Jenna was on BBC Radio 2 this morning with Victoria co-star Tom Hughes,I’ve added images of her during the show a photoshoot which was taken during the interview and leaving the studios! Enjoy!
Jenna was featured on BBC Radio 1 yesterday to talk about Victoria, I’ve added photos of her during the interview and leaving BBC Radio 1 to our gallery,enjoy!
I’ve added a photoshoot of Jenna for the Guardian,you can also read her interview below,enjoy!
It took a long time to get any meetings. I had to take a job at a pub in Hampstead.’ Photograph: Jon Gorrigan for the Guardian
“I don’t like that word,” says Jenna Coleman, wrinkling her nose. “People describe me as that a lot, and it makes me cringe. It feels dirty.”
In the garden lounge of a London hotel, we are talking about the word driven. “Something about it feels ruthless, which doesn’t sit well with me.” It would be impossible to describe the gentle, slightly reticent presence next to me as gimlet-eyed. But it’s also hard to describe her rise without sensing that ambition and determination must have played a part. Her first job, at just 19, was wild child Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale. Intended to be a small role, she grew into a series regular, and Coleman set aside thoughts of drama school to play her for five years. She followed this with acclaimed BBC series Waterloo Road, original dramas by Julian Fellowes and Stephen Poliakoff, and then the big one. In 2012 she was anointed Clara Oswald, the sparky and instantly lovable companion to Doctor Who, beamed into millions of households across the world. These things don’t just happen.
She’s about to return in a leading role, playing Queen Victoria in ITV’s high-budget chronicle of the formidable monarch. It’s rare for British actors to hold the public’s attention, or enjoy quality parts, after abandoning an established soap character. Sarah Lancashire did it; arguably Martine McCutcheon did it, for a while. But on the whole, the less familiar you are the better. Jude Law’s start on daytime soap Families is now forgotten, likewise Ioan Gruffudd’s five years on Welsh-language Pobol y Cwm. (Most implausibly, Sir Ben Kingsley spent two years on Coronation Street in the 1960s, having an affair with Ken Barlow’s wife Val.) So how did Coleman travel from farm to castle in such a short time? Presumably having a Tardis helps.
“A lot of interviews talk about Emmerdale and then Doctor Who – but there were six years between those,” she protests. “You should have seen me when I was trying to get an agent. It was like, ‘I’ve only worked in soap, I’ve not been to drama school, I’m 22 years old and haven’t worked for a year. I’m a great catch!’ ” She’d stayed longer than she wanted to on Emmerdale; despite having been nominated for best newcomer at the National Television Awards, it took her a long time to be considered for significant roles afterwards. “I’m northern, and working class, so people put you in a box. It’s crazy.” She would be sent scripts for supporting characters with northern accents, “and I’d be pointing out different parts, saying, ‘I think I can do that.’ It took a long time to get any meetings. I had to take a job at a pub in Hampstead.”
She’s describing the kind of unpromising situation that can consume young actors for a decade or longer, but her zeal to turn things around marks her out. She became an avid self-taper, sending casting directors scene footage in very different roles, showing off her range. “I love playing away from myself, expanding people’s perceptions.” She took herself out to LA for pilot season, where she went up for various unattainable parts, returning home jobless but fearless, and rich in audition experience.
It paid off. The Beeb started taking note, and Coleman has since impressed in all her high-profile roles. She was wounded and aggressive as hard girl Lindsay James in Waterloo Road, impertinent as Oswald (she won the role because she could talk faster than Matt Smith). As Victoria, she is at her most vulnerable playing the young Queen; the arc toward the obstinate and grand presence Victoria eventually becomes is one Coleman is relishing.
So, isn’t there anything embarrassing on her CV at all? “I did a lot of dance shows as a child: when I was 10 I played an Italian bridesmaid with Darren Day in Summer Holiday, the musical. I got the job by singing Happy Birthday to myself in the audition, literally inserting my own name into the song” she breaks off, laughing to herself. “Sorry, I’ve got Peter Capaldi in my head. He always takes the piss out of me for that.” She mimics Capaldi’s impression of a theatrical impresario, boasting about his latest protege: “This one, oh, she started young… hahaha!”
Her affection for her former Time Lord is clear. She originally joined the BBC’s flagship show as a viable love interest for Matt Smith, the pair flirting like colts and even kissing. However it was when the Doctor regenerated into Capaldi’s grouchy, blepharitic form that things got really interesting. Negotiating Clara’s love-anger at the disappearance of her handsome suitor and guilt towards the older man who needs her, was a skilful balancing act, resolving itself in a deeply touching relationship.
“Peter is so graceful. His work is detailed, sensitive, intuitive; I’d love to be like him when I’m older. We have our own bizarre language, and make each other laugh.” She admits that working on the genre-pushing show taught her a lot. (She stayed on the show for three years.) “It moves from comedy to action film to farce; it’s domestic and epic. Peter and Matt do takes in so many ways, throw so many balls in the air – it’s an invaluable experience.” Heading off the inevitable, she adds, “Fans always ask which Doctor I prefer, but it’s a question I can’t answer.” It’s obviously Peter though, isn’t it? “Hahaha! I usually say David Tennant.”
She’s also having fun with Victoria co-star Rufus Sewell, who plays Lord M, her most trusted adviser. “They had an indefinable relationship: prime minister and Queen, but also father and daughter; some said they were lovers, too. He spent every night at the palace, and she became totally obsessed with him. The public drew cartoons calling her Mrs Melbourne.”
Victoria is about other unusual relationships: that of the young queen and her manipulative German mother, who devised a system of rules to keep Victoria isolated and dependent; and the first cousin to whom she proposed. “On one level they’re Vic and Albert, teenage lovers getting to know each other. But they’re also playing roles, because it’s a unique business transaction.” Negotiating these contradictions, and avoiding the lavish blandness typical of many period dramas, is what concerns Coleman most.
“You have to keep fighting for detail. You have to use the set creatively. There’s so much life in a palace that we don’t usually see.” Many of Victoria’s dresses and personal artefacts are on public display at Kensington Palace, her childhood home. Coleman researched these assiduously, mining period texts as well as Victoria’s own journals, in which she wrote an estimated 60m words. “The best research material I saw was actually her paintings. Her daughter censored the diaries, but the watercolours really let you see through her eyes. I found one of her governess, with lots of detail and colour, and then one of her mother, which is in silhouette and black.”
Did she avoid watching The Young Victoria, Emily Blunt’s earlier interpretation? “Oh no, I didn’t shy away from that, or Judi Dench’s Mrs Brown – we’re telling the untold story between those two points. Emily does a great ‘soft regal’ voice which helped me. Normally when I read scripts, a voice for the character jumps out at me, but this was harder. It changes over time. I used Kate Winslet’s Marianne from Sense And Sensibility, too, to find passion.” Coleman closely examined films such as Jane Campion’s Bright Star and Saul Dibb’s The Duchess, “trying to pick up the era – how does a footman pass me, how do I respond? The tiny unconscious things of that world.”
There have been a lot of proposals. You feel responsible for making it a romantic moment
What was she most attracted to in the character? “Her flaws. She was impatient and emotional, and had this absolute will. Her ladies in waiting describe her as the most stubborn person you’d ever meet, and they were her best friends.” Charming. How would Coleman’s own circle of friends describe her? “Oh – I don’t know. It’s intriguing. You never know how people see you, do you? I’ll text one and ask,” she says, fiddling with her phone. “They’ll probably say ‘Shut up, I’m at work. We have proper jobs.’ ”
Coleman was born in Blackpool, “which everyone dismisses as stag-and-hen central, but has a charm you don’t appreciate until you leave. Something to do with faded 50s glamour and nostalgia.” Her grandfather, now in his late 70s, has worked on the seafront all his life and still does, “getting on his bike and working the hoopla”. With no other performers in her family, she counts herself fortunate to have been shown a way to pursue acting. At school she became obsessed with the polymath Anthony Minghella, devouring his plays and studying his process as a film director, which involved an unusual degree of involvement in every department, from costume to props to camera, as well as acting as producer. Another influence was her drama teacher at Arnold School, Colin Snell, who treated his students as adults, encouraging them to think and act for themselves. “We operated a semi-professional theatre company. He’d take us up to the Edinburgh fringe festival. I was lucky to fall in with him – I just moved school and he was there. The place has been bulldozed now.”
Coleman is aware of how far her life has moved in the past four years. “I was filming in Paris last week, Florence the week before – oh my God, that sounds really jet-setty, doesn’t it?” she asks with a flash of horror. She recently bought her own place in London, but has yet to stay there. The strangest facet of fame is dealing with fans; a factor multiplied tenfold with Doctor Who, which is popular in places as far-flung as South Korea and Brazil. At international Comic-Con events, galaxies of ultra-fans queue in their thousands to meet her, dress like her, and ask her nerdy questions she can’t answer. (Before she got the job, she hadn’t even seen the show.)
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened at one? “There have been a lot of proposals. I’ve had two – but they’re always a bit rushed, and you feel responsible for making it a romantic moment.” That’s very generous. What does she say? “Congratulations?” Isn’t that a weird thing to say when someone asks to marry you? “They’re not proposing to me! They come in with their partner and propose with me in the middle.”
Her own love life has inevitably come under scrutiny, in particular her reportedly on and off relationship with Game Of Thrones actor Richard Madden. Last year she was pictured chatting with Prince Harry at a polo event, the royal hand on her knee. Tabloid speculation inevitably ran rampant that she was dating the playboy Prince. “We’re just friends,” she says. “I don’t really want to talk about him – we’re still friends, and I don’t think it’s fair.”
That button-bright face, with its optimistic features, belies the birthday she celebrated a few weeks before we meet. “Yeah, I spent it filming in Italy, with glandular fever. I mean, what does 30 mean? I remember picking up my diary on the day, waiting to be struck by some profound realisation, and…” She leaves a comically long pause. “Well, I’m not sure yet, but I’m enjoying getting older. I have always looked a lot younger than I am.”
She has a certain ambivalence about her elfin appearance, though at 5ft 2in Coleman is still taller than the diminutive Victoria, who only stood 4ft 11in. Much is made in the series of the Queen’s height, and her struggle to be taken seriously. Can she relate? “Drama school can’t teach you how to hold your own on a set, how to come into a huge crew, with big cameras and men everywhere. That took a long time – I’m still working it out, really.” She comes back to an image of the teenage Victoria suffering from typhoid, pressurised to abdicate her powers. “She’s ill in bed, surrounded by men in wigs trying to make her sign a regency. I would never do what she did – which is turn around and say no. I find that fascinating.”
Stories like these make it obvious that Coleman is in her element on set – with disappointingly little tendency towards diva behaviour. She tells a story about filming with a younger, less experienced actor on Doctor Who. “There’s a type of mark [tape stuck to the floor to show an actor where to stand] we use called a sausage – it’s slightly raised so when you hit your mark you can feel it. I was calling out, ’Can I get a sausage, please?’ His face! He stood there for 10 minutes, thinking he was waiting for Jenna’s 11am sausage to arrive.” She cackles, then considers. “Although I’ve done lots of scenes with Dash (Victoria’s beloved spaniel) recently, and we have to bribe him, so a lot of the time I actually am walking around with a little sausage in my hand.”
Despite her early success, she is keen to keep learning. She lists her favourite actors, all strong women with impeccable CVs, particularly on stage. “Helen McCrory, Ruth Wilson, Denise Gough – actors whose whole bodies are alive, you can’t take your eyes off them.” She talks with approval about the creative risk of Matt Smith’s current job, an improvised and ever-changing Anthony Neilson play at the Royal Court in London. Coleman has recently made the foray into big films, playing opposite Emilia Clarke in Me Before You. Do her ambitions lie in Hollywood?
“No, not hugely. I’ll chase a great part in a great script wherever it is. I’d never live in LA – it’s always a relief to come home and talk about other things.” She’s secure enough not to need a plan, confident enough to stop nailing the accelerator. Having spent four years on Who, followed by six months on Victoria, she’s allowing herself to relax a little. Well, sort of. “I’m taking some time off – you become boring when all you see in life is a trailer. I’m going to read, pick up my camera. I’m keeping a journal, writing stories and short films. There’s talk of some plays.”
She looks set to confound the curse of the companion, many of whom have sunk back into obscurity after their appointment with the Doctor. And of course, Coleman has form when it comes to overcoming expectations. When was the last time she watched Emmerdale? “A long time ago. I think I’m still in prison.” (Her character left after beating a policeman to death with a chair leg and dumping the body in a lake with her lesbian lover.)
For now, it’s checkout time. From here Coleman is off to New York, then LA for promotional duties (Victoria will air there, on the same channel as Downton Abbey), then has plans to take off around Italy, having rewatched The Talented Mr Ripley. Before she heads off, her phone pings. It’s her friend Amanda, taking time out from her proper job to tell a famous friend what she’s really like. Coleman reads the text aloud, in a deadpan voice. “What is Jenna like? Fucking small, weirdly so. Hmm. Cheeky, shy and –” she wrinkles her nose in distaste, before resigning herself to the verdict. “Driven! Well… I guess it might be true.”
• Victoria starts on ITV on 28 August
As Clara Oswald on the beloved British sci-fi series Doctor Who, actor Jenna Coleman filled many roles: curious adventurer, schoolteacher, formidable companion to an alien (The Doctor), space detective, young woman in love, and universe-defender. The satisfyingly absurd world of Who is grounded in the sincerity of its actors, and over the course of three series, the show’s 50th anniversary, and two incarnations of The Doctor (Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi, respectively), it was apparent that Coleman understood just that. Balancing the serious and comic, at times questioning The Doctor and at others following him without reservation, she served as the viewer’s point of entry into an engaging, unpredictable story. While fans watched her final episode as Clara air earlier this month, Coleman’s exit from Who had been in the works for a year prior to her wrapping filming in August.
“It definitely felt like her time was up,” she says of her character. “And that kind of ended up being what the story was as well. You had to let go and move forward… It felt like a natural end. It made sense, and it made sense in a story sense. I was willing to stay in order to tell a good story.”
Now, after four years of acting training by intergalactic time travel, the Blackpool-born actor’s return to earthbound roles in 2016 is all the more compelling. The 29-year-old’s upcoming projects include Me Before You, Thea Sharrock’s much-anticipated adaptation of the Jojo Moyes novel starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin (Coleman plays Clarke’s younger sister, Katrina), and the ITV series Victoria, in which Coleman plays Queen Victoria. Coleman seems uniquely suited to play the British queen, as the role contains a tension between the surreal and the banal that is quite familiar to Who. “Playing between girl and queen is really interesting,” she says. “There’s a marriage between her just being a normal, 18-year-old girl and having those impulses, and at the same time being queen and having such a clear sense of duty and faith. She knows what her duty is and happens to be queen, but at the same time she’s an 18-year-old girl who likes balls and dances.”
We spoke to Coleman over the phone just after she wrapped filming Victoria for the holidays. Like many of her fans, she’ll be watching Doctor Who’s Christmas Special, although she won’t appear on screen. “I’ll be sitting with my family watching,” she tells us. “No doubt.”
HALEY WEISS: Has it been emotional to watch your final Doctor Who episodes air?
JENNA COLEMAN: It’s really weird. I went around to Peter [Capaldi]’s house with Steven [Moffat, the show’s writer], Brian [Minchin] our producer, and Mark Gatiss. We all watched [my final episode] together. It’s just great fun and the best thing about Doctor Who is that the storytelling is so epic and huge, and so whimsical and romantic. I always find that even though it’s sci-fi, it’s a fairytale as well. It was lovely to watch it all together, but the goodbye had been in the works for so long. To have it done on screen now, and to no longer have those working relationships that have been a part of my life for four years is quite strange but also exhilarating. It’s been a mad and weird and wonderful part of my life for the last four years, but it feels like the next chapter, in a way, which is great.
WEISS: What will you miss most about playing Clara?
COLEMAN: I’ll mainly miss Peter. [laughs] It’s so rare that you get a show that is effectively a two-hander—it’s you two, all day, every day. Also every day is different, there’s no day that’s the same. Every two weeks you change episodes, you have a different cast, and you go to a different planet. You get to do weird stunts upside down, you play off a green screen, and then suddenly do a really domestic, emotional scene. As an actor, you can go anywhere. There’s not really a limit in that show where you’re stuck to a genre because it’s so changeable and dynamic. It’s that storytelling that I’ll miss the most and Peter, because we spent the best part of two and a half years together. But the show will move forward, as it does, and become something else, which is what makes it so special.
WEISS: How do you think the show changed you as an actor?
COLEMAN: I don’t know the answer to that yet. To be honest, I think it’s the people that you work with who change you the most. I think working with Peter has made me…not be scared of a right and a wrong—trying to do as many options as possible for the edit, exploring as much as possible and throwing ideas in the air and seeing where it takes you.
WEISS: What was your first acting role?
COLEMAN: I did something when I was 10, actually. I did a professional musical. I had to go and sing happy birthday to myself, which was a tough part. I got to leave school early and do the show. It went across the summer for about eight weeks or something like that. That was my first part, and I think that’s probably when I realized that I loved it and it’s what I wanted to do. Then I carried on with my studies and did loads of plays, and then I was 19 when I got my first proper job on a show called Emmerdale where I played the vicar’s niece gone bad. That’s how it all started.
WEISS: Did you enjoy school or were you eager to get out and start working?
COLEMAN: I loved school, I really did. In fact, I’m just back in London for the first time in ages and caught up, quite luckily, with loads of my schoolmates who live in London. We had all moved down together but we all do completely different things. I was really lucky for the friends that I had and loved every minute of it. I don’t think I was a geek, but I loved the studies and we had a really good theater company at our school. We went to the Fringe Festival every year, put on plays together, and travelled around the country with these little companies we set up.
WEISS: So you moved to London when you did Emmerdale?
COLEMAN: I moved to London after my first job. I lived in Leeds for a couple of years and then moved straight down to London when I was probably 22 and tried to go to drama school. I auditioned for drama school again and then I ended up getting another job. I kind of rolled from job to job, skipping drama school.
WEISS: Do you have any interest in going to drama school now?
COLEMAN: I’d love to; I feel that it’s something that I’ve missed. I really want to do a play again. I’ve kind of gone from TV series to TV series or project to project, and I’ve wanted to get back in a rehearsal room. I feel like there’s that exploration process, in a way, that you get in phases on jobs but I do wish I had that time [at school]. I realized when I was about 24 if I was to go until I was 27 that there would be a playing age that I’d miss of parts that I wanted to do, and things seemed to be headed my way. I wish that I had it, but I suppose I’ve had it in spurts on jobs, really.
WEISS: What did you think of Jojo Moyes’ book Me Before You?
COLEMAN: I thought it was heartbreaking. I think Jojo’s book is beautiful. I’ve just been given After You, the sequel, to read. It’s one of those films where it’s about the chemistry between the two [main characters]. It’s a romantic story but set in such a reality that it can never be, it can’t be, but yet that doesn’t make it any less charming. It’s the reality of these two people that should be together but they’re in these unimaginable circumstances, which makes for a really interesting but ultimately tragic story but it’s something that’s still full of hope at the end, which is quite a unique combination.
WEISS: Katrina Clark, your character in Me Before You, is very independent in some ways, but very reliant upon Louisa and her family in others. What was your sense of her as a character?
COLEMAN: My auntie, actually, I kept thinking about my auntie a lot. She’s somebody who knows who she is—she really knows who she is—but she’s kind of annoying in a way. [laughs] She’s one of those people who will always tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it. She’s the voice of reason, but often when you’re not ready to hear that voice of reason, but she’s like a rock. She’ll be there, she’s stubborn, she knows her own mind, and she’s really strong. And as sisters, I think [Katrina and Louisa are] an interesting pair because they’re complete opposites. They’re totally different; it’s a bit of a love-hate relationship, in a way. If they weren’t sisters they would probably never be friends at all but there’s such a sense of loyalty between them. They have a special sisterly spark but they’re complete opposites.
WEISS: Does it feel different to not only be playing a new character as Queen Victoria in Victoria, but also a historical figure?
COLEMAN: Yeah, it does. I’ve never played anybody real before. I played fictional characters like Lydia Wickham [in Death Comes to Pemberley] but never anybody who really existed, so that is quite a different feeling. I’ve been over to Kensington Palace and stood in the room where she was born and stood in the room where she held her first Privy Council meeting as queen. You can read her diary firsthand, what she wrote and how she felt on the day she was coronated, on the day she was married, even having arguments with her mother and more domestic things. The resource of material is fascinating, and she had fascinating relationships and such a unique life. She became queen when she was 18 years old and it wasn’t that long ago either. It’s a really remarkable story.
WEISS: Do you find that at some point in doing all of that research, you have to separate yourself from the knowledge you’ve gained and just take on the character?
COLEMAN: Absolutely. That’s the thing about prep, is that it’s a joy to have it there and you can spend all this time prepping, but ultimately you have to look at your script and turn up on the day. It’s embedded in there somewhere but you have to forget it all and play the scene because we are storytelling. There’s a lot of historical events we’re being very true to but you have to do your version of, I think. I’ve been watching a lot, like Emily Blunt in Queen Victoria and Judi Dench in Mrs Brown, so there’s an essence of an idea that you can get from what you read but ultimately, I think you have to be true to the script that you’re given. It’s a real joy to have the research around it but you definitely have to leave it behind and just play the scenes.
WEISS: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about Queen Victoria?
COLEMAN: In her diaries she writes in capitals a lot. It’s quite interesting and quite telling. If there’s something she really enjoyed or wanted to emphasize, she’ll write in capitals. It shows just how impulsive she was, and how guileless. And she’s very open. These diaries that we’re reading have been censored by her daughter, but she talks about her wedding night with Albert, she talks about waking up at 4 AM on the day she was being coronated and being able to hear the crowds outside and hear what the people were saying. It’s amazing how frank she is and how contradictory she is; she’s extremely passionate and a romantic and very young in lots of ways, yet she’s completely practical and quite stubborn and wise as well. She’s this strange mixed bag of all of these qualities. She was obsessed with the theater, ballet, and the melodrama in opera. She used to sketch. The most interesting thing I’ve seen is that she used to watercolor, she was an artist, and there’s her sketchbook where you can see what she draws, like a scene she’s seen in an opera or she met some gypsies once and she draws the gypsies and their families. That’s probably the most telling thing, her drawings. She draws herself in a couple of self-portraits as well. Looking at her sketches probably gives you the best insight into her temperament, her mind, and what was occupying her, what she sees. Her sketches have probably told me the most.
WEISS: It’s amazing that you’re able to get such a sense of her internal life.
COLEMAN: I know, it’s incredible, it really is. I think so many people see Victoria as the lady in black who was widowed at 42 and looks quite stern. When you think of Victoria, you think of Victoria in her 60s and a lot of people don’t really know the story of the 18-year-old who was full of enthusiasm and passion for life and the arts.
BBC released this video of Jenna reflecting back on her time on Doctor Who, I’ve added HQ screencaps to the gallery as well!
BBC Doctor Who have released a new video of Jenna Coleman discussing the upcoming Doctor Who episode “Before The Flood”
Doctor Who star Jenna Coleman shares her secret to success and tells us how even working with Peter Capaldi isn’t improving her ability to do a Scottish accent in this edition of our 60 Second Challenge. Jenna is nominated for her role as Clara Oswald at the upcoming British Academy Cymru Awards which take place Sunday. Source