Working on the thriller The Cry in Australia was a “far cry” from Jenna Coleman’s title role in the series Victoria. But she loved the change and, in particular, acting with babies, as James Rampton reports.
Victoria star Jenna Coleman travelled to Australia for the thriller The Cry and fell in love with the babies on set.
Victoria star Jenna Coleman well knows the adage that actors should never work with animals and children.
But she happily cast this aside to work on the thriller The Cry, which is set in Australia, and involves a British couple, who have a baby Noah and are trying to regain custody of another child when disaster strikes.
Coleman flew to Australia early this year during a break in production of Victoria to work on the series.
When asked at the end of filming what she would miss the most, Coleman replied without hesitation.
“I’m going to miss the babies. We’ve had five weeks filming with the gorgeous twins playing Noah. It’s been lovely. But it’s been emotional.” So what is Coleman’s secret for acting with babies? “We’ve been unbelievably lucky,” she admits. “The babies were like these magic actor babies who seemed to know what the word ‘Action’ means and what the scene required. They’ve made my job very easy. Genius babies.” Coleman, 32, who is in a long-term relationship with her Victoria co-star Tom Hughes (Albert), has no children of her own – well, not yet anyway. Speculation was rife during filming, though, when Coleman was seen looking pregnant. But it turned out it was just a prosthetic bump. Even though the emotional demands of the production were challenging, Coleman clearly still relished working on The Cry,a four-part British drama adapted from the novel by Helen FitzGerald.
According to the actress, “What’s been really remarkable about filming – given the emotional marathon for everyone involved – is how light it has been in between scenes. It’s been absolutely necessary. We just had a real laugh.”
Early on in The Cry, Coleman’s character, Joanna, takes a long-haul flight. Joanna and her fiance Alistair (Ewen Leslie) fly from Scotland to Australia with their baby, Noah, to try to win custody of his older daughter, Chloe (Markella Kavenagh), from his ex, Alexandra (Asher Keddie).
Once they are in Australia, a tragedy occurs that turns the lives of Joanna and Alistair upside down. Questions immediately arise about Joanna’s competence as a parent.
The Cry soon turns into a study of the myths of motherhood and how someone can unravel under stress.
“It’s quite ironic,” says Coleman, “because I was actually on a plane when I was first read the script, and that is where we find Joanna in episode one – on a plane journey from Glasgow to Melbourne.
“The first episode really reeled me in. It kept me guessing and kept me on my toes. I thought it was really captivating and clever.”
Coleman, who has enjoyed great success as Doctor Who’s companion Clara and as the title role in Victoria, outlines her character in The Cry. “As we meet her, Joanna is a new mum and has a baby of about three months. We find her struggling with the change – struggling, I suppose, with new motherhood. She feels exhausted. She feels like she’s lost her identity and she’s struggling to connect with Noah.” Then, Coleman continues, “They get on a plane to Australia and Joanna goes through some extreme changes in her life. We explore her psychological breakdown through these unique set of circumstances.” The actress, who has also starred in Emmerdale, Titanic, Death Comes To Pemberley, Me Before You, and Room At The Top, says that appearing in such an intriguing thriller – where nothing is quite what it seems to be – was testing. “The psychological thriller aspect of how much you give to the audience has been really challenging – probably more than any other role before. “You are constantly living within a double-bluff. You’re playing the truth of the scene, but also thinking about how much you want to give to the audience each moment to keep the mystery and to keep drawing on the strings. “You’re living constantly within a vortex. That’s what we kept calling it on set. It’s a double bubble.” Coleman hopes that viewers will find the enigma at the heart of The Cry as absorbing as she did. “It’s a show that keeps turning on its head. It keeps the mystery taut ... It keeps you guessing a lot.”
“The first episode really reeled me in. It kept me guessing and kept me on my toes.”
– Jenna Coleman
Asher Keddie as Alexandra