Norris: “Unfortunately, I didn’t come off too well from one [stunt] last season. Nothing serious, just a carpet burn, but it hurt like hell. But that’s part of the fun of acting – the unpredictability!”
If the UK spy drama Spooks has taught us anything, it’s that the life expectancy of a British Secret Service agent is often shortened, sometimes quite dramatically.
Given the turnover of agents on the show, viewers can only hope that new Section Chief Ros Myers, played by Hermione Norris, has the opportunity to stick around for a little while.
That looks like it might the case, actually. The flinty but reliable Myers has become a valuable asset to Spooks since her introduction in the show’s fifth season, thanks largely to Cold Feet and Wire in the Blood star Norris’s excellent portrayal of the character.
For those of us without top-level clearance, Hermione, just who is Ros Myers?
Ros Myers has the Secret Service in her blood, literally. Her father is a business mogul with high-ranking political links, and the world of politics and espionage is all she knows. And it’s all she wants to know. She’s married to her job, utterly uncompromising, ruthless and would do anything for what she believes to be the ‘greater good’. She’s really good at her job and she knows it. All of which makes her great fun to play because she’s not like me at all!
Spooks is an intense show, and the fact that you were pregnant while filming its sixth season must have made things even more interesting.
My husband Simon says he always knows when I am working on Spooks because I become very infantile! The script is so intense and the pressure so enormous that all the members of the cast just can’t stop laughing. I spent most of this season in hysterics – I was heavily pregnant and I think the hormones didn’t help. One scene, where I had to get in and out of a coffin, just cracked me up.
I imagine your kids wouldn’t be allowed to see their mum in action as Ros just yet.
I have shown my son Wilf, who is four, a few selected clips from Spooks, just so that he can see what I do during the day. I ask him what he does at school and in return he loves to ask me what I did at work. It doesn’t quite sound right saying ‘Mummy killed a Mossad agent’, so I showed him some fairly gentle pursuit scenes with Ros running for her life. He knows it’s all make-believe but he didn’t watch much – he just started running around the room pretending to flee the baddies, just ‘being Mummy’.
Clambering in and out of coffins aside, how have you found the stunt work you’ve had to do on Spooks?
I love it. Unfortunately, I didn’t come off too well from one last season. Nothing serious, just a carpet burn, but it hurt like hell. But that’s part of the fun of acting – the unpredictability!
You’re quite in demand now, but there was a stage where parts were few and far between for you.
After leaving college, I shared a room in a house in south London with four other struggling young actors. There was no heating and no hot water, and the very real threat of eviction because I couldn’t afford the rent. In between what acting roles I could get, I took any job I could find just to pay the bills. I even had to dress up as a moose for one job. My mother was horrified. But I just couldn’t – I wanted to act so badly. Finally, by the time I was 26 or 27, I had to face up to the fact that I was struggling. I really started to think about giving up my dream of becoming an actress. I had only ever trained in performing arts, so I knew that I would have to go back to university and find a vocation. And it was at this point that I got a call to audition for a new series called Cold Feet.