ARChive 16: Lucy Brown and Naomi Bentley (Series 2)

Primeval series two saw some major changes, with Lucy Brown returning to the show as a completely different character from the one viewers had seen her playing in the first year. The dynamic between Abby and Connor was also altered, with the arrival of Naomi Bentley’s Caroline – a lady with a distinct agenda. This interview took place at the Primeval series two launch, and is printed here in full for the first time. 

Does it feel very strange playing a totally different character this time?

Lucy Brown:   Actually, stranger than I thought it was going to be. When I got the brief about what was going to happen with Claudia, it was really exciting and great to be able to come back to a show that you love and you’re excited about and then to play something completely different, to play with new ideas. Coming on set, I’m so familiar with the rest of the cast and with the premise, me as a person, and to try to put that to the back seat and go, “Hang on, I don’t know any of you, what any of you like or dislike, what your rhythms are, how I feel about different people…” To come in every day and try and see it with new eyes was an absolute challenge.

It looks as if you’re really vamping it up for this series…

Lucy:   It seriously is! The outfit really helped, because it’s obviously such a completely different direction to the first character, and this year, the heels got a lot higher, the hems got a lot shorter, so you can’t help but feel very different. It’s plainly not Claudia. The way you walk and behave in outfits like that really definitely helped.

Was it a lot more fun?

Lucy:   It was different. I have a very strong attachment to Claudia, I loved her, so as far as letting go of somebody you quite care for…

Did you play her as an “evil twin” type character?

Lucy:   She’s not an evil twin. I hope when people watch her, they’ll fall in love with this character in a different way. She’s sharp: very sharp in whatever element she’s in. Dynamic, holds no prisoners – but not in an aggressive way, not in an “evil” way. In comparison with Claudia: we met Claudia coming up in the ranks, trying to find her feet. This woman is walking in at the top of her profession, she’s awesomely good at it, and she knows it. “Tell me what to do – and I’ll do it!”

Did you have anyone in mind to base her on?

Lucy:   Just before we started filming,  I spoke to a couple of schoolfriends who went into PR, and ended up going into their agency for a few days to see how the women were. I had a pretty good idea of what women in PR are like, but I just wanted to see how they worked day to day. There were a couple of girls who I took bits from: the dress that I walk in at the end of episode one, I took a photograph of the girl at the office who was wearing a black dress with a red belt and high heels. When we came to do the costume, I put this down, and said, “I know who this woman is…” and we tried to match it really closely.

Cutter’s already pulled you once – is he going to start all over again?

 (Lucy laughs but doesn’t say anything)

Naomi, can you tell us something about your character?

Naomi Bentley: Caroline is very strong, very determined, very ambitious. She is one of those women who when she decides she wants something, she goes and gets it. It’s not like she thinks it’s already been written what she’s going to be. She’s controlling it right now. She’s got heart as well, which I hope you see. She is quite manipulative, and quite edgy, I suppose.

How does she get involved?
Naomi:  She comes in as Connor’s girlfriend: they meet at the DVD store and she sees Connor, and she wants to get to know him better, so she invites herself along to watch a DVD at theirs, and it goes from there. She doesn’t really let him out of her sight really from there.

Her relationship with Abby…

Naomi:  …is not great. We do get catty lines. It’s safe to say we really dislike each other. Why that is I have no idea, because I’m lovely!

Is Connor totally oblivious to the friction?

Naomi:   I think so, but I think when Caroline is there, she manipulates the situation very well so he isn’t made too aware of it.

Was it odd having kissing scenes with Hannah Spearritt being Andrew’s girlfriend?

Naomi:  We were supposed to have more than we did! Before we started, I sat down with Hannah and said, “This is really awkward for me, obviously, because I’m playing your boyfriend’s girlfriend, and all of my scenes with him you are in!” I was really anticipating that it wouldn’t be pleasant at all, but actually Hannah was really professional about it. I said, “if anything happens that you are not happy with, then please take me to one side.” She said basically, just go for it! She was so professional it didn’t come into it, so it wasn’t an issue ever.

Had you watched the first series?

Naomi: Not when I had been cast, but as soon as I had been cast, I did. I loved it. I thought it was a really strong cast, I loved the way it was shot, the special effects. I thought it was so cleverly done. I was really excited to be part of something that was so big. I was just overwhelmed and excited and a bit in disbelief that I was going to joining this team of great actors.

Do you have many action setpieces?

Lucy:   Very much so. We spent the last two weeks together panting together. There’s a Primeval pant which you spend your days doing, which we introduced her to.

Naomi:   I took to it like a duck to water.

Lucy:   The last few weeks the storyline is myself, Naomi, Andrew and Hannah get caught up into something horrific, so we spent a lot of time towards the end of the shoot panting!

Do you have to get into shape for this series? Is it as physically demanding as it looks?

Lucy:   Yes it is.

Naomi:  I think it is advisable to be healthy anyway, because we’re working such long hours, that it’s not going to hurt you to be in good shape.

Lucy:   Filming anyway, no matter what you do, you need to be in pretty good shape. The hours that you put in and the lack of sleep.

Naomi:  I’m a bit of a ninja in this – I’ve got a badass roundhouse kick. We do have some fights. She’s a tough cookie. I had to have some martial arts lessons which I really loved. I like getting in there. I was a dancer ’til I was 19, so I’m flexible enough to be able to do it.

Does Jenny provide the love interest again for Cutter?

Lucy:   It’s a very difficult situation. Obviously I’m coming back looking, sounding exactly the same as someone he was in love with, although he realises fairly quickly that as much as he tries to convince me that I was somebody else – and how the hell would you ever respond to that anyway? – there’s obviously a natural chemistry that builds up between them, and she has weird flashes of “why am I feeling very drawn to this person?” She goes from “I’m here to do a job” to becoming more and more involved as the series goes on. There’s a sense of déjà vu, and flashes. When we meet Jenny, she’s engaged: she has a whole life in place that slowly falls away as the storyline continues.

How does she get on with Helen?

Lucy:   She only encounters Helen at the very end. She’s heard of her, she’s done her research from Lester, and got the whole thing: these are the problems, this is the ex-wife etc. I’m not approaching this as Claudia, I’m approaching her as Jenny, who’s probably a little bit more similar to Helen in terms of, “Are you backing down? Because I’m not!” as opposed to Claudia who went, “Well, you are his ex-wife so…” It’s quite an interesting standoff when Jenny and Helen do meet. I won’t say the outcome.

Do you get more recognition as a result of the first series?

Lucy:   In terms of the public, definitely because it’s obviously a very accessible show and lots of people watch it. For me, it really came towards the end when I disappeared, and I wasn’t prepared for the number of people who asked where I had gone. It was such a surprise when she disappeared, the whole cliffhanger of the show. It was fantastic: we’ve all spoken to people generally about the show, and it’s all been so positive.

When did you know that was going to happen to her?

Lucy:   Immediately, when I signed on. I knew where the storyline was going, and I knew I was going to be involved in the second series, so for me the interesting part was where they were going to take it. Of course, during the first series, the ideas were still buzzing around in the air on how it was going to happen. It was a really exciting time. I think what they’ve done, and the way they’ve written Jenny through this is incredibly interesting. The format has been shaken up in the second series and no one is quite what they seem. Just when you think you feel comfortable with where a character is going, it takes a sharp left…

The team is different already, even with the four who are still there. Cutter’s come back to a different reality of his own doing, and the whole world has gone a bit askew. The team’s not the same, so that’s got to be built up again, and there are all these new influences coming in, which throws everything up in the air again. Does Cutter still want to be there? Is he going to try to fix things or accept reality as it now is? What’s staying and what’s going?

You did location filming at Battersea Power Station…

Lucy:   That was so brilliant. I’ve lived in London for a long time, and it’s a building you pass, admire and wonder what’s inside. It was fantastic going in there. Amazing – you can point the camera anywhere and it’s fabulous. Except that I was in this tiny little dress, so I actually froze during most of it: huge gold heels and this gorgeous dress in dusty Battersea Power Station in autumn! Not quite how I imagined it.

Do you have to run away from the monsters?

Lucy:   I was talking to one of the directors and was saying that I was utterly amazed that I didn’t go over my ankle in the last bit. He was asking to do it again, and I was like, “Come on, are you just waiting for me to fall down?” Also in the ARC, there’s a huge ramp that comes down, and a couple of times they’d say, “Lucy, if you can just walk down the ramp…” I was the only one in five inch heels!

Do you get anxiety dreams about dinosaurs?

Lucy:   I dream about work every night that I’m on set because it’s such a massive part of your day, and a series like this is just so vivid, that I dream every night. I think I should still be on the payroll.

Naomi:  I don’t dream about it, I lie awake thinking, “Oh my god I’m going to be doing this in three hours – please go to sleep!”

Is there a good camaraderie on set?

Lucy:   Very much so. We were on this crazy set at the end of the shoot, with smoke and lighting, and Naomi has these fabulous personal photos of us all on set doing Michael Jackson walks.

Naomi:  It was a lot of fun, particularly with me coming in as a new member to this established cast as well. They all knew each other really well. But it was so welcoming. I was so worried because I didn’t know what I was getting involved with because sometimes when it’s such a high profile show, you never know what the attitudes of the people working there are going to be like. I was really pleasantly surprised. Everyone was really lovely and welcoming. It’s quite a young cast and such a high profile show that you wonder if people are going to be welcoming, if there’s going to be politics and diva-ish. They completely took myself and Karl [Theobald] on board and made us feel so welcome.

How do you find acting with dinosaurs?

Naomi A bit humiliating actually… You don’t actually act with the dinosaur. They put the dinosaur in afterwards. When you’re doing it, you’re breaking down into hysterics or about to hit something, or panting – and there’s this bunch of 25 year old guys from Framestore watching. You have to just get on with it, but actually they do it justice afterwards. They make you look good.

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