Pro­file MyAnna Bur­ing

The Rip­per Street ac­tor re­flects on the irony of how a mild-man­nered and diminu­tive per­son such as her­self ends up play­ing fe­ro­cious brothel madam Long Su­san Hart, writes Deb­bie Schipp.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -

AS mys­te­ri­ous brothel madam Long Su­san Hart in UK pe­riod crime drama Rip­per Street, MyAnna Bur­ing is as elu­sive as she is sharp-tongued.

But it’s the bruises she gath­ered film­ing sea­son one of the TV se­ries that Bur­ing is most proud of.

The diminu­tive ac­tress, who stands 157cm, laughs that al­most as un­likely as her land­ing a role named for the height of her char­ac­ter is the fact that Long Su­san can at times be fiery.

‘‘You’ve seen it in episode two when there’s this lovely scene with Joseph Gil­gun (who played an evil Fa­gin-like char­ac­ter, Carmichael, in a guest spot in that episode),’’ Bur­ing laughs.

‘‘There were fis­ticuffs and a lot of stunt work, and that was all me. I will lay claim to ev­ery one of those bruises.

‘‘The thing is, in real life I am such a weak­ling and I have lit­tle phys­i­cal strength. So it was fab­u­lous to do this strong scene, and . . . I wore those bruises from film­ing with pride.’’

The bruises have long faded, but as Rip­per Street reaches the mid­dle of its run of eight episodes on Aus­tralian screens, Bur­ing says there are plenty more sur­prises to come.

The 33-year-old has played a vam­pire in two in­stal­ments of hit movie fran­chise Twi­light and was last seen on Aus­tralian screens as a mis­chievous maid in Down­ton Abbey, but never quite imag­ined her­self as a brothel madam.

‘‘That’s what I love about my job. It’s eclec­tic and dif­fer­ent and you never know what you’ll be do­ing next,’’ she says.

But she was drawn to Long Su­san be­cause of the many lay­ers her char­ac­ter pos­sesses: not least the se­cret she shares with for­mer lover Homer Jack­son (Adam Rothen­berg), with whom she ar­rived in Lon­don’s gritty East End af­ter flee­ing Amer­ica with a dark se­cret.

‘‘Long Su­san is an in­ter­est­ing anom­aly, first of all be­cause she’s played by an ac­tress who’s in­cred­i­bly short,’’ Bur­ing laughs.

‘‘I think she was writ­ten to be tall orig­i­nally, but the pro­duc­ers must have liked my read for her.’’

Bur­ing wanted the char­ac­ter for her air of mys­tery. ‘‘If she was ma­nip­u­la­tive and a hard-core har­lot I’m not sure I’d be so in­ter­ested in her,’’ she says.

‘‘Her re­la­tion­ship with Jack­son is one of the most in­ter­est­ing re­la­tion­ships I’ve played.

‘‘There’s his­tory there. She could only have such a vit­ri­olic and fizzing re­la­tion­ship with some­one she had cared a huge amount about.’’

She ad­mires Su­san’s strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion to look af­ter her ‘‘girls’’.

‘‘We are talk­ing about a time in our his­tory when women re­ally had no rights what­so­ever apart from the ones granted them by their hus­bands or fa­thers,’’ she says.

‘‘Here’s this woman who is sup­port­ing her­self in, ar­guably, a way which is morally de­bat­able – some would say im­moral – but she is sup­port­ing her­self and at the same time look­ing af­ter the women she makes her money off.

‘‘She cares about th­ese women in a prag­matic way in that she re­alises prostitution will carry on re­gard­less. She needs a way of mak­ing money, and she can take them in and look af­ter them with sup­port they wouldn’t get on the street.

‘‘But to run that busi­ness she has to be in­cred­i­bly strong. And her his­tory will show why she is so fierce.’’

Bur­ing says episode seven is her favourite.

‘‘It has a space in my heart be­cause so much comes out,’’ she says.

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