I’ve played a prostitute, a demon slayer … do’ there’s always something new to
“I WAS on a film set [in Paris] when I was 10 or 11 auditioning for a big film [ Joan of Arc] and I remember seeing this magical, fantastic world of a story being built around me and I just wanted to be a part of that. Then I had to build up the confidence to do it. And while I was always interested in other things such as art history, [West studied it at the Sorbonne] acting was just something I was really attracted to from a young age. It’s such a challenging job that it took time for me to build up the confidence. I was very shy and I needed time to make my mind up.
It was all about being able to tell stories and live a different life for a while, and then come back to reality. I’ve played a prostitute, a demon slayer and now Alice. What I look for is being able to go from one product to the next and feel like I’m challenging myself in a new way. There’s always something new to do.
The beautiful thing about Indian Summers going to season two is you have new challenges and storylines with the one character – you don’t want to be doing the same thing.
The show is set in India, but we shoot in Malaysia because the places we want to reflect in India no longer exist there – we couldn’t replicate the time period. Filming in Malaysia has its own difficulties. We are in exotic conditions, so we get scorpions, we get cockroaches, we get monkeys, lizards – they are all part of our daily lives. And it’s very, very hot.
I was only vaguely familiar with the period and the time [ Indian Summers is set in 1932 following the final years of British rule in India] and that concept of English expat life in the empire.
So many younger people have no notion of what the empire was. We’ve done a very good job of sweeping the entire experience under the carpet.
The show is written from both sides – from the Indian point of view and the British point of view – you really get to know what it was like in those times for both cultures.
People initially said the show was Downton Abbey in India. It is a period piece, with an ensemble cast, but the dramatics and thematics are completely different.
There’s obviously a historical background, but there’s also a very interesting political and cultural background. It’s not about the rich and the servants – it’s about cultural and community differences and I would say it is probably edgier.
But if we do get the same amount of viewers as Downton … we’ll take that.” INDIAN SUMMERS SATURDAY, 8.30PM, BBC FIRST 21 Starred Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal (––––––– WithChildren) 27 Mayim Bialik plays this BigBangTheory character (––– Farrah Fowler) 28 Aussie TV journalist (–––– Munro) 29 About the adventures of Thermoman ( My ––––)