Interview with ‘Sherlock’ star Louise Brealey
The rubber gloves are going back on, Louise Brealey tells me. Best known for her role as Molly Hooper, the lovelorn pathologist in BBC’s Sherlock, Brealey will soon be starring in Joe Penhall’s play Birthday alongside Stephen Mangan at the Royal Court Theatre.
Birthday tells the story of Lisa and Ed, played by Mangan, who are having another baby and trying to make sure they do things differently this time. Brealey plays one of the doctors helping to deliver the child. ‘There’s KY Jelly involved and anal penetration,’ she adds.
Brealey is speaking to me at the autograph convention, Collectormania in Milton Keynes where she has spent the day meeting fans and signing memorabilia. She will be returning for the third series of Sherlock which will start filming in January. The modern-reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s consulting detective stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes while Martin Freeman plays his sidekick Dr. John Watson. Brealey says that her co-stars are ‘delightful and lovely’.
‘Martin’s absolutely hilarious, he’s constantly making jokes and making everyone laugh and they’re just a joy to watch. It’s really fun, right from the beginning, right from the scene where they meet, you just buy them as Sherlock and John and it’s just really good fun.’
She goes on to say: ‘I’m usually in the morgue which is less fun than the scene we did in Baker Street. But Merthyr Tydfil in January the morgue, it’s alright.’
‘We shot there right from the pilot yonks ago and the first time was a bit peculiar. It was a bit confronting, lots of people in the fridges and stuff. I was very curious. I remember asking the guy who works there about post-mortems.’
The finale of the second series of Sherlock saw the super sleuth plunge from the roof of St Bartholomew’s hospital in London supposedly to his death, only to appear very much alive in the closing shot. Soon after the episode aired the internet was rife with speculation and theories about how Sherlock had managed to survive, with suggestions that Brealey’s character had played an integral part.
‘The official line is that I know but I can’t tell you and if I did tell you I would be sacked. So they [fans] seem to respond quite well to that and don’t force me to. Yes, they do ask me all the time. Quite right too and there were a lot more questions at the time. It’s calmed down slightly.’
Molly was only supposed to appear in the pilot to show the audience Sherlock’s lack of interest in women however, Brealey’s performance impressed the show creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat so much that her role was extended.
Although she is only in a handful of scenes, she is well-loved by fans. ‘I think she’s very unthreatening and she’s very girl-next-door and I do think that young women, girls, they can identify with her and men don’t feel threatened by her. So, she just a sort of ordinary woman surrounded by these extraordinary people and in that respect she is a way in for the audience and also she’s also quite sweet.’
Brealey adds: ‘If you’re a young woman and you really want to sleep with Sherlock, there’s a young woman on the screen who really wants to sleep Sherlock, you’re going to identify with her.’ Saying this, she states that she’s not like Molly. ‘I wouldn’t let a man talk to me like that however, I think, who hasn’t made a complete tit out of themselves over some bloke?’
The programme has garnered mass appeal in Britain to rival even that of Doctor Who, while the second series of Sherlock has recently been aired in America to critical acclaim, but did Brealey think it would be such a huge success? ‘No, we all knew it was brilliant but I don’t think we knew that everyone would think it’s brilliant.’
Along with acting, Brealey is a successful journalist and has written for numerous publications such as Empire, Total Film and Wonderland magazine. ‘I think the best thing is that I get to do both. If I had to choose, it would be acting, it’s very hard once you’ve acted at all. It’s like poison in your veins that will not release you forever. You want to but you can’t but to do it. Writing is something I’ve done for a long time. I’d miss it terribly if I wasn’t allowed to do it anymore. So, I’m just extremely lucky that I get to do both.’
She has interviewed hundreds of people, including Angelina Jolie, Russell Crowe and Colin Firth. I ask her who has been the most compelling interviewee and she pauses for a moment before answering. ‘In terms of the pure celebrity factor, I interviewed Liv Tyler in New York and she invited me to her house because it was too noisy in the place we were interviewing. We ended up in her kitchen having a takeaway and smoking Marlboro Lights and we were duetting Gram Parsons love songs because we were both broken-hearted.’
‘So that was fun but it’s just a real privilege when you can actually have a real encounter with someone. I think increasingly you don’t get a chance to do that, you’ve got the PR and you’ve got your 15-minute slot and it’s carefully micromanaged.’
As to forthcoming projects, she tells me that she will be going back to the BBC to do documentary research and some other writing projects but she is reluctant to give too much away because most are in the early stages of development.
‘Birthday’ will be running from now until 4th August at the Royal Court Theatre
For information about Collectormania visit: www.collectormania.com
Image credit: Neela Debnath/The IndependentTagged in: royal court theatre, sherlock
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