A change of face – Glass speaks to British actor Jodie Comer about her new series Thirteen

KNOWN for her role as Chloe in the Emmy-nominated series My Mad Fat Diary (Channel 4) as well as appearing in  BBC1’s Doctor Foster, the 22-year-old actor Jodie Comer now takes on a new challenge with BBC’s five-part series Thirteen. Written by Marnie Dickens, Thirteen features Liverpool-born Jodie as Ivy Moxham, a women who escapes after 13 years of captivity.

 Jodie Comer. Photography by Justin van Vliet  Jodie Comer. Photograph: Justin van Vliet

What brought you into acting? What were the most significant moments in your career?
Acting started out as a hobby. I attended a local weekend dance/drama school and i just throughly enjoyed it. When I was 14 my drama teacher sent me for a BBC4 radio play that happened to be holding auditions in The Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. It was my first professional audition and I got the role.

While working on that radio play one of the cast suggested I get an agent and some professional pictures taken, that was when the ball started rolling. Working on My Mad Fat Diary was a big moment for me, I made friends for life and I started to get recognition for my work. I would say that Thirteen is my biggest achievement so far.

 Jodie Comer. Photography by Justin van Vliet  Jodie Comer. Photograph: Justin van Vliet

Thirteen is a big change from your most recent roles, how did you find the switch?
Amazing. Thirteen came along at the most perfect time. I was really hungry for a challenge and I definitely got that with Thirteen! As an actor I think it’s important to be pushed to new limits. I also feel you need to take on those roles where the prospect of actually doing them scares you.

Thirteen was a blessing. It took all of my energy and concentration to play Ivy, there was never time for slacking as she is such a complex person. Most filming days were full of emotional scenes and that means you have to dig deep, I learnt a lot about myself.

 Jodie Comer. Photograph: Justin van Vliet
 Jodie Comer. Photograph: Justin van Vliet
What elements of the role in Thirteen did you struggle the most with?
I’m a very emotional person, and it was learning to control that emotion. Things that Ivy had experienced I would naturally find upsetting and I would channel that in scenes, which wasn’t always right. Vanessa Caswilll the director of block one was amazing with helping me with this, she explained that Ivy had probably become numb to many things due to what she had experienced in captivity.

Ivy would never have felt like she was the victim, she had become accustomed to behaviour we could never imagine. The hard thing was still feeling that emotion but not always letting it show to the other characters in the scene.

 Jodie Comer. Photography by Justin van Vliet Jodie Comer. Photograph: Justin van Vliet

What is the next role you’d love to see yourself in?
I would really love to do a period drama, perhaps something that is based on true events. That is something I’ve never explored before and I would be keen to throw myself into some research. I’d also love to work in film and theatre too. Anything that takes me to a different place from where I’ve been before!

What other careers could you see yourself in if not acting?
I honestly have no idea, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and I don’t want to! I’d love to be in a rock band though. The next Ian Brown or Liam Gallagher, now that would be great.

What does the future hold for you the coming year?
Hopefully lots of exciting new projects. I start filming in March for a new series which I’m really looking forward to (but can’t say what it is yet). There is also a second series of Doctor Foster in the pipeline, which is exciting.

by Justin van Vliet

All photographs: Justin van Vliet

Jodie Comer is on twitter

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