Friday, 26 March 2010

Show as yer tits! (Redux)

The word is out. I'm like a cab for hire when it comes to showing some flesh. And now even the plumber knows about it.

We have a leaky faucet in the bathroom and Alan the plumber very kindly came round to fix it this morning. I happened to mention that I was going to be playing opposite Jim Broadbent in Any Human Heart (as you can imagine I've been telling everybody, even complete strangers). But I left out the part about playing a prostitute.

Then my agent called. "Sorry to call you so early...[It's 10.30!!]... they want to know if you're happy to do the scene naked." "Come again?" "Well, no frontal nudity, obviously..." ("Obviously.") "...but would you be happy to be topless sitting on a chair?" "What does this have to do the script?" "I think they want some establishing shots..." "Fine. Tell them I'm happy to do the topless bit." "Oh good!" "And by the way, just so you know, I'm standing here with my plumber and I just finished telling him about playing opposite Jim Broadbent and he was thinking I was turning into a proper thesp when he heard me tell you that I was happy to do it topless..." (Unrestrained laughter at the other end of the phone.)

Alan looked a bit embarrassed after that, especially since he'd ask that I make sure to text him to let him know when Any Human Heart would be on so he and his wife could watch it... and now faces the prospect of watching one of his clients cavorting half naked on screen... even if it is in the name of art and with Jim Broadbent.

As I said. The word is out.

I have started a 3 day detox diet. I know she's meant to be plump but hey... the camera adds on at least 10 kg... I don't want her looking like a beached whale... topless on that chair!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Looking half-bad and loving it!

I had an appointment at Angels the Costumiers yesterday afternoon. With the wardrobe department from Any Human Heart: a lovely lady by the name Charlotte, her assistant Lucy and the young representative from Angels whose name I didn't catch because I was too busy starring at her beautiful pre-Raphaelite locks.

The appointment was not at the well known fancy dress store on Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End, but up in Hendon, at Angels main warehouse on a business estate. My bag was stuffed with lacy underwear as I'd been asked to bring some of my own lingerie.

I arrived a few minutes past my 3:30 appointment (courtesy of my "oh-my-God-where-am-I-and-where-on-earth-are-the-street-signs" moment and the minor panic when I couldn't locate the Oyster card reader*).

Oh my goodness. It was like stepping into Hogwarts. Row upon row of clothing and accessories all the way up to the roof. And that musty but delightful smell of stored fabrics and attics.

I was ushered into a smallish room with a large mirror with wings and Charlotte mercifully lowered the blinds over the two small windows. Then the fun began.

She had laid out mismatched bras and panties in an array of blacks, pink, fuschia and orange and I must have tried on 4 or 5 different sets.

Something wonderful happened. I'd already noticed how when I'm working on a character, I take on some of their characteristics. Severine is meant to a plumpish little woman and she obviously feels fine with the way she looks. Here I was, looking at myself in mismatching undergarments, wearing unflattering black hold-up stockings, and pink slippers with fluffy pink feathers on the toe, and I felt great!  (In spite of having just eaten a huge bowl of pasta for lunch... the appointment was last minute.) I even did some cute saucy poses for the reference shots. There was none of the usual picking myself apart and hating my reflection. It was a truly lovely moment of complete freedom from body obsession. (Maybe if I can replicate the experience for someone else, I can patent it as some form of therapy.)

When we were done, I headed back to the station. And the magic continued. On the train on the way home I struck up conversation with a nice lady who was heading off to Gatwick Airport to fly off to Melbourne to visit her brother and his young family (I helped her with her luggage), and a young calvary officer in traditional uniform who was heading to a dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor in the City.

I walked home from the station with a light step, in the warm early Spring afternoon, feeling at peace with the world and everything in it, and my bag still full of my lacy underthings.

I hope Severine, the little provincial prostitute, sticks around for a while. She's a great influence, and a wise woman. I'll try and take a leaf out of her book... maybe not her chosen profession but her love of life and sense of self-worth. Wisdom springs from the most unlikely places.

*Oyster Cards are a pay as you go system for the London underground and trains. You must swipe the card at the start and end of your journey, otherwise they charge you the maximum fee for the day.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I finally get to play French... but she's a prostitute.

And she's a plump one (it's in the script.)!

Never mind that. Bring on the pasta... I have just been cast by uber-casting director Nina Gold in Channel 4's four part adaptation of William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart.

More specifically, I have been cast as Severine, a "French plump provincial prostitute" to play opposite the brilliant Jim Broadbent.

I am very excited. (Yes. really.)

My agent called as Nina was concerned that I may have some issues with being half naked on camera. I've asked him to reassure her on that front. I'm sure I'll manage. (Some habits die hard.)

I haven't mentioned my rather avant garde new hair style to them but I'm sure hair and make-up will have some wigs or hair pieces at hand to make me look suitably naf.

Did I mention that I was rather excited?

Any Human heart will air in 2011 on Channel 4. Apparently it's been partly funded by the cancellation of Big Brother.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Pink Treasure

“Can you tell me which way is… Li-ver-pool Street?” She was a rather short and plump middle aged South American lady, with a warm smile. I was standing at the top of the escalators at Liverpool Street station on the Bishopsgate side. In my pink duffel coat, waiting for my friend Nigel.  I smiled back. "Liverpool Street is just around the corner here, to your right." She struggled to find the words for her next questions.
“Habla usted espanol?” I ventured.  “Que si. Si!”

Now that we’d established contact in her mother tongue I asked what specific place she was after. And that’s when I registered that things were not what they seemed. Her answer was rather evasive. “Here and there. Meeting people. Looking at things.” Right. Then she introduced me to the other 4 people she was with: another Columbian lady, a Japanese girl, a rather skinny Englishman and a quiet but large fellow who hung back a bit from the group. The Englishman took over. “My name is Jonathan and we are Christians,” he announced, “and our Church is just over there (St Mary’s on Lovatt Lane) and this is going to sound weird…” (No of course it isn't.) “…but we conduct what we call treasure hunts...” (Right.) “...we look for people who are treasures...” He gave me a rather significant look. “...and we have clues that guide us...”

I desperately looked around for Nigel to come to my rescue but I was early and I had at least another 10 minutes to wait. “and one of today’s clues…” he brought out his notebook with a flourish “…is a pink jacket!” He beamed at me and pointed at my duffel coat. “See. Pink!” Oh boy. “Well, maybe I’m not your treasure but a clue on your way to finding it…”. “Oh no, you’re definitely our treasure for today so we are going to pray for you.” That’s nice. I mean that. I have nothing against praying. I do a lot of meditation and prayer is a form of meditation and as far as I’m concerned it is all about trying to be at one with the Universe. Praying is good, whether you are Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist or any other religion. And if someone offers to pray for you, it would be churlish (oh look, I made a pun) to turn it down. “Thank you.” I said. But Jonathan wasn’t quite finished. "We’re going to pray for you right here right now. What would you like us to ask God for on your behalf?”

Other than wisdom I don’t believe you should ask God for anything. “Please ask him to give me the knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out.”

I don’t think Jonathan was quite expecting that and he looked rather taken aback, but pleased I think because he beamed at me some more. So they said a little prayer, standing around me. I have to admit a little sheepishly that I kept my eyes open and firmly set on my bag as it suddenly dawned on me that they could just be a rather innovative group of pick-pockets. I feel a bit bad that my Londoner’s survival instinct chose that very moment to kick in but it did. But they weren’t pick pockets, just people trying to connect with other human beings and spread a little happiness and spirituality.

At the end, the two Columbian women gave me a hug and told me that I was “bendiga” which means blessed “oy, manana, y siempre” (today, tomorrow, and for ever more). I thanked them and accepted the obligatory flyer “4 reasons to smile today” . “I have a card” announced Jonathan, as he pulled out some business cards from his pocket. "It has some additional information that is not on the flyer.” I don’t know whether it was the cold or my nerves but my Minor Tourettes Syndrome kicked in and I heard myself quip: “How modern, God has business cards! It’s only a matter of time before he’s on LinkedIn!” I didn’t mean anything nasty, it came out spontaneously. And to Jonathan’s credit, he took it in the right spirit and smiled benevolently.

I thanked them again and wished them a day full of happiness and gratitude. And then they were gone.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

I'm a Russian Working girl

Some of you may remember that I apperared in a Heinz ad last year. Well, brace yourselves because it's going to run again. For 3 months. And it's going to run in Russia as well.

In the meantime, remember the corporate job I auditioned for last week? Well I got it. Of course I got it. Will report on the shoot soon.