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24 September 2014
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To The Ends Of The Earth
Joanna Page plays Marion Chumley

William Golding's 'To The Ends Of The Earth'


Joanna Page plays Marion Chumley


It was real-life drama on the high seas for Joanna Page when she had a close encounter with a shark while on location filming in South Africa.


"I was on a whale-watching trip with some of the cast and crew. We had to wade through the water to get to the boat and we were heading out to sea when, suddenly, there was a massive bang," she explains.


"They pulled the engine out of the water and there were bits of shark flesh everywhere. We had no idea that a shark had been circling us and it had got caught up in the engine. All I could think was, 'I've just been in the water up to my thighs!' It was very scary."


Fortunately, Joanna, 27, came away from the incident unscathed, and continued filming her role as Marion Chumley in To The Ends of the Earth.


The pretty Welsh actress had a great time filming in South Africa, the only downside being that she desperately missed her husband, actor James Thornton, whom she married in December 2003.


"I was out there filming for three weeks and it was the longest we've been apart. Every night we were on the phone for hours. Half of my mobile phone bill has already come in and I don't want to get the next half. Honestly, my fee on the production will probably not cover the phone bill!" she laughs.


The couple both starred in BBC ONE's production of David Copperfield four years ago, but as they didn't have any scenes together they hadn't actually met. It wasn't until they saw each other on screen in the drama that the attraction developed.


"I was watching David Copperfield at home when I saw James playing Ham Peggotty. I said to my mother, 'Oh my God! I want that man to be the father of my children!' I thought he was absolutely lovely."


Little did Joanna know, but she had also caught James' eye. The pair didn't actually meet until three years later when a friend of Joanna's was in a play at the National Theatre with James.


"My friend asked me to come and see the play because there was an actor in it who said he was in love with me. When I got there, I realised that the actor was James, the guy I'd fancied for the past three years!" explains the bubbly actress.


"We met in the bar afterwards and just hit it off. All that time we'd liked each other and had never met but from that evening on, that was it. After a week, we knew we wanted to be together and he moved in straight away."


Joanna's real-life love story is reflected in To The Ends of the Earth, when Edmund Talbot falls madly in love at first sight when he meets the demure Marion, an orphan who is the ward of Lord and Lady Somerset (Charles Dance and Cheryl Campbell).


But, unlike Joanna, Marion had to behave within the social constraints of the time.


"Marion does nearly get swept off her feet by how much Edmund falls for her, but she contains herself," explains Joanna.


"She is a very innocent young woman, but also feisty and strong, and she tells Edmund that he can't behave the way he does and he needs to pull himself together."


Joanna is no stranger to period drama and she loves dressing up in the costumes. Wearing a heavy period costume in the South African heat might be some people's idea of torture, but Joanna found it helped her get into the role: "I love wearing corsets because they make me feel so feminine and sexy.


"In a corset you really feel that you don't have to do too much acting - once you've put the costume on, that's it really. The only downside is that you can't eat as much when you're wearing one," she says, "And if you want to go to the loo it's a bit awkward with so many petticoats and having to use those awful portaloos."


Rising star Joanna was born in Swansea and has worked ever since leaving RADA in 1998. Despite being a newcomer, she's already starred with Johnny Depp in the film From Hell and she was in the hit film, Love Actually, playing a porn star stand-in alongside Martin Freeman.


"Thank God we weren't completely naked!" giggles Joanna as she recalls filming the sex scenes with Martin. "I had to have so many bits of double sided sticky tape everywhere and thongs with the sides cut out so you look naked.


"Luckily Martin was in the same position as me so it was okay! I had so much tape on so everything was covered up but at the end of the day you have to peel it all off. I've never tried waxing but I can imagine that it is the same pain!"


Last year, Joanna also co-starred in the ITV dramas Mine All Mine, with Gryff Rhys Jones, written by Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies; and Making Waves with ex-EastEnder Alex Fearns (Trevor).


Incredibly, the latter production was pulled from the schedules after only three episodes and, although Joanna was disappointed, she admits her family were more upset about it.


Joanna's next role is in the British film No Snow, which she is currently filming in Luxembourg. When she isn't working, Joanna is a self-confessed shopaholic.


"I've recently discovered internet shopping which is great as you don't even have to leave the house!" she says.


One of her more unusual purchases was on eBay for a pub sign called 'The Jack Russell' in honour of the other love of her life - her Jack Russell dog, Daisy.


"Oh my God, she is so pampered and is carried around everywhere. I was laughing with my mum the other day about the time I saw James on the television and said I wanted him to be the father of my children. It's the children I don't want yet, as they would ruin my career!" she jokes.


"Anyway, having Daisy is just like having a child, she is my baby for the moment."



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