Jenna attended an exclusive screening for the movie After Sun alongside her Wilderness Co-star Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Images have been added to our gallery, enjoy!
The actors will bring a revival of Sam Steiner’s 2015 play Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons to London, Manchester and Brighton, directed by Josie Rourke
- Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons is at the Harold Pinter theatre, London, from 18 January to 18 March. It then runs at Manchester Opera House (21-25 March) and Theatre Royal Brighton (28 March-1 April).
Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner are to star together in a play that imagines a world where people are restricted to a daily limit of 140 words each.
Sam Steiner’s 2015 drama Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons will be revived by Josie Rourke at the Harold Pinter theatre in London in January before playing at Manchester Opera House and Theatre Royal Brighton.
A two-hander, the play shows the impact on one couple of a “hush law” imposed by the government. “As sheer theatre, the central idea is a dazzler,” said Rourke. “Here is a world in which you’re restricted to 140 words a day. You see these two characters before and after that word count restriction is in place. Are they a better or stronger couple with more words?”
In the most straightforward sense, it’s a play in which “two people meet, fall in love, mature together, grow apart and battle to stay as a unit,” she continued. “Like any great relationship drama there is the breathless jeopardy of will they/won’t they? That’s exciting and particularly dynamic when they’re doing that within this word limit. It’s thrilling in this play because Sam Steiner plays with this big idea and with time.”
Coleman and Turner are “both brilliant at making complex things clear and moving” said Rourke. Steiner praised the pair for combining “magnetic charisma with a real humanity and nuance”. Coleman played the Doctor’s companion Clara in Doctor Who and starred in both The Serpent and The Sandman on television; she appeared on stage in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Old Vic in 2019. Turner, best known for playing the title role of the BBC’s Poldark, starred earlier this year as a psychologist in ITV’s The Suspect; he appeared in a 2018 West End production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
Steiner, who in later plays imagined Kanye West’s reincarnation as a middle-class Brit and built a story around a game of table tennis, described Lemons as “a romcom about communication on both a personal and political scale”. He added: “I think the play’s central exploration of the way we derive meaning from language, its capacity to both liberate and limit us, to connect us and keep us apart, has only grown more resonant in the years since it was written.”
The impact of such a “hush law” on daily life and “the restriction that places on discussing the big stuff” makes the play “profoundly funny, dangerous and moving” said Rourke. “We are in a moment where – however indirectly – theatre needs to help us to digest how we lived and changed through the extremes of the past few years. Sam’s play allows us to find the humanity in how people and couples work through extreme situations. There is the potential for great joy, fun, reflection and healing in that.”
Steiner’s play premiered at Warwick Arts Centre in 2015 and was lauded at the National student drama festival before having three runs at the Edinburgh fringe. “The play was written to be performed in tiny rooms for friends of friends without set, props, lighting or sound design – a practical necessity that we wrestled into an aesthetic choice,” said Steiner. “So the idea of revisiting the play in this context with such an alarmingly inspiring creative team feels like a dizzying, ridiculous and deeply thrilling creative challenge.”
Netflix’s long-awaited The Sandman — based on Neil Gaiman’s much-loved comic series — proved to be something of a hit for the streamer, amassing a billion minutes of viewing and storming to the top of its own charts just three days after its release back in August. The series also managed to charm both critics and fans, praised for its lavish fantasy world and the emotional depth of it characters.
A significant amount of the noise has centered on Johanna Constantine, the occult detective with a penchant for exorcisms. Jenna Coleman plays two iterations of the character: one based in the modern day (effectively a gender-flipper version of DC superhero John Constantine), the other her identical 18th-century ancestor. Although Johanna only appeared in a few episodes, it wasn’t long before there were calls for her to be given her own spinoff series.
Coleman wasn’t around to bathe in the glory, however, having spent the last few months trekking across various parts of North America shooting limited series Wilderness, Amazon Prime’s road-trip love story from director So Yong Kim, in which she stars alongside Oliver Jackson-Cohen. And having finally wrapped in the Grand Canyon in late September, Coleman is back in the U.K. for the world premiere of an entirely different project: actor-turned-filmmaker Neil Maskell’s directorial debut Klokkenluider.
A darkly comic, Ben Wheatley-produced thriller about a hapless government whistleblower and his partner sent to hide in a remote Belgian cottage (klokkenluider is Dutch for “whistleblower”), the movie is getting its first bow at the BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 8. Klokkenluider also marks the first major film role for Coleman following a decade of an extraordinary sharp rise on the small screen after her major breakthrough as Doctor Who companion Clara Oswald back in 2012.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Coleman discusses shooting Klokkenluider in lockdown (while living in a big house and sending people out for groceries), Gaiman’s enthusiasm for seeing more of her Johanna Constantine on screen, and whether or not the public support for her character was behind Warner Bros. finally announcing its long-awaited Constantine sequel starring Keanu Reeves.
You must be delighted about the reaction to The Sandman and in particular your character Johanna Constantine.
I’m so thrilled. It was obviously one of those shows that’s so difficult to adapt and that’s why it’s been 30 years in the making. I managed to get over to Comic-Con and hung out with Neil and everyone there and see the trailer for the first time, so to see the whole Gaim-ian imagination and see his world depicted cinematically, it’s been really thrilling. And I feel like it’s had a great reaction amongst the fans as well as the critics.
Have you had a chance to watch it yourself?
I haven’t seen it yet! Wilderness has been one of those shows that’s so intense that I haven’t actually been able to watch anything for ages. It’s been mad hours and lots of traveling. But everyone else seems to love it!
Have you heard all the calls for a Johanna Constantine spinoff series?
I have, from Neil himself! One of the reasons that I wanted to do it was that the character felt so formed, and what was really thoughtful of Neil and Allan [Heinberg] is that they sent the script over to me, but they didn’t tell me who the character was. So I didn’t know it was Constantine when I read it. So I formed my own thoughts about who this person was without having any preconceptions of Constantine before, which was really smart. But yeah, Neil filled me in.
And is it something he’d like to do?
Yeah, he and Allan are really behind it. They seem to think it would be a good idea.
And have you heard any news about a second season being commissioned?
I haven’t. I know that talks are going ahead at the moment, but I’ve been pretty off-grid in the Arizona desert.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that shortly after The Sandman launched, Warner Bros. confirmed the Constantine film sequel with Keanu Reeves.
I couldn’t comment, but Constantine in his and her many forms seems to be making a bit of a comeback. I’d love to take credit for it!
How does it feel to be sort of related to Keanu Reeves and also taking over from Keanu Reeves?
I know, I’ve been enjoying that. I’ve actually been walking around saying I’m basically Keanu Reeves.
You’re starring in Klokkenluider, which is having its world premiere at the London Film Festival. From the trailer, it looks a little nuts. Can you describe it?
It’s totally nuts. I’ve actually just watched it on the train, and I absolutely adore dark comedy and I’m a fan of Ben Wheatley, who’s produced this. It’s got this very unnerving, claustrophobic, pranging off-kilter feel to it. You have a sense of unease watching it the whole way, but the comedy set against that takes you off in such a different direction. Neil [Maskell]’s writing is so razor sharp and hilarious, so the whole time you have this creeping sense of dread. I have to say, Tom Burke and Roger Evans are absolutely hilarious, and it was one of those jobs where we did a lot of takes and would improvise, and seeing them as a comedy duo, with these dark undertones, was brilliant.
Last time I saw Neil, he was chopping off fingers in the absolutely brutal Bull. This doesn’t sound remotely as bloody.
No, it’s definitely not as bloody. It’s a comedy thriller that sort of sends you in a different direction and then the comedy makes you feel settled for a second and then it’s undercut and it shifts. It’s very much about leading the audience into a false sense of security. It’s very unpredictable.
You’ve obviously been doing a lot of TV over the years. Is this your first film role in some time?
Yes, it has been quite a while. I had a period where I was working on Doctor Who and then three weeks later went straight onto Victoria, and then a play, and then The Serpent, which was a very protracted series, and then Klokkenluider was one of the first scripts I read in lockdown and was a lockdown shoot that we did. It felt joyous to make in so many ways. It was made with such little money as well. What we all had to was pretty much live in this big house together and had three weeks to shoot it, literally sending people out for groceries because we couldn’t leave. It felt like a real labor of love to get it made. And Neil was great. You could see he was in his element for his first movie.
And did it feel nice to take a break from TV? Would you like to do more film?
Yeah, I’d absolutely love to get into the indie film world more. Especially having done a couple of long jobs and the beauty of something being more auteured, you get to step into that world and it’s not such a big commitment. But the thing is, right now there are so many good scripts in TV as well.
You mentioned Doctor Who. It’s been a few years since you’ve been in the TARDIS, but do you still check in with all things Whovian and are you excited about the incoming reign of Ncuti Gatwa?
Yeah, very excited. And obviously to see Russell T. Davies back at the helm. I still speak to Matt (Smith) and Peter (Capaldi). I got a really nice message from Steven (Moffat) the other day saying it was 10 years since I’d been on it, which was terrifying. But yeah, it’s very much like a family. I feel like it’s one of those jobs that never leaves you.
“There aren’t many female roles like that – she is really complex and layered; she uses humour as a defence mechanism, but she is obviously a really tortured soul,” Coleman says, adding with a laugh: “I mean she is an exorcist”.
A unique character in the comic book space it may be, but this role is also strikingly different to anything Coleman has done before. Of course, this was all part of the appeal. “Look I am not the first person you would think of for this role, but I love that Neil tried to invert the expectations of the character by coming to me. It was a very, very different role from what I have played before.”
And, although some hardcore fans of The Sandman may of course have their opinions about any diversions from the original story, Coleman says that this is not the role she has felt the most pressure with. “It is far more daunting to play real-life people,” she says of some of the former parts she’s taken on. “There is a certain kind of responsibility when it is a life and an experience that someone has actually had.”
Your instincts are telling you things for a reason – you should listen to them, be guided by them
On dealing with working under this type of scrutiny, Coleman says she has learnt a lot during her time in the spotlight, and if she could give any advice to her younger self? “Drown out the noise.”
“Being in the public eye is such an unusual experience,” she says. “I know it sounds simple, but it is incredibly important to trust your own instincts. I have definitely spent way too much time over the years second-guessing myself or not trusting my gut. Your instincts are telling you things for a reason, and you should actually listen to them, be guided by them.”
“In this industry, there is a lot of noise and so many voices coming at you. It’s good to keep coming back to yourself – don’t be swayed by outside opinions.”
This is true for so many elements of the job, she says, some of which are more stressful than others.
Fashion can change the way that you feel; it can change how you put yourself out in the world
“With the red carpet, that can give me a lot of anxiety,” she says. “It is such a circus – it is such an unnatural thing for a human being to be doing – to have loads of people shouting your name and pointing cameras at you. I often think about how strange that is, but actually what I do really enjoy is the creativity that goes into those moments – dressing up, the hair, the make-up, putting things together creatively.”
Coleman says that she fully feels the power of fashion, partly because of her work, where the costumes “just change everything about the way you feel and the way you move”.
“It is so important to me – it completely transforms the way you hold your body. As an actor, that is so key – but there are microcosms of that in everyday life, too. Of course it’s different for everyone, but perhaps you know that putting on some red lipstick will make you feel put together, or wearing colour will put you in a better mood.
“Fashion can change the way that you feel; it can change how you put yourself out in the world – that can be really important. And also, it can just be really fun.”
Jenna wears black wool tweed and silk jacket with embellished denim trousers, both by Chanel; and Coco Crush gold and diamond earrings, and Coco Crush yellow gold ring, both by Chanel Fine Jewellery.
Styling by Rebecca Corbin Murray, photography by Olivia Lifungula, hair by Dan Martin and make-up by Lucy Bert.
Jenna stars in ‘The Sandman’, which is available to watch on Netflix now.