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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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Him & Her – Sarah Solemani on playing Becky

Where do we see Becky at the start of this series?

Becky has moved in with Steve and she takes a while to unpack her stuff, in true Becky style – she can't really be bothered to do anything – so most of the series has her stuff in boxes everywhere. That changes the dynamic of the relationship – for the first time they really are in each other's space, there's nowhere else to go and it's taken their relationship up a notch in terms of the intensity. To compound that, Steve's ex-girlfriend, Julie Taylor – who's just come back from University in Bolton, appears and she doesn't go away. She really throws a spanner in the works in terms of how Becky and Steve relate to each other, and how they both have to negotiate around her.

Do we only see Becky and Steve in the flat again?

It's the same flat that we don't leave, but the space around it shifts. There's one episode called The Fight where a fight happens outside and people are smashing windows and throwing things in, so even though we don't leave, a lot of action happens around the set.

What twists and turns are in store?

Well, all the characters that everyone know and love return – Dan from upstairs is always a favourite, he has some fantastic storylines this series. Kerry playing Laura, Becky's sister has a massive reveal at the end of series, and there is a hilarious turn from Ricky who plays Paul. In episode one he comes up with a big surprise announcement for Steve, much to everyone's horror and disgust. Series two has definitely turned up a gear in terms of drama and tension!

You are in every scene, every day, for the whole filming period. How did you find that?

It's a very intense process and I think people think that because we're in the flat, we're just lying about farting and eating cheese – we're not – it's actually the opposite, it's a really technical show to film. Any actor will tell you that when you have to eat in scenes either you don't eat anything or you just put a bit in your mouth at the end of a line so you know your continuity. In Him & Her it's so realistic and in such short time, Stefan actually writes the way of eating so you can't fake it, so you have to be really on the ball with your continuity and you have to be really on the ball with performance and making sure nothing's too overt, nothing's knowingly funny.

How much preparation is done between you and Russell?

Me and Russell are very, very close. I mean it's gone beyond being close. We have that kind of familiarity that you only really get as a family member. I mean he'll tell me if I've got bits in my teeth, if my breath stinks... I'll tell him to stop being a fool and tell him off… but for us it's very much a question of being taken and lead by Stefan, Richard and Kenton. It's very important that Becky and Steve aren't exclusive in their intimacy, we want to bring that intimacy out so people can feel like they're part of that relationship. It's actually a very delicate balance to get, so it takes a lot of negotiation, so it is a real labour of love.

And do you have any really memorable moments from filming Him & Her?

There are so many memorable moments! We had a Rottweiler on set, a really old woman on set… each episode is so rich and so interesting, but I think the funny memorable thing that sticks out for me is that I remember talking to Russell about how we were going to do a scene, and Rich, the director, came along and Russell says "Shall I touch her tits in this scene?" and Richard sort of looked me up and down a bit and kind of shrugged his shoulders and said to Russell "Hmmm, if you want," and walked off. I was like "Ok".

But then I realised – hang on a minute! In any other show if there's any sort of tactile, or touching, you ask the actress "Is it ok?" and someone comes up and says "Do you need a robe?". But we've got to the point where I hadn't even realised it myself until this point. We ended up laughing about it – and that's not to make out I'm a sort of molested, passive actress, but that that is the level of intimacy that we all have.

Finally, do you think Becky and Sarah's lives ever cross over?

I'm not so dissimilar from Becky. There's something strangely aspirational about not being bothered about stuff, but being in love and being really truthful to whom you love, and just living each day as it comes. There's something really amazing about that. And I definitely have an inner-slob, if I'm tired I can definitely leave washing and leave tidying and leave general standards of hygiene. And funnily because we're filming so intensely I don't really get a chance to do my laundry, or wash up, or cook or anything like that, so my existence is quite Becky-like, in terms of I'll just run out of bed, put a tracksuit on, go to work, get into bed and then stay in bed. Before then coming out and going home again. So the show does make me quite Becky-like I guess!

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