Tag Archives: Angela Griffin

Learning Lines

British star Angela Griffin tells DQ about her role in Netflix mystery thriller White Lines, in which a woman seeks the truth about her brother’s death in Ibiza 20 years ago, written by La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) creator Álex Pina.

Despite TV production having been largely shut down in the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic, actor Angela Griffin has had a lot of work to do in recent weeks and months.

As well as starring in one episode of ITV’s Isolation Stories, which told four short stories about people isolated at home during the health crisis, Griffin is also part of the cast of Dun Breedin’, a YouTube comedy-drama created by fellow actor Julie Graham (Benidorm, Penance) that introduces a group of female friends at various stages of the menopause.

Unlike Isolation Stories, Dun Breedin’ isn’t set during the lockdown, but both series were filmed remotely over the last few weeks, with actors and their family members tasked with filming individual scenes at home.

Both series stand in stark contrast to former Coronation Street star Griffin’s latest project, which pairs an intriguing murder mystery with Ibiza’s all-night parties and idyllic backdrops. The Spanish island is the setting for Netflix series White Lines, which will be released tomorrow and comes from showrunner Álex Pina, the writer behind hit Spanish drama La Casa de Papel (Money Heist).

When the body of a legendary Manchester DJ is discovered 20 years after his mysterious disappearance from Ibiza, his sister returns to the beautiful island to find out what happened. Her investigation leads her through a thrilling world of dance clubs, lies and cover-ups, forcing her to confront the darker sides of her own character in a place where people live life on the edge.

Angela Griffin as Anna in White Lines, Netflix’s new Ibiza-set drama

Produced by Left Bank Pictures (The Crown) and Pina’s Vancouver Media, it stars an eclectic cast of UK and Spanish talent, in a series that bounces between the English and Spanish languages.

Laura Haddock plays Zoe, who is looking for answers about the death if her brother Axel (Tom Rhys Harries). Also starring are Daniel Mays, Laurence Fox and Angela Griffin as Marcus, David and Anna respectively, Axel’s friends who stayed in Ibiza and now face uncomfortable questions from Zoe. Meanwhile, Marta Milans, Juan Diego Botto, Nuno Lopes, Pedro Casablanc and Belén López play members of the powerful Calafat family, who run many of Ibiza’s clubs, benefit from its illegal drug trade and own the land where Axel’s body was discovered.

As Anna, Griffin portrays one of the original foursome who went from Manchester to Ibiza in 1996. Anna also became romantically involved with Marcus, with the pair eventually marrying. “The friendship of the four was incredibly close,” Griffin tells DQ. “They were 20-year-olds who believed they could do anything, be anyone, go anywhere – and they did. Arriving in Ibiza in 1996, they completely and utterly rinsed it for everything they could, and Marcus and Anna stayed together, got married and had children.”

Twenty years later, as Zoe lands in Ibiza, the three remaining friends are all grown up but their lives have gone in different directions. David is now a spiritual leader, while Anna and Marcus have split up.

“Anna grew up and became a bit more sophisticated and refined. She’s got a business brain; she wanted more,” Griffin explains. “Marcus is still exactly the same person who walked onto the island in 1996. He’s still wearing the same kind of clothes, DJing at the same clubs, taking the same drugs and dealing the same drugs, and she grew out of him, so they divorced. But they’ve still got the children.

The series follows Laura Haddock’s Zoe as she investigates her brother’s death

“Anna is a strange creature. On the outside, you would look at her and think, ‘She’s so lovely, warm and nice and seems to want to facilitate everything. She’s really helpful.’ But she doesn’t live with her children, they live with Marcus.

“She’s unapologetic about that. She’s not a mother who misses them all the time. She runs sex clubs; she runs very expensive, high-class sex parties. She’s a purveyor of pleasure and she absolutely loves it. She loves the fact everyone adores her. She wants everyone to adore her, including Marcus. Even though they’ve split up, she still keeps him on the end of a piece of string.

“So there’s an edge to Anna that you cannot quite put your finger on. That’s the same for a lot of characters Álex Pina creates. They’re always layered; there’s always something going on underneath. As you go from episodes one to 10, the characters all get stripped back and you find out who they really are and what they really want.”

While the first three episodes of the series lay the foundations of the central mystery, with flashbacks recounting some of Axel and the young friends’ early exploits, it’s clear that many of the characters are keeping secrets about what happened to him all those years ago. As revelations come to the surface, White Lines promises to be a rollercoaster ride typical of Pina, who continues to grip viewers into the fourth season of Money Heist.

“The Spanish way of writing, like La Casa, there’s a lot more passion there,” Griffin says of Pina’s scripts. “I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, but the emotion is absolutely out there. I do feel with British writing it’s sometimes more reserved. With this, it’s there. It moves along, it’s so pacy. There are so many shocking moments, so many funny moments and moving moments. It was a real pleasure to work on. I do think Álex is a genius character creator – he manages to work through character but have incredible plots too. He’s very clever.”

Alongside the British actors are Spanish stars including Nuno Lopez and Marta Milans

Filming took place last summer in Ibiza, fellow Balearic island Majorca, and Madrid and Almería in mainland Spain. Griffin didn’t get to visit the real Ibiza, with the majority of her scenes shot in Madrid and Majorca.

“We shot a lot of the interiors in Madrid. Because Majorca and Ibiza are very busy, in July and August we moved to Madrid, as everyone there moves out because it’s so hot. All the locals take that time off. It was very interesting shooting in 40-degree heat,” says the actor, whose other credits include Canadian detective drama The Detail.

The international nature of the story and its cast means White Lines is likely to resonate with Netflix’s global audience, while Griffin describes the series as a multigenerational story that will appeal to viewers young and old.

“There are a lot of young characters and it’s very much about a debauched lifestyle. That’s always a hit on Netflix,” she says. “It skews quite young, so it appeals to them. But 1996 in Manchester, I was there. I did it, and I’m watching those [flashback] scenes with nostalgia. They’ve very cleverly appealed to a really wide age range with the fact we have got people from absolutely everywhere. We’ve got Spanish movie stars. So you’re appealing to a massive audience there.

“But it’s not as manipulative as that. Álex wrote a story he believed in and it happens to appeal to everyone. I don’t think you can plan that sometimes. Money Heist was made for Spanish TV and it’s just taken the world by storm. You just don’t know what’s going to hit.”

Thoughts of a potential second season are on hold while most countries around the world continue to pause filming until the pandemic subsides. But Griffin says Pina already has ideas of where the show could go.

“As long as the viewers enjoy it and demand it, hopefully when the world does whatever it’s doing, we’ll come out the other end and we’ll be in Madrid and Majorca shooting season two,” she adds.

“You can expect the unexpected from Álex Pina. He is the king of plots and the king of stories. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry and it will never be what you think it’s going to be. You will cry at things that should be funny and you will laugh at things that should be upsetting. He turns everything on its head and every character on their head.”

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All in The Detail

Angela Griffin and Shenae Grimes-Beech team up to star in Canadian detective drama The Detail. They tell DQ about playing cops and the chance to join a female-led production.

The Detail could not be more timely. As the fallout from Hollywood’s sexual harassment scandal continues, alongside the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns and the row over gender pay inequality, this Canadian crime series stands apart as a female-led production.

Starring Angela Griffin, Shenae Grimes-Beech and Wendy Crewson, the story details the messy realities of cop life – both on and off the job – for detectives who work tirelessly to solve cases while navigating the complicated demands of their personal lives.

Behind the camera, female writers, directors, producers and consultants drive the series, which is described as depicting topical stories through a distinctly and unapologetically female lens. Key personnel include executive producer and co-showrunner Ley Lukins, who also developed the series; executive producers Ilana Frank, Linda Pope, Sally Wainwright, Nicola Shindler and Jocelyn Hamilton; co-executive producer Sonia Hosko; consulting producer Kathy Avrich Johnson; and writers Naledi Jackson, Sandra Chwialkowska, Katrina Saville and Sarah Goodman. Directors on the series, produced by ICF Films and distributed by Entertainment One, include Jordan Canning and Sara St Onge.

Other creative talent includes co-showrunner Adam Pettle and co-executive producer director Gregory Smith, writers Graeme Stewart, Joe Bernice and Matt Doyle, and directors Kelly Makin, Grant Harvey, John Fawcett and James Genn.

Shenae Grimes-Beech (left) and Angela Griffin in The Detail, which is led by women in front of and behind the camera

When DQ sits down with Griffin and Grimes-Beech, it is seven months since filming wrapped on the eight-part series, which launches on Canada’s CTV on March 25 and will air on ION TV in the US. But Griffin explicitly remembers her excitement at the first read-through for the show.

“It felt like the start of something really special,” she says. “There was such a good vibe about the whole job, which stayed for the entire job. There was such a good energy about it. It’s exciting being in a room full of women, I’ve got to say. Being sat around a table where I’m not the girlfriend or the wife was super cool. And then you’ve got all these great female directors and producers.

“I think it’s amazing but I also think, ‘Yes, it should be.’ I almost don’t want to big it up too much because that should just be the norm, but I’m really proud to be part of the show and part of something that is getting it right.”

Grimes-Beech picks up: “That’s one of the things I think we all loved about the show so much. It’s never, like, the female boss. It’s never something that is punctuated. It just ‘is,’ because why the fuck wouldn’t it be? Why shouldn’t women be treated as complete equals? It’s a laughable concept to think that’s not a reality for a lot of people.”

Griffin, best known for her long-running role on UK soap Coronation Street, plays Detective Stevie Hall, an experienced interrogator dealing with a thorny family life. Grimes-Beech, meanwhile, is Detective Jacqueline ‘Jack’ Cooper, a street-smart rookie with a personal life that threatens to eclipse her day job.

The Detail will debut on Canada’s CTV later this month

That work-life balance is a key element of the series, which sees procedural crime-of-the-week storylines play out against the backdrop of the detectives’ individual family lives and examines how the cases they face impact their home life.

It’s what makes The Detail stand out for Griffin, who says she wants to see characters on screen juggle the daily demands she faces in her own life. “And I actually really like it when people don’t handle it, because it is impossible,” she admits. “I thoroughly enjoy watching imperfect lives because it makes me feel better about my own. It makes me feel like I’m not a complete failure. Certainly for Stevie, she doesn’t get it right all the time when it comes to that balance. Going forward, I’d like to see her struggle more with it, because sometimes she does manage to pull it out of the bag. I’d like to up that ante a bit more.”

Grimes-Beech, meanwhile, prefers the crime element of the series, which she says she finds fascinating. “I don’t often watch dramas that are strictly about people’s personal lives but when I watched our preview back, I enjoyed the personal stuff because it really gives you something to fall in love with your character for. People are going to fall in love with the characters as well and that will keep them hooked.”

That’s not to say that the police element wasn’t important too. “I loved it,” Grimes-Beech says about the opportunity to play a cop. “One of my favourite moments was where we were busting into a trailer and we had our army dude on set with us and he was walking us through how to do it properly. It was so cool, it makes you feel so official.”

For Griffin, the opportunity was amped up by the chance to have a gun, something British crime dramas notably lack in comparison to their North American counterparts.

UK viewers will recognise British actor Griffin from such shows as Coronation Street and Lewis

“I have wanted to be a cop with a gun for ever,” the actor says, noting that the only props she was allowed as DS Lizzy Mannox in ITV drama Lewis were a notepad and pencil. “As an actor, it doesn’t get much better for me. I’ve got personal stuff, I get to cry in a corner, I get to shoot people, I get to shout at people, I get to be a mum. Some people don’t want to do that; for me as an actor, it’s everything I have ever wanted.”

That wasn’t the only difference on set for Griffin, who is used to a vastly different production schedule on British shows such as Brief Encounters and Ordinary Lies. “It’s bizarre that two countries that speak the same language, that have similar-sized industries, could work in such different ways,” she muses. “The unionisation of the industry in North America as a whole makes it massively different. So certain people can’t do other jobs or double up on things – even the drivers have to be from the drivers’ union. You can’t just nip in a car with an AD [assistant director]. And they have hair and make-up – two people. In the UK, the make-up does the hair and that’s just really normal. It differs on so many different levels but I like both ways of working.”

In contrast, it was a much shorter shoot than usual for Grimes-Beech, who is more used to the year-long effort needed to produce a 22-episode season of a US network drama, such as The CW’s 90210. After five years on that show, and a five-year stint before that on DeGrassi, she’s since mixed things up with a range of feature and TV films. But with the small screen stronger than ever, the actor is happy to return to a potentially long-running series that affords her some security and the chance to pick up other projects on the side.

“While there’s no stability for an actor, I feel like a TV show is as close as it gets and I have so much appreciation and gratitude for a job like this that I didn’t have when I was young,” she says. “When you fall in love with a character and a show as much as I have with this one, you wish it will run forever. That’s not often the case.

Shenae Grimes-Beech starred in The CW’s 90210 for five years

“Back in the day, like five years ago, we all wanted to break out and do movies so badly that an Oscar was the ultimate dream. Now you’ve got Oscar winners on TV shows all the time – look at the cast of Big Little Lies. Are you kidding me! It’s mind-boggling and that’s not something anybody in the industry would have said would happen five years ago. With film, unless it’s a Marvel movie or whatever, no one’s making any money. Those are passion projects and TV allows you to fulfil those passions on the side without having to worry. It’s a different climate in the industry.”

For Griffin, it’s not lost on her that she has had to cross the Atlantic to find a leading role, following in the footsteps of other black British talent such as Damson Idris, Idris Elba and Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya. “There’s some great stuff being made [in North America] and a lot of our British, particularly black British, talent is scoring really well out there,” she says, adding that there’s a simple way to ensure more black and ethnic minority talent can pick up leading roles. “Just see people for the parts,” the actor concludes. “It doesn’t have to have the word ‘black’ before it to have someone audition for it. You just open up your casting for everybody and you let everybody come.

“I love the fact I’m doing this show, I absolutely love it and it’s so exciting to be in Canada and I feel really lucky to have it. It would be quite nice to do a series in the UK where I can be one of the leads and see my children every single night and have the same depth, and I’m slightly sad I’ve had to go across the pond to do it.”

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