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.
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.