show thinking two people would be great together, but they never quite do it. They're both reaching the end of their operational careers, which is what's really great about the show – some of the protagonists are in their fifties. He wants to get the right outcome by keeping Christian and Hannah safe and taking down the Mimicas, but he's also looking at his life in the long term.
The series is in many ways about family, yet we know very little about Billy’s situation.
He mentions in series one that he has a son by a previous partner, then it all fell apart. Being a soldier in Special Forces, he’s been all around the world seeing and doing some very nasty things, then self-medicated with alcohol so, coming back to the UK, he was probably quite difficult to live with. Add in the death of his oldest friend and no wonder he hit the wall and completely lost his shit. His submarine hit the bottom then slowly has found its way to the surface. That's what puts him in an ideal position to help Hannah: he can see her boat sinking so he tries to keep it afloat.
You’ve talked in the past about Before We Die drawing on elements of Greek drama. Does that continue in the second series?
I think it gets stronger. It becomes mother against mother, which is very Greek and also very James Cameron, like Ripley and the Alien Queen. You're in that realm and an audience can get that.
How do you enjoy the action sequences for Billy?
It wasn't as intense as it might have been, although I'm not getting any younger! It was also that really hot summer and they were designing costumes before they checked the weather forecast, so we were in jumpers, like Brussels sprouts slowly boiling away… But the trickiest part was coming back after a couple of years, especially with no big break in the timeline of the show itself. You’re thrown straight back into the action, so you have to be on the ball.
How does the role of Billy reward you as an actor?
Being here once before means you can add another layer to a character. Billy's less gruff in this series, he listens more and doesn't go off-piste as much. He's more of a team player.
How did the easing of Covid restrictions and a new director change things this year?
The first series was so weird because we were isolated in Belgian student accommodation for a week before we could start filming. Then the streets were empty and the police were patrolling, checking your passes that meant you could be out after 10pm, which was so frustrating because it's a great city, really young and vibrant. It was great having Carolina Giammetta directing this time, because it's a show about women and mothers, and she is both those. I also loved Hollington Drive, the show she did with Anna Maxwell Martin. Because she comes from an acting background, she gets that shorthand.
Why did the first series strike such a chord with viewers?
The first season was a remake of a cracking Scandi original, so it did feel a bit like a coat we had to wear. This time, we’re taking that off and the show is finding its own identity because the story diverges from the Scandi show. It feels less restricted, much freer. We're telling our own story now.
What's been the biggest challenge of making the second series?
The usual stuff when it comes to a show like this, which is to bury plot in narrative. There are so many good police procedurals that you have to hit the ground running, because the audience won't hang around for you.
Are there more stories to be told for Hannah and Billy?
You feel there’s more story to be told. Unofficially, we've all sat around and gone, where could the story go?
What’s next for you?
A manga adaptation for Netflix called One Piece, along with some Luther with Idris Elba and Neil Cross.
Interview with Kazia Pelka who plays Dubravka Mimica
Is Dubravka anxious for a showdown with Hannah (Lesley Sharp)?
These are two women who, to a certain extent, judge each other. Dubravka thinks she's a very good mother with a strong family ethos and that Hannah is a bad, dysfunctional mother with a broken family. Dubravka’s world has always been a nurturing environment, all about loyalty, family and friends, shared meals around big dinner tables. She doesn't know what's happened to her son Davor (Toni Gojanovic) and now she’s lost her daughter Bianca (Issy Knopfler) because of Christian (Patrick Gibson), so has no family around her. She's quite isolated at the beginning of series two, and she’s definitely up for that fight.
Does she fear the worst about Davor?
Given her background, escaping from a war-torn country to make a life for her and her family without her husband, she's naturally forward-thinking. I don't think she allows the past interfere too much with the present. She's terrified that something terrible might have happened to Davor but, as she says in the church to her nephew Goran (Mark Strepan), we must always have hope. Goran knows what happens in families like theirs, and so does Dubravka. She’s deeply religious and with her faith comes a certain belief, rooted in superstition, that if she allows herself to think that something like that has happened, it would be as though she had willed it.
How does she feel towards Bianca now?
She loved Bianca deeply and probably still does, but Davor, her son, has always held a special place in her heart. She blames Bianca for everything that's happened to Davor and, in siding with Christian, she has betrayed the family which is unforgivable. Deep down there's love, but her feelings toward her daughter are not what they were.
Does Dubravka feel responsible for the way things have gone?
It would be naive to think these things don't cross her mind, but she doesn’t dwell on them because to go there is to go to a very dark place indeed. She's was very much the power behind the throne, but Davor sat on the throne and ran the business. Her day to day life revolved around running the restaurant and looking after her family. I don't think she would necessarily have got into drugs to the extent of sitting on 150kg of cocaine worth £10million. But that's where she is now, without her son to help her.
Having been thrust into this role, what are Dubravka’s priorities?
Her form of justice is simple, an eye for an eye. As a matter of honour she wants to even the scales, especially once she realises what has happened to Davor. In terms of the business, she has a very clear plan: when she meets Goran, she knows that Zagreb have sent him and that they're concerned, which is probably quite galling because, had Davor been there, Zagreb would not be having such conversations. She knows exactly what she's doing – she's very clear that she’s as tough, if not tougher than any man.
Have her experiences changed her?
We see a certain amount of joy to the character in the first series, especially at her sixtieth birthday party where she’s surrounded by friends and family and running a thriving restaurant. I don't think we see one happy moment for Dubravka in the second series – the joy has been drained out of her and life is hard work. But fun to play!
I've spent a lot of my career playing warm, bubbly characters so to play somebody like Dubravka is a fabulous change. I like doing a lot of background research on any character I play. What makes them tick, why they do what they do and what are the justifications for their actions. With Dubravka I decided the need to survive and succeed at any cost had been a core belief from a young age. War has never been kind to women: she saw dreadful things and dreadful things happened to her, so her perspective was changed forever. Family was everything to her but now that's unravelled and she’s vulnerable.
How did the experience of filming series two compare to series one?
It was a lot hotter! There were some very long shooting days in four-and-a-half inch heels in 90 degrees with a full-face of makeup and a hairdo that had to look absolutely on point at all times. If I had 20 minutes just to close my eyes, I had to be like a geisha and lie with my neck on the back of a chair to avoid affecting my hair. Otherwise, we could all socialise a little this time because Covid rules had relaxed, so that was lovely.
Dubravka does some horse schooling at one point – are you good with horses?
Yes, I rode all the time as a child and a teenager in Yorkshire, so it was lovely to have a scene with a horse. The script originally had her grooming a horse, and I mentioned to (executive producers) Jo McGrath and Walter Iuzzolino that I was really comfortable in that environment, so they got me doing some schooling, which was brilliant.
How does the second series build on the themes of the first?
The first series was very much about two dysfunctional families, which offered an interesting dynamic, especially when combined with a cop show. The second series focuses on Hannah and Dubravka, it’s very unusual to have two protagonists who are female and in their sixties. Lots of people watching television are women of our age and want to see a reflection of who they are to some extent, so this is something a little bit different.
What’s next for you?
Acting-wise, I’ve no idea. There are fewer parts around for actresses of my age although I do feel the parts that are being written are getting more interesting, we’re not completely relegated to solely being someone’s granny. I started Dr.Boo, a beauty business in London, 20 years ago and I’m very hands on if I’m not working on something else. I spent many years writing about beauty for several national magazines and I’m currently writing a novel set in that world. I’m always busy, which suits me well.
Interview with Issy Knopfler who plays Bianca Mimica
Where is Bianca at the start of season two?
We pick up exactly three months after season one, and Christian (Patrick Gibson) and Bianca have fled to Costa Rica where they’re living this incredibly bohemian, wonderful beach life – except there's this constant fear that they're going to be found or trapped or conned. Christian is particularly paranoid about this, and it’s a point of contention because Bianca's frustrated about it. She’s more like: just let it go, let’s be happy and enjoy our freedom.
Do they genuinely see a future together?
I think so, although it’s a split between wishful thinking that true love will prevail and the realisation of their actual situation. They’re bonded by trauma and have no one else to be with anyway, so they really couldn't be without each other.
How does Bianca feel about her family and her mother Dubravka (Kazia Pelka) now?
I think it was quite an easy estrangement – Bianca wants nothing to do with them. It was established in season one that Bianca is the golden child who is not completely privy to what's going on. They see that she could lead an honest life – she was studying criminology at uni, after all – so they want to protect her as much as possible from the horrible stuff. That gives them some humanity, in that they're a family that love each other deeply, but I think it was the deceit, more than anything, that she couldn't stomach.
What does having a mother like Dubravka do to Bianca’s own expectations of being a mother, now she is pregnant?
She would want to be a better mother than the mother she had. There is the constant worry of, am I going to be a terrible mother? Is there anything that I'm going to pass on or put into my own parenting? We're on the run, people want us dead – what am I bringing my child into? … There’s a lot of doubt, especially in Costa Rica – her first thought is to get an abortion, even though she wants to have the baby desperately.
Is she worried about Christian’s response?
Yeah, it was one of the first things we shot in the entire season, which was lucky because it felt like a great way to start. She tells Christian they can’t have their baby, and her first reason is their situation. Christian immediately tells her that they’ll figure it out because they’ve figured everything out this far. It’s lovely.
Where did you film the Costa Rica scenes?
In southern Spain, in a little town called Almeria. We landed in the middle of the night and Paddy and I turned up pale, despite having supposedly lived in Costa Rica for three months. I remember standing in a swimming costume in southern Spain at half past midnight, getting spray tanned by people I’d only just met, knowing that Paddy was in the next room having the same experience. Pretty glamorous! We looked ridiculous for a couple of hours until it set then we washed most of it off, so for the first hour, we felt like tangerines and couldn’t touch anything. That silliness was a great way to set the tone on set.
What have you learnt from working on Before We Die?
Everything, because I didn't know anything! I didn't expect to get the job, but I watched the original Swedish series anyway, then didn't hear anything for months. It was the beginning of COVID, so I assumed I hadn’t got it or the whole thing had been shut down. Then Jan Matthys, who directed the first season, took a chance on me – I turned up as green as they come, didn't know how to read a call sheet, didn't know how to do anything. But I was very supported by everyone. Toni Gojanovic (playing Davor Mimica) came to my hotel the night before my first scene, because he knew how nervous I was, and he ran lines with me in the hotel bar over a pot of tea. Everyone was so gracious and patient.
Did the second season feel like a very different experience?
For me, personally, it really did. Because the first season was my first proper job, I spent it making all the mistakes, falling down all the stairs, metaphorically and literally. The second season felt like a homecoming, which sounds cheesy, but with lots of familiar faces, the same set and same hotel rooms, it really did.
You spend a lot of the second series on your own, one way or another. What sort of a challenge was that?
My onscreen family spent a lot of time together during the first series, building that trust and that bond, especially during the pandemic. Being completely isolated for hours and days in the second season really felt that way – I felt so much less connected to people on set and offset, which massively helped.
What do you enjoy about playing Bianca?
She's so much more cool and ballsy than I would ever be, so I get to experience a ferocity I would be way too scared to practise in real life. I love how she starts off so timid and clueless and seemingly unimportant, but ends up accidentally getting deeply involved into some wacky situations. Her arc is wicked: this year, she's pregnant and fighting for the life of her child. She grows so much.
Would you be up for more?
100%! I love it so deeply. More gun toting and mafia stuff. A Bianca spin-off series would be great!
Interview with Patrick Gibson who plays Christian Radic
Why did the first series strike such a chord with viewers, and what does series two add to that?
The themes are timeless, family and loyalty, elements we can all relate to, but the stakes are so high which is what makes it really fun. They've managed to balance an intimate family drama with this incredible crime thriller. In Dubravka (Kazia Pelka) and Hannah (Lesley Sharp) there are two mothers protecting their clan in a very primal way. That’s amazing, especially when it’s played by such incredible actors. It feels very large scale with those characters.
Filming scenes set in Costa Rica must have been a nice reintroduction to Christian’s story…
Definitely. We were in Almeria in southern Spain, so just getting to play Christian as pretty relaxed and enjoying his freedom, even if it’s only briefly, was really nice because so much of the show is so high octane. It was lovely to shoot out there and the location guys found some amazing places – I was shocked by how much it felt like Costa Rica. The whole show feels quite elevated this year in terms of production design.
With Christian is there always an underlying paranoia, the dream on the verge of turning into a nightmare?
Exactly. Christian hasn't been able to leave that paranoia behind, maybe rightly so. He’s always looking over his shoulder and that's difficult for Bianca (Issy Knopfler) as well. They have that freedom now, yet he's constantly fearful because he's carrying so much trauma from everything that happened in the first season.
Does he see a future with Bianca?
That possibility of a new life together is a lot of his driving force from the outset. He’s completely invested in it because Bianca has become his home, but there's still a lot of tension there.
How does he react to the news of Bianca’s pregnancy?
Bianca is hesitant about telling him because she doesn't quite know where he stands. He’s trying to be two people for her: he's trying to be okay and enjoy the life they have there while at the same time being on high alert. But Christian is invested to an extent that almost surprises her.
Does any part of him miss the adrenaline of undercover work?
Having been through what he's been through, it's almost impossible to switch off. A part of him craves those extremes – maybe nothing else feels as vibrant after that.
How does he process being apart from his mother so soon after their reconciliation?
It’s very difficult for him. At the end of the first season, they did have a reconciliation and really saw each other after those shared experiences. Circumstantially he needed a mother figure again, having pushed her away for a long time, so that final moment when the dust has settled for a minute, and he secretly tells her where he's going shows an interesting level of intimacy. With that came some closure. Even though they're so far away from each other geographically, they probably feel closer than they have in a long time.
Has he got over his envy of the Mimica family bond?
The experiences both those families have to go through to galvanise those relationships are so intense, and not necessarily positive. He gets to learn first-hand where that Mimica family dynamic really stems from and why they're so close: they're bound by secrets and loyalty and fear. Christian and his mum are bound by a shared experience of loss and trauma.
What do you particularly enjoy about stepping into Christian’s shoes?
As the series develops, it becomes clear how solid his moral compass is and yet, at the start of it all, he's somebody you might expect to be wayward, given he's estranged from his mum and involved in drugs and so on. I found it really interesting how, when the circumstances around somebody change, who they are changes too. He proves himself when he has to rise to the occasion, but he's constantly put in these moral dilemmas: he had to take someone's life in the first season, for example. Getting to see the effect of these things on him is really interesting to play.
How do you enjoy the stunts and action sequences?
Just rolling about the place and hiding under cars is so much fun and there's some real hand-to-hand combat this season that I'm looking forward to seeing. The stunt team on that were incredible. It was really exciting to do – gruelling but rewarding, because it was 32 degrees when we were shooting some of those fight sequences in the street. We were baking in the sun, shooting this thing over and over again, the stunt guys are flipping over each other's backs… It was a challenge to keep that pace and bring energy to every take.
Interview with Priyanga Burford who plays Nicky Harris
Why did you want to get involved in Before We Die?
Why not? Nicky is a great character and when I read it, I thought: this is going to be so much fun.
What was your way into playing Nicky?
I'm a very instinctive actor, so I pay very close attention to how I'm feeling as I'm reading a script for the first time. I find those instincts are usually the ones to follow, so it was really helpful to learn about the job she does and have some actual facts, then you can start to imagine her daily life and what drives her.
Where does Nicky fit into the story?
Nicky is head of the task force appointed to investigate the explosion that happened at the end of season one. They're still investigating it, months later, because there’s a mole in the force – that’s why Kane (Steve Toussaint) has brought her in.
But her priorities are a bit more complicated than that…
It was interesting to do the research for this role. I was very surprised to learn that someone in Nicky’s position doesn't earn very much money at all. That was great to find out because I realised that money is a big motivator for her. It's not just that she's a wrong ‘un – although she is because she’s deeply corrupt and working with the Mimicas – but it's the fact that she really wants to have a certain kind of lifestyle, and this is a way to get it.
What is her long-term gameplan?
She has incredible connections with police forces around Europe, so she's pretty well shored up financially and in terms of connections. In contrast to Hannah (Lesley Sharp) and Dubravka (Kazia Pelka), who are doing what they're doing for someone else, Nicky is absolutely self-serving. I get the feeling she’s hoping to get away with it and go off to live a fantastic lifestyle, but I don't think she’d be able to keep her hand out of the game. She probably gets a thrill out of the risk of it.
How much fun is it to play someone who is themselves playing a part?
A lot of fun! I really enjoyed trying to get into that headspace. I said to (executive producer) Jo McGrath early on that Nicky is an actress who genuinely enjoys transforming into other people to fit in, to serve her purpose and get what she wants. She's a gambler and a thrill seeker, a risk taker and a chameleon, so I don't think she can stay out of it for long.
What relationship does she have with Hannah, Billy (Vincent Regan) and Kane, and then the Mimicas on the other side?
Her relationships with Hannah and Billy are very distant, which serves Nicky well because she doesn't want to be too conspicuous. She probably views them as pawns in her game. She’s highly dysfunctional psychologically because she can't have proper relationships or friendships. She just sees people in terms of how useful they're going to be to her, so she uses Kane to get what she needs. With the Mimicas, she probably has a certain amount of respect for that set-up, but it's a business relationship and one she is aware she can't mess up.
Nicky seems impressively in control. Is that the reality or a projection?
My assumption, with people who have those kind of behaviours, is that there is some very deep fear or insecurity or feeling of weakness going on, which actually amounts to a lack of control. The way I figured it out with Nicky is that everything's a game and she’s incapable of losing, which is her weakness. She absolutely must win every game she enters.
What are the big themes explored in this second series?
All sorts of questions around loyalty: familial loyalty, professional loyalty, friendship. Revenge is a big one, as well. And it has these very single-minded women driving the story forwards. We’ve seen female police officers before, although none quite like Hannah, and the female crime boss is something quite unusual. Nicky is written very cleverly as well because she uses ideas of conventional femininity to pursue what she wants, especially in her relationship with Kane.
What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?
When I first got to Brussels, I went straight from the Eurostar terminal to the unit base for a hair and makeup test. Then these two guys walked in, looking like Vikings, and said: Okay, let's do some training. Two-and-a-half hours later, I’d been put through my paces doing kickboxing and karate, neither of which I've ever done before. That was a bit of a shock to the system, but by the end of it I was feeling so confident, which really builds the character of Nicky as well because she can definitely handle herself.
What’s coming up next for you?
I'm writing and directing a short film and I’m about to do my first-ever video game in July, which is really exciting – I’ve never done motion capture before.
Interview with Carolina Giametta the Director
Why did you want to direct before we die season 2?
I come from an acting background. My first job leaving drama school was Mike Leigh’s Naked with Lesley Sharp and I’ve always been a great fan of hers. I really enjoyed the first season of Before We Die and knew what a challenge it was to make during Covid. When Jo and Walter approached me, they wanted to be more ambitious with the second season and gave me the freedom to give it a different look and feel. The story has such strong characters and emotions at the heart of it, I was very excited about taking it to the next level.
What was your approach with a female driven cast?
The themes in the second series are so strong; motherhood, grief, revenge, family, it was important to me that we all explored these emotions together, so collaboration was crucial. We all had to bring a lot of ourselves and our own lives to the set every day to find the true depth of the piece. There was a lot of trust between me Lesley (Hannah), Kazia (Dubravka) and Priyanga (Nicky) and we had to talk about some dark subjects at times and the things we had all been through as women and mothers. The beauty is that we are all women of certain age, so we had a confidence in our discussions that comes from life experience and we all really respected what we all brought to the table. Survival is a huge theme in the piece and we talked a lot about how that related to all our lives and how far we would go to protect ourselves and our families. Both characters, Hannah and Dubravka reach a point of no return, so it was important for me to really get to the heart of what that actually means to both of them. I asked a lot of the actors in the show and I knew it was very exposing at times on a personal level but I also knew I had to draw that out to get the performances that we got.
What was the biggest challenge directing it?
There’s never enough time or money when you are working on a show at this budget level and you want to make everything amazing, so the commitment and investment I was asking from the cast and crew was a lot. It was the first time I’d shot in Belgium, so I had to gain the belief and trust from our Belgium crew. We also shot in the UK and Spain, so trying to keep everything under one umbrella whilst filming in three different countries was really tough at times. However, again I think everyone’s passion to make it work was the drive we needed to complete and deliver what we did. The whole team at Eagle Eye were so supportive every step of the way and there was a lot of laughter, so the energy surrounding the project was terrific.
What do you want the audience to take away from watching season 2?
A great and thrilling story… always. Whilst I’ve changed the style, the tone and the overall feel of the show, the thing you want your audience to engage with is the story. How do they relate to the emotional drive of the characters, how do the themes in the story connect with them and their own lives and how much do they believe and want to invest in watching it to the very end. We hope they do!