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THE BIG INTERVIEW: FTN interviews actress Jan Anderson

July 27th, 2013 by Big Phil Comments

Welsh beauty Jan Anderson rose to fame playing wild child Jodie in BBC’s Tiger Bay. Many leading roles followed for this talented and popular actress including sexy nurse Chloe in Britain’s number one hospital drama BBC’s Casualty, ITV’s London’s Burning, ITV’s The Bill, BBC’s Doctors, HBO’s hit comedy show Curb Your Enthusiasm and more. Now Jan is back starring alongside David Schaal (The Inbetweeners) and fellow Welsh actor Cerith Flinn (Strike Back) in the new British comedy flick The Fitzroy.

The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative post-apocalyptic 1950’s. The world is covered in a poisons gas and the last place for a traditional seaside holiday is The Fitzroy hotel an abandoned submarine just of the coast of England. The film centers on Bernard Cerith Flinn, the hotel’s bellboy, cook, maintenance man and general dogsbody as he faces a constant battle to keep the decaying hotel airtight and afloat. But when he falls in love with a murderous guest Jan Anderson, a retired femme fatale singer who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. As Bernard struggles to hide her murders from the other guests and suspicious authorities, his world literally begins to sink around him.

Jan Anderson has a wealth of credits to her name. As well as a nurse Chloe Hill in Casualty, she played Richard Lewis new girlfriend Stella in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Marie in Torchwood, nurse Amanda in Prison Break, sexy holiday rep Kimberely Jones in Is Harry on the Boat?, cheating wife Fran Morris in Doctors and TV presenter Sandie Booth in The Bill. This beautiful actress has also graced our big screens in many productions, including playing Karen Benson the cult film Human Traffic alongside Shaun Parkes, stunning teacher Mrs Macintrye in Detention alongside Josh Hutcherson and more.

This exciting film is set in the UK, with a UK/US cinema release set for late 2013. The Fitzroy is currently being filmed in Kent, is produces by Dresden Pictures and directed by the very talented Andrew Harmer

FTN: How did you get into acting?

JA: I started acting as a child in Wales; every night after school I would go to acting classes and from a very young age I knew it was what I loved. It consumed my whole childhood, the theatre was such a happy and inspiring place for me.

FTN: Where did the passion for acting come from?

JA: My Drama teacher Roger Burnell in school was a huge inspiration for me as a child; he nurtured and protected me and saw that acting was the ONLY thing I wanted to do, so he inspired and fueled my passion from a very young age. But I think I was just born an emotional and dramatic person to be honest! I truly believe with or without training you are either born an actor or not.

FTN: You toured at the age of 15 with the Welsh National Opera in a production of Carmen. What was that experience like for you at such a young age? Did it fire your passion for the stage?

JA: The Welsh National Opera production of Carmen was my First big theatre gig. At age 14 or 15 I left school and toured with them, it was one of the happiest times of my life! I had been on stage since the age of seven, but this was on a grand scale and I felt on top of the world. It definitely set even bigger fireworks off in me that performing was going to be my lifelong path.

FTN: Of course, you’ve done many musicals. Which stands as your personal favourite?

JA: Musicals I did really when I was a child, my favorite being when I played Annie in the production of Annie in the Porthcawl Pavillion. We used my real dog at the time to play Sandy, which was amazing. But one night instead of him coming to me when I called him, he walked to the middle of the stage and did a poop then walked off!! I also LOVE West Side story, such a passionate story!

FTN:  What was your first breakthrough role?

JA: My breakthrough role would have to be when I performed in Tiger Bay when I was 19. It was a series set in Cardiff on Primetime BBC, I played a wild child, Jodie Monks who was quite a handful (much like most roles I play!). After Tiger Bay I got Casualty so it definitely opened doors for me, and I LOVED working in Wales.

FTN:  What do you look for in a role before accepting it?

JA: I always tend to get the manipulative bad girl roles, so I look for vulnerability in them that makes them way more complex as you have to look to the route of WHY a girl turns bad. I also like to play slightly off the rail, deranged women so I guess I definitely don’t look to play the sweet English-rose types. Feisty, sassy strong women are so much more my cup of tea.

FTN: You’ve successfully balanced a career on both sides of the Atlantic. How does the industry compare for you in America compared to a British production?

JA: LA is a machine. There are so many more people at it, in fact EVERYONE you meet, is in the industry. But the pay off in USA is so much bigger if you do hit something big. They have way bigger budgets and there are a lot more productions. Britain is a much sweeter place to work though, as there aren’t so many big egos and people are way more real and down to earth; you get treated like a human not just a number, like you do in LA.

FTN: How did you land the role of Stella in Curb Your Enthusiasm? Did it open doors for you there?

JA: I auditioned through my LA agent and the second audition was alongside Larry David (Seinfeld creator), so it was nerve wracking! Also as it’s all improvised with no script, I had to be on my toes, luckily I’d had my espresso shots that day! It did open up a few doors for me; I booked a comedy film called Detention with comedian Dane Cook (Sony Pictures) after that. Curb is one of the most popular comedies in the states, so it was amazing how many people saw it!

Britain is a much sweeter place to work though, as there aren’t so many big egos and people are way more real and down to earth; you get treated like a human not just a number, like you do in LA.

FTN: You were Chloe in Casualty where your character became an escort/stripper to earn extra money. Did you have any say on the direction the storyline took?

JA: Chloe didn’t strip or escort but she did entertain men with her company for her bad boy boyfriends business, so I guess it was kind of escorting. No I didn’t have any input in the storyline that was the writer’s job, but I did ask to be written out when I left the show, so they wrote a leaving story line for me that was pretty juicy!

FTN: The storyline was massive and affected people, helping to highlight the plight of underpaid nurses. Was that a surprise to you?

JA: I think Nurses are totally underpaid and it doesn’t surprise me at all that the story resonated with them, they are tired enough as it is without them having to take on board an extra job on the side to pay their bills!

FTN: Do you find you sometimes bring those grittier roles home or can you switch off once filming is completed?

JA: It always takes me weeks to let certain characters out of my system. Even years later, I still remember the exact dialogue that a character spoke and feel so sad letting them go! Probably the hardest one to let go was Chloe from Casualty as I played her for six years and loved her and the production so much! But yes, if I’ve been shooting scenes where I am highly emotional I need a bottle of red wine to calm me down when I get home!

FTN: You had a role in the Torchwood episode Reset. Is sci-fi something you like?

JA: I love all genres; variety is the spice of life!!! Sci-fi is great fun and you never know what to expect until you see it on screen, it’s amazing what they do with special effects and Torchwood is a brilliant show, I was ecstatic to be a part of it!

FTN: Tell us about The Fitzroy? What is your character like?

JA: My character Miss Sonya Beatrice is a girl’s dream role! She is Manipulative and seductive and a drama queen… and a Murderer! She is a retired Cabaret singer who will do anything to get what she wants. She earns her stay at the Fitzroy hotel by seducing the owner (played by the wonderful David Schaal, Jay’s dad in The inbetweeners). She is a dangerous woman who is a true Femme Fatale, her body and charms are her weapons and her crocodile tears disarm anyone that stands in her way.

‘The Fitzroy’ is a post apocalyptic 1950s Black comedy set on a submarine, the world has been covered in poisonous gas and the Fitzroy hotel is one of the last holiday resorts on earth. The film is centered around a bellboy who tries to keep the hotel ticking over, when all hell breaks loose as Sonya sends him on a killing spree with her and things start to spiral out of control.

Torchwood is a brilliant show, I was ecstatic to be a part of it!

FTN: It seems to blend a healthy dose of sci-fi, thriller, murder mystery and human drama. Is this what attracted you to the script?

JA: That is exactly what attracted me to the script; it is so unique and combines so many styles of film-making! Also the writing is so clever and hilarious. All the characters are so well fleshed out and the world‘The Fitzroy is set in is kooky, surreal and odd, which totally appeals to me! The Director and production company are young and forward thinking and fabulous! I have total faith in their vision and passion for this unique project, and I am so happy to be part of the wonderful world they have created.

FTN: Well, we’re certainly looking forward to it Jan and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

JA: Thank you guys, it was a pleasure.

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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!