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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Accused – Jodie Whittaker plays Emma Croft

Jodie Whittaker as Emma Croft

Jodie Whittaker plays the successful professional Emma Croft, who has everything going for her until she takes Liam Black's (Andy Serkis) cab to the airport.

Emma exchanges pleasantries to the pass time but Liam is smitten by her and connives to keep in touch. Before long, he's dangerously obsessed with her and weaves his way into every aspect of her life – it seems he'll stop at nothing to have her to himself.

In common with her latest character, Jodie enjoys a busy and successful career. In person, the 28-year-old actress exudes an infectious joie de vivre and sharp intelligence – it's no wonder her star has continued to rise on both television and film since graduating from the Guildhall School of Music just five years ago.

Her breakthrough film Venus, in which she starred alongside veterans Peter O'Toole and Leslie Phillips, earned her much critical acclaim and regular work in the prestigious British independent film sector.

She has recently featured in Nick Moran's The Kid and will soon be seen in Joe Cornish's directorial debut, Attack The Block, leading the cast with Nick Frost.

She will also feature in the highly anticipated One Day, by Lone Sherfig, starring with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess as well as playing the lead in Harmony, by Dana Lustig, with Dougray Scott and Emilia Fox.

On BBC television, her versatility has regularly been demonstrated in programmes such as Abi Morgan's Eighties dark comedy Royal Wedding, as well as the acclaimed adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles.

Last Christmas, she shone as the repressed young woman Peggy Bell in the award-winning Cranford, alongside a host of British greats led by Dame Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton. For ITV, she starred as Louise in Wired and has completed filming on the forthcoming five-part drama The Oaks, in which she'll star with Alex Kingston.

So, what brings her to Jimmy McGovern's and Danny Brocklehurst's dark tale of crime and punishment?

"Anything that Jimmy McGovern has had a hand in is a huge draw – he's always generated exciting projects and everyone knows it'll be a great, believable British drama," enthuses Jodie.

She continues to praise the writing, saying all of the characters penned by Jimmy and Danny are so well developed – all have an important impetus in the story, which makes it a real ensemble piece.

"We shot the film in just over two and half weeks and everyone bonded like a family – we were all committed to telling this incredible story that's got true heart. I still can't believe how quickly the time flew, I'll always remember it – it was a really special time for me.

"Working with a hugely talented actor such as Andy was incredible. He's a lovely man and a pleasure to be around. Many of our scenes in the cab were static, with Liam driving and Emma in the back seat, which does make performing quite challenging.

"What happens is the focus goes to their eyes. They're communicating through eye contact via his rear view mirror. It separates them from each other as well as the world passing by outside.

"Their relationship changes significantly when she actually sits next to him in the front seat and is won over by his account of life."

At pains not to give away key elements of this story of deceit and betrayal, Jodie explains more about Emma, stressing that she's not a stereotypical career woman whose only focus is work at the cost of her private life. Nor is she someone who has had serial bad luck in matters of the heart.

"Emma's a warm-hearted young woman who has enjoyed happy relationships, never having been short of boyfriends. The only apparent downside of her love affair with Neil (Tom Ellis) is his lack of full commitment – it's a terrible shock to her when she finds out exactly why he won't move in with her and that's what makes her even more vulnerable and easy prey for Liam.

"I think she is horrendously unlucky in meeting Liam. That's when bad things really start to happen. She is like any of us when we're feeling upset and fragile, we let our guard down and open ourselves up when we'd normally be more cautious.

"Liam has his chance to invade her life and he takes it with both hands. The consequences are disastrous for everyone around him.

"What's really upsetting in Emma's case is that her trust is destroyed – possibly for ever."

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