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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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The Field Of Blood – interview with Jayd Johnson

Jayd Johnson

Tell us about your character?

I play Paddy Meehan and she's a young newspaper 'copyboy – as they called them in the Eighties – in the Daily News office. All she wants more than anything is to be a journalist; She wants to make a difference, to show the real side of things. She knows what she wants, she's very independent, and she won't take rubbish from anyone.

What interested you in The Field Of Blood?

I was actually studying at drama school in New York when I first heard about it. When I talked to my teachers they didn't want me to take any time away from my studies. I knew I couldn't do it so I asked the casting director not to put me up for it and not to send me anything about it.

But there was something nagging away inside me. I kept thinking: 'I could be doing that now'. Luckily they came back and said they really wanted to see me. I think that was a bit of a sign, this part just wouldn't leave me alone. I found out later that the director, David Kane, had said they should send me the script because he knew once I had read it I would want to audition. He was right. Paddy is a great character and the way she is written is so unusual.

The story takes place before you were born. What sort of research did you do?

I didn't know anything about the Eighties as I was born in the Nineties so I Googled a lot about that period. My dad also told me loads of stories about the Eighties, how the cars were so different, about going to work – everything just sounded weird.

Music is a big thing for me to get into a character. I did a lot of music research to see what bands Paddy might be into and made a play list. I also researched the styles of that era and made a folder full of pictures. When I went to work I would have my script, the folder and the iPod with all different bands. I am now a fan of Eighties bands and love Depeche Mode, The Clash and The Cure.

What was it like on the Daily News set?

The newsroom scenes were exciting and the set was so authentic that the minute I walked in I felt transported back in time. They took care of every detail right down to the smallest thing – Andy Harris the production designer did the most amazing job. It felt like you were in a totally different time.

What was it like to work with such an impressive cast?

I'm such a young actress and still learning and developing my craft but this was such a great opportunity to learn from really well-established actors like Peter Capaldi and David Morrissey. I was constantly in awe working with Peter, every take he did was amazing. He is such a generous actor. I learned so much about how detailed an actor he can be.

David Morrissey plays my boss and he was so much fun to work with. It's really cool to watch more experienced actors and see how they take on a role. Ford Kiernan is an amazing person, such a nice guy, and he was definitely the funniest one to work with. He taught me so much – he gave hints and tips and lots of good advice about the industry. It was nice to know you were being looked after by these older actors.

I found it really interesting watching them all on set, they really inhabit the space. David Morrissey commanded his office. When you walked in you knew it was his from the way he would sit at his desk. He had all his props in the exact places where he wanted them. That's the kind of detailed actor I want to be.

There are two sides to Paddy's character. Her work and home life are very different, how much of a challenge was that?

I felt I was playing two different characters. You see Paddy at the office standing up for herself and really putting herself out there in this man's world. Then you see her go home and she turns into, not a shy person, but a very reserved girl who knows her place and tries not to overstep the mark especially with her mum, who is a devout Catholic. She's trying to be sort of domesticated with her fiancé, but realises she doesn't fit in. Paddy doesn't lose faith in her family, but she realises this life is not for her.

What was it like coming back to work in Glasgow?

I had been away for a year in New York and coming back actually made me love Glasgow so much more. It's such a great city but the way we shot it made Glasgow so cinematically beautiful. It just looks amazing. It was also great to come back and be around all my family and friends.

What do you want audiences to take from The Field Of Blood?

I want them to really try and get into the mind set of Paddy and be with her as she goes through this huge journey. I would like them to see her point of view and by the end I hope they really want Paddy to do well. She deserves success, especially after everything she goes through.

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