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Diehard EastEnders fans were delighted to hear the news that Charlie Brooks will be returning to Albert Square, to reprise her role as Frank Butcher’s scheming daughter Janine.
But before she waltzes back into Walford, Charlie, 40, can be seen on our screens this week in Channel 5’s tense new thriller, Lie With Me. Playing the role of Anna, a wife trying to repair her marriage following her husband’s affair, she moves
the family from London to her hubby’s hometown, Melbourne.
But will suspicion push Anna to take shocking and drastic action? We caught up with Charlie to hear more about the new drama, and how she got to live out her Kylie Minogue fantasy while filming it…
How would you describeLie With Me?
It’s a sexy thriller and a story of betrayal, with lots of twists and turns that happen between the main protagonists. If you want to get lost in the beauty of Australia and the toxicity of this marriage, and be taken on a bit of a ride, then this is the show for you.
What’s Anna like?
She was definitely a strong businesswoman once upon a time, but it’s safe to say that she’s lost herself a little bit within her marriage. She has compromised who she is for her family and that comes with quite big consequences. She has also experienced heavy gaslighting within the marriage, but she’s a survivor. I thought Lie With Me sounded really exciting. It’s always interesting to play a woman on the edge and we were shooting in Australia, so the job was a no-brainer for me!
What kind of research did you do for the role?
Anna’s an outsider in so many ways and I spoke to a friend of mine who emigrated to Australia about the real loneliness and isolation you can feel, even though you’re surrounded by people. I also spoke to friends who’ve experienced gaslighting in their relationships and were made to feel like they’re going mad at some point.
Have you ever experienced that yourself?
I have to say I’ve been fortunate in my own relationships and I’ve been really blessed with good people in my life, but I understand how people can get trapped in those very toxic relationships. It happens far too often. Anna ends up questioning her ability to be a good parent and her decisions, which is dangerous territory. Ultimately, it’s the love for her children and the threat that they could be taken away that drives her to desperation.
How much of yourself did you bring to this character?
As a woman of 40 with my own daughter and my own challenges, I always take from my own experiences in life, and the insecurities that you might feel as a woman. It’s always interesting to tap into those things and how they manifest in a character, and Anna definitely has a lot of uncertainty. A lot of any character comes from what you have within you, but I say that lightly because I’ve played some out there characters and killers, and that’s not from me!
This is your first TV role in a while. How did it feel to get back on set?
It was scary. I did feel nervous and insecure, but I had the best time and it was a fantastic experience. When I came out of EastEnders eight years ago, I made a conscious decision to do a lot of theatre. I didn’t go to drama school, so with theatre I felt like I was learning on the job and telling some really important stories. Plus, it terrified me and I have a habit of doing things that scare me. I did then get to the point where I was hoping more TV work would come along, so it was perfect timing with Lie With Me.
Do you seek out roles that are very different from playing Janine inEastEnders?
I did make lots of different character choices when I left the show, for sure. It’s hard to break away because people want to see you as Janine – they love to hate her. But in Lie With Me, Anna is a much more vulnerable woman. She doesn’t wear as much of a mask.
You’re working to help young actors get a break too, with a platform called iampro. Can you tell us more about it?
Because I never went to drama school I’ve always carried around quite a lot of insecurity and felt like I didn’t know enough to be taken seriously as an actress. But, actually, that’s not true and it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve really come to terms with that. With iampro, I’m trying to create a platform that is affordable and accessible, with high-end training that can represent everybody. I feel super passionate about it because I’ve been so lucky with my own parents supporting me and being able to pursue my own dreams, but some people don’t have anyone in their life that can help to support them.
Was it exciting filming in Oz?
Yes! I went to Melbourne for the weekend many years ago and I absolutely loved it, so it was such a fantastic thing for me to work there and cement that love affair. I can’t wait to go back. The locations we used for Lie With Me were unbelievable, the brunches were to die for and the coffee was amazing. On my days off I went on an earring-making course, and I got to go on the Neighbours set as well because the studio was down the road. That’s the main reason I did the job, just so I could pretend I was Charlene back in 1987!
Lie With Me starts on Monday 12 July at 9pm on Channel 5
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