Bil­lie’s bid to se­duce the US

‘Hav­ing a grown man sit­ting on your lap with a di­a­per on, that felt slightly out there,’ Bil­lie Piper tells Phil­iana Ng

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

Ts­tar­ring Bri­tish ac­tress Bil­lie Piper as Belle (or Han­nah), has just be­gun its fi­nal sea­son run on M-net. But for Bil­lie, also known for her role on Bri­tish time-ben­der Doc­tor Who, it’s time for a new chap­ter to be­gin. The ac­tress chats about her post- Se­cret Diary plans, the most un­for­get­table scene and why she’s ready to make a splash on Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion.

Do you re­call any chal­lenges film­ing this last sea­son of Se­cret Diary of a Call Girl?

Oh yeah, end­less chal­lenges. The sto­ries be­come slightly more fan­tas­ti­cal and slightly more out there. Know­ing it was our last sea­son was a chal­lenge in it­self be­cause you wanted to go for it more than HE RACY se­ries Se­cret Diary of a Call Girl, ever and make it fun­nier and deeper and richer, more fright­en­ing, more strange, more height­ened. And hav­ing spent time with call girls, the ques­tion that they all get quite stuck on is, do they choose their pro­fes­sion over life and love. Some­thing more real and some­thing com­mit­ted and emo­tional. It’s in­ter­est­ing to see where they go and which way Belle goes.

Was there a par­tic­u­lar scene that was dif­fi­cult?

I al­ways find the sex scenes chal­leng­ing be­cause it’s the last thing you re­ally want to be do­ing and also you have to be very mat­ter of fact about it. Some of the story lines are quite strange, per­verse, slightly out there, and the chal­lenge then be­comes how to do that and make it palat­able. Like the scene with the guy (dressed) like a baby and that kind of stuff is tricky be­cause ob­vi­ously, it’s very funny, but it’s also kind of strange. You want to han­dle it cor­rectly. You don’t want it to be­come icky. And your char­ac­ter has a new role in the new sea­son, be­com­ing a madam and tak­ing over for (Cherie Lunghi’s) Stephanie. Was that a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence?

It’s a hard thing for Belle to do be­cause she’s re­luc­tant to man­age other girls in the world of pros­ti­tu­tion. I think that, morally, that’s the point where she draws the line. She knows how to han­dle her busi­ness. Putting peo­ple for­ward ac­cord­ingly is not some­thing I think she is very keen on do­ing. And also, it has mas­sive le­gal im­pli­ca­tions.

What was the most mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence film­ing this last sea­son?

The whole thing was crazy. Try­ing to put your finger on one … I found the guy with the baby stuff, like I said be­fore, was re­ally wild. Hav­ing a grown man sit­ting on your lap with a di­a­per on and you hav­ing to feed him his bot­tle, that felt slightly out there. I knew the ac­tor who was do­ing it and he’s a dad and Shake­spearean trained.

Do you think Se­cret Diary could have lasted an­other sea­son?

I think it’s run its nat­u­ral course, to be per­fectly hon­est. Of course, if you had bril­liant writ­ers, there’s al­ways some story to be told, but when it starts to feel like you’re tread­ing on old ground or it gets too out there ... It gets slightly more mad this year than ever be­fore, but you kind of want to leave on a high.

Have you seen a change from when you first started in the in­dus­try to where you are now?

Yes, I re­ally do see a dif­fer­ence. I see that things are get­ting made a lot faster for less money and there (is) a lot less op­por­tu­nity, I think, for ac­tors. There’s not a lot of work in the UK, I mean, that’s why ev­ery­one’s mov­ing to Amer­ica be­cause that’s where the work seems to be.

And also the sub­jects of things peo­ple are talk­ing about, the sto­ries (they) are want­ing to tell, that’s re­ally changed too. There is a pool of work that is re­ally, re­ally thought-pro­vok­ing and re­ally real.

The ex­treme side is the enor­mous bud­geted stu­dio pro­duc­tions that’s ba­si­cally all green screen. I think there are two ex­tremes.

It’s the same way with TV. Thanks to cable, be­cause that’s where our TV show sits. The TV shows get racier and racier and more thought-pro­vok­ing. There are re­ally good roles for women in them and they of­ten have fe­male leads and that’s re­ally good for a girl.

Would you ever make the tran­si­tion to a US tele­vi­sion se­ries?

The thing about cable is that it’s con­stantly year-round, but if the right thing comes along and I get the op­por­tu­nity to be cast in it, then I’d love to do that.

What aspects of the Bri­tish TV in­dus­try would you change?

I re­ally like the way Amer­i­cans en­cour­age their team to ex­cel in other ar­eas of the pro­duc­tion. I like the way that if you’re on a lon­grun­ning show and you know it in­side out, you of­ten have an op­tion to pro­duce or di­rect. I think that’s re­ally bril­liant with the Amer­i­can ap­proach. I quite like Bri­tish sen­si­bil­i­ties. We can learn from each other.

I ex­ec­u­tive- pro­duced Se­cret Diary this year and the year be­fore. And you can (ex­pand your role on shows in the UK). Peo­ple are a lot more re­luc­tant to do it, and I think it’s be­cause peo­ple panic that it’s not go­ing to be han­dled in the way it might be han­dled with an es­tab­lished di­rec­tor. What’s com­ing up for you? I’m just try­ing to find a job. We’re back to the draw­ing board. It is what it is. It’s frus­trat­ing, it’s tir­ing. (Laughs) It’s des­per­ate. You slightly lose your mind. You have no con­fi­dence and you have too much con­fi­dence.

That’s the na­ture of the beast. You have to suck it up and get on with it. – The Hol­ly­wood Reporter

Catch Se­cret Diary of a Call Girl, Tues­days on M-net at 11.30pm.

Call Se­cret Diary of a Girl.

TOUGH CALLS: Piper in

Bil­lie

Jug­gling pos­si­ble true love and top pay­ing clients is tricky busi­ness.

Se­cret Diary of a Call Girl.

OTHER SELF: Bil­lie Piper plays Han­nah (aka Belle) in

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