With two period dramas under her belt and a third US pilot series likely to be picked up, English actor Janet Montgomery is keeping busy.
Last year she was inundated with work – first in the Stephen Poliakoff drama Dancing On The Edge, followed by the pre-World War II drama Spies Of Warsaw. “I was honestly really blessed, it was a very good period for me,” she says. “I was working on Dancing On The Edge and auditioned for Spies.”
Spies Of Warsaw concludes tonight on Foxtel’s UKTV. Montgomery plays Anna Skarbek opposite David Tennant of Doctor Who fame. The pair struggle with a burgeoning relationship, while attempting to make things work against the backdrop of the dawn of war.
Cue equal levels of intrigue and drama within their personal and professional relationships.
Tennant, who plays colonel JeanFrancois Mercier, was a role model on set according to Montgomery. “He is the epitome of the prepared actor,” she says. “And he does everything with great humour and with bundles of positivity. It was hard to be in a bad mood on set – even when we were shooting on top of a mountain and it was hot and I was tired he would say ‘what a beautiful view from up here,’ and you can’t help but be caught up in that.”
Her other project, Dancing On The Edge, set in the early 1930s, is about a black jazz band in London and the difficulties faced by the group living and working in the city at that time.
The show covers racial discrimination and prejudice, but explores them from the angle of their impact on the people they affect and those around them.
Montgomery says of the role: “It is always exciting doing something that is breaking all the rules, doing something different for TV.”
The story exists in two very different worlds – the world of the privileged who frequent the hotels where the band plays, and the benefactors who invite them to their country manors.
Directly alongside that is the reality for the band who live in much less opulent surrounding, as they work to claw their way to a better life.
“We were incredibly lucky to have such a great team of people creating
●●those worlds,” says Montgomery.
“We had this amazing costume designer who had gone all around the world finding authentic pieces, they hardly made any of the costumes.”
With half the work done for her already, Montgomery says she then set about doing all the research she could to find a truth in her character. “You do do a lot more research when you are working on a period drama. When it is the 1930s you have to know what is going on, so I spent a lot of time reading and discovering anything I could find to help bulk up my character’s life.”
With two heavy-duty dramas in the can, Montgomery could be forgiven for resting. But she has just completed a pilot for Gothica, which has been described as a “sexy gothic soap,” and stars Australian actors Chris Egan, Emma Booth and Melissa George.
Spies Of Warsaw