Tag Archives: Clemence Poesy

Back with a Vengeance

Ahead of the launch of Anglo-French drama The Tunnel’s third and final season next week, DQ visits the set to find stars Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy in an optimistic mood and a new lead writer taking the show back to its roots.

The Tunnel has never been a series to take the easy path. Its Anglo-French take on the beloved Scandinavian culture-clash police drama Bron/Broen (The Bridge) risked charges of mere imitation, while filming in the Channel Tunnel represented a logistical high-wire act.

Most recently, external factors – Brexit, the withdrawal of original coproducer Canal+ and showrunner Ben Richards standing down – have combined to make the third and final season, subtitled Vengeance, another tricky proposition.

Yet when DQ meets cast and crew in a terraced house above Dover train station on a baking hot May day, optimism abounds. Much has changed for the leading pair of coppers, Karl Roebuck and Elise Wassermann, in the eight months since they brought down a ring of international terrorists. The perpetually careworn Karl (Stephen Dillane) is in an uncharacteristically happy place, reconciled with wife and family.

“Part of the difficulty of the second season,” recalls Dillane, reclining in the front garden in an uncomfortable-looking tweed suit, “was that this awful thing had happened [the murder of Karl’s teenage son], but it was important not to become morose or depressed. That was hard to pull off. You could decide this man was utterly floored by his son’s death, which would be a reasonable character choice, but here, he’s not. We’ve had to move things on now, and he’s in good shape: still a detective, happy enough with work. Family life has changed, but he seems alright.”

The Tunnel stars Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy

Similarly, Elise was left in disarray, betrayed by her lover and almost blinded by a pathogen that was injected into her eye. “I was up for having a scar,” laughs Clémence Poésy in the back garden, wearing Elise’s de facto uniform of shapeless jumper and black skinny jeans, “but she’s made a full recovery.”

Physically, if not psychologically? “Yeah, she starts Vengeance in denial. She’s made lots of very rational changes to put the events of the last series behind her, but something’s not quite right: she grinds her teeth a lot and breaks a tooth in her sleep. If it seems to be under control, it probably isn’t, and Karl coming back breaks that cycle.

“Season one felt like Elise opening up to someone then trying to protect that person, season two was the opposite, with Karl seeing her vulnerable and trying to protect her. Season three has them both going through a lot without sharing everything. Karl is worried about Elise and Elise is unsettled by decisions Karl is making.”

With former showrunner Richards stepping aside to work on the BBC’s adaptations of JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike books, Emilia Di Girolamo, lead writer on Law and Order: UK, came on board. “Ben looked at complex geopolitics with [second season] Sabotage,” she says. “It would have been easier to go bigger and more epic, but I wanted to take it back to its roots and have an intensely personal, emotional story. I worked in prisons for eight years and have a PhD in offender rehabilitation, so it mattered to me that the killers’ motives are rooted in their experience. In this case, that’s trauma and loss. I get excited by how horrifying human nature can be when a person has been so damaged that they have nothing left to lose.”

Dillane’s Karl Roebuck is in a happier place at the start of season three

The Tunnel’s final season, which begins on Sky Atlantic on December 14, revolves around crimes fuelled by the refugee crisis. “We were writing as the refugee camps in Calais were being dismantled,” says Di Girolamo. “I remembered reading these articles about 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children who were missing in Europe. As a writer and a parent, I couldn’t ignore this startling statistic, so I asked the question behind the story: how can one child’s life be worth more than another’s?”

And then there is the spectre of Brexit hanging over a show that pivots on the fragility of cross-Channel relations. “Nobody in the writers room really believed it would happen,” recalls Di Girolamo of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. “But while we’ve got a few Brexit gags and have ramped up the unease between our French and British characters, we wanted to focus on the case and the characters. It wouldn’t have massively affected the drama if we’d voted Remain.”

The Tunnel itself experienced something of a ‘Frexit’ with the withdrawal of coproducer Canal+ (which, it is anticipated, will be airing the series in France as an acquisition), yet this decision was, in reality, neither a huge surprise nor unduly problematic, says executive producer Karen Wilson.

“Sky were clear they wanted a final season, whereas it was a big thing for Canal+ to even come back for a second. Their involvement would have been a bonus rather than something we were anticipating, because historically they haven’t done returning series. They also have a different way of working: they expect to have all their shooting scripts before going into production, but no one in Britain works like that. The European aesthetic and English-French coproduction are what have made this show unique, so rather than running away from it, we decided to embrace the challenges and the differences. We’d reached an entente cordiale by the end of season one!”

French actor Poésy returns as Elise Wassermann

In some ways, it was even a positive development. “It’s a lot simpler working for one broadcaster than two,” says fellow exec producer Manda Levin. “We had a story meeting where all the British people were thinking the audience would never forgive Karl for his fling, but the French people didn’t get that at all – he’s just shagged a really sexy woman! We came at stories really differently, but we do miss their robust script notes that pushed and challenged us. They forced us to involve the French perspective even when that was difficult from the start, and that’s what made the show feel a bit different and made us work in a different way. By season three, we knew how to do that, so I hope Vengeance won’t feel any less French.”

Logistics were easier this season, with French sequences shot in one six-week block, sandwiched between English shoots of similar lengths. The active participation of [Channel Tunnel operator] Eurotunnel further smoothed things, and also of course afforded enormous creative opportunities. The Tunnel remains the only TV series to shoot inside the Channel Tunnel itself, although documentaries and commercials have been given access on occasion. Producer Toby Welch has nothing but praise for the Eurotunnel team, especially in meeting some of the final season’s more challenging briefs, which included rats swarming over one character.

“We can’t compromise their security or disrupt their business, so the challenges they faced to make it work for us were huge. While we did use some CGI, a member of our art department still had to count in and count out 200 dead rats meticulously while a member of Eurotunnel oversaw it. There was as much attention paid to the number of dead rats going in and out of the tunnel as there was to crew members [three Eurotunnel staff were required to be in attendance for every member of The Tunnel’s cast and crew], and rightly so! We also had access to some phenomenal properties outside the tunnel: at the beginning of season three, [Eurotunnel’s director of public affairs] John Keefe took us on a tour of cool things that hadn’t been in the show yet, so Samphire Hoe in Kent features prominently in the final season.”

Six-episode Vengeance is the concluding season of The Tunnel

Perhaps appropriately, having invoked a plague of rats, the biggest challenges were presented by some pretty Biblical weather on Samphire Hoe itself, a nature reserve created from almost five million cubic metres of chalk marl excavated during the tunnel’s construction.

“Samphire Hoe is quite exposed to the elements,” Wilson explains, “so prior to filming a big sequence there, the production team looked at the weather for the last eight years and identified the week that has always had kind weather. Inevitably, it was awful! They closed the road from Dover and some people couldn’t even get to the location. We lost a day but it all came together in the end.”

Many of the off-camera team members from previous seasons have returned, among them director Gilles Bannier, a veteran of French crime thriller Spiral, who filmed the second half of the season; the first three episodes were helmed by Taboo and Jordskott director Anders Engstrom. The show gave Bannier the platform to realise his ambition of working in British television – he has since directed both Tin Star and In the Dark – and it remains a unique proposition on his CV.

“My trademark style is based on documentaries, where I began my career – I used to be very handheld. I wanted to keep [The Tunnel] simple, to look after the beauty and cinematic side of it and to make sure the police work felt real, but also to hold the characters at the centre and foster the dark, baroque feeling that is part of The Tunnel. It’s totally different to all the crime shows I’ve done. In France, the idea of the auteur is still very strong, while on UK television the writer is the most important. For The Tunnel, it was a true collaboration between the writers, directors, producers and execs, which I loved.”

In the absence of Canal+, Bannier and French adapter Eric Forestier (who also directed Poésy in 2008 feature La Troisième Partie du Monde) helped ensure the accuracy of the French aspects. “We would ask whether we’ve done the equivalent of getting a 19-year-old into Wetherspoons and asking for a cherry brandy,” laughs Welch. “They told us what smelled French, even down to the names of characters.”

This final season, produced by Kudos and distributed by Endemol Shine International, will be leaner than ever, running for just six episodes – a decision, the team insists, that was driven by creative rather than financial reasons. “With six episodes, there’s something exciting about being so near the end, even at the start,” says Welch. “It’s nice to have a new format, because there’s no point in repeating ourselves, and there’s something very satisfying about having a trilogy.”

And a trilogy it will remain, Levin confirms. “Knowing we won’t see Stephen and Clémence on screen together again makes me sad, but we do them justice. We started The Tunnel with a man losing his son. Emilia loves writing about parents, children, love and loss, so there was a real circularity to the series. Going out on a high is the way to go.”

For Wilson, the series’ legacy is significant. “I started at the BBC and every story we developed had to be completely British. The idea of subtitles on BBC1 was anathema, and the world has evolved so much since then – in terms of stories we can tell, there are no holds barred.”

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Women who walk the global stage

Gillian Anderson in The Fall
Gillian Anderson in The Fall

Ever since she first portrayed Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has been one of the world’s best-loved and most accomplished TV actresses.

Equally at home in costume dramas (Great Expectations, War & Peace) and contemporary thrillers (Hannibal), Anderson always turns in good performances and attracts strong ratings. Right now, she is winning yet more acclaim for her performance as DSI Stella Gibson in BBC drama The Fall. Next year, she will feature in Starz’ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods.

One of the most notable characteristics of Anderson’s career is her appeal to audiences around the world. So this week, to celebrate Anderson’s latest outing, we look at a group of TV actresses who have broken through internationally – or are about to do so.

Maslany-orphan-black-orphan-blackTatiana Maslany is a Canadian actress who has came to prominence with clone drama Orphan Black, which will end in 2017 after five seasons. This year, she took home an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. One of the most exciting things about Maslany’s work in Orphan Black is that she has had to play multiple characters with distinctive personalities and traits – thus proving her versatility. Her next two projects are movies, one of which, Stronger, is about the Boston Marathon bombing. She has also expressed a desire to do more theatre. But when she returns to TV it will inevitably be something special.

perroni-la-gataMaite Perroni is a telenovela star with more than three million Twitter followers. She shot to stardom a decade ago when she featured in Rebelde, the Mexican remake of Argentine telenovela Rebelde Way. By 2009, she had been named the new queen of telenovelas by Univision and continues to perform at the top of her game. Perroni has now starred in seven telenovelas, including acclaimed series La Gata. More recently she has starred in Televisa’s hit series Antes Muerta Que Lichita (I’d Rather Be Dead than Plain), for which she won a high-profile Best Lead Actress Award.

sofiegrabolSofie Grabol’s breakthrough in Denmark came courtesy of series like Taxa and Nikolai and Julie. But her status as one of the world’s top TV actresses was confirmed when she played Detective Sarah Lund in The Killing (Forbrydelsen). Over the course of three seasons (2007-2012), she was a major factor in the success of Nordic noir around the world. Illness took her off TV in 2013 but she made a welcome return in 2014 as Hildur Odegard in English-language drama Fortitude. She will be back for season two of Fortitude, which is due to air on Sky Atlantic soon.

miriam-leone-non-uccidere-replicaMiriam Leone was crowned Miss Italia in 2008. But since then, the Sicilian actress has gone on to become one of Italy’s best-known TV actresses. Key credits include Distretto Di Polizia, The Veiled Lady, 1992 and Non Uccidere, in which she plays female detective Valeria Ferro. Leone also appears in one episode of the forthcoming drama epic Medici: Masters of Florence, a production that will introduce her to the wider world of TV.

Happy-ValleySarah Lancashire must surely qualify for the “national treasure” status that has previously been bestowed on British actresses such as Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. Her electrifying performance in the BBC crime drama Happy Valley is the crowning achievement in a career that stretches back to the 1980s. Her first big role was as Raquel Wolstenhulme in Coronation Street – a part that displayed her comic genius. Subsequently, she has appeared in dozens of shows including Clocking Off, Rose & Maloney, The Paradise and Last Tango in Halifax. Although Happy Valley wasn’t set up to be an international series, its success in distribution proves Lancashire has a fanbase that extends well beyond the UK.

hellin-the-bridgeSofia Helin’s performance as Saga Noren in The Bridge is one of the most admired pieces of TV acting of recent years. The Swedish-Danish coproduction, which has been aired around the world, currently runs to three seasons and Helin will be back for a fourth (and probably final) outing. Prior to The Bridge, Helin’s main credits were series such as Arn: The Knight Templar and Svaleskar. Even if The Bridge is over, the good news is that Helin will be seen again in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s new drama The Same Sky, which is set in Berlin in the 1970s. She will also be seen in The Snowman, a British movie adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s classic Harry Hole novel.

Scandal-pic-season-2-pic-7WashingtonKerry Washington carved out a superb movie career (Ray, The Last King of Scotland, Django Unchained) before coming to prominence as a TV actress in the ABC drama Scandal. As political fixer Olivia Pope, she has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe. Washington’s versatility as an actress was further demonstrated when she played Anita Hill in HBO’s 2016 TV movie Confirmation. Again, she received an Emmy nomination. In April 2016, her production company Simpson Street signed an overall deal with ABC Studios, though there is no news yet on projects. “Kerry Washington is not only a great actress but a smart, creative producer, and we’re thrilled to have her production company Simpson Street as part of ABC Studios,” said Patrick Moran, executive VP of ABC Studios. “We’re looking forward to making great TV with Kerry in front of and behind the camera.”

rebeccagibneyRebecca Gibney is a New Zealand-born actress who has carved out a successful career on Australian TV over the last three decades. Key credits include The Flying Doctors, Halifax f.p., Packed to the Rafters and, most recently, Wanted. In Wanted, Gibney and co-star Geraldine Hakewill play two strangers from very different backgrounds who are caught up in a deadly carjacking. They’re then forced to rely on each other as they go on the run. The six-part series rated pretty well in February/March 2016 and has been picked up for a second season (also six parts).

The-Tunnel-Intro-02-16x9-1Clemence Poesy is still known to many as a cute French girl from the Harry Potter movies. But she proved her prowess as a serious actress when she starred in The Tunnel, the Anglo-French remake of The Bridge. Trying to compete with Sofia Helin’s performance was a tough ask, but Poesy pulls it off beautifully as Elise Wasserman. She reprised the role of Elise this year in a second series of The Tunnel. Next up are two movies, Final Portrait and Demain Tout Commence. There’s no news yet of future TV plans. Previous TV credits include Birdsong, an adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ novel where she played opposite Eddie Redmayne.

ku_damm_56-michelsen-centreClaudia Michelsen is a well-known German actress who recently impressed in Ku’damm 56, a TV miniseries produced by UFA for ZDF. After attracting an audience in excess of six million, the 1950s set series has been recommissioned (Ku’damm 59). Michelsen (pictured centre) has been consistently busy since the late 1980s on both TV movies and series. For much of the last decade she featured in the popular crime drama series Tatort. More recent credits include Flemming, Block B Under Arrest and Crossing Lines. She also appears in the first episodes of new Epix drama Berlin Station.

pauleypPauley Perrette plays eccentric forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on CBS hit series NCIS, making appearances in its various franchises. Prior to NCIS, she played roles in shows like Dawson’s Creek and 24. Interestingly, Perrette is one of the most popular actresses in the US when measured by Q Scores (a measurement of the familiarity and appeal of brands and celebrities that is taken very seriously by the advertising and media community). Perrette is pretty modest about her popularity and has shown no desire to quit NCIS (in fact, she has signed on for seasons 14 and 15). But when she does decide to move on, she’ll be in heavy demand.

korelBerguzar Korel has been one of Turkey’s leading actresses for much of the last decade. Her big break came in 2006 with Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. After this she had major roles in 1001 Nights (Binbir Gece) and Endless Song (Bitmeyen Sarki). A guest appearance in Magnificent Century was then followed by another triumph with ATV’s hit series Karadayi. The latter series, which aired from 2012 to 2015, saw Korel pick up a number of best actress awards.

Choi-Ji-WooChoi Ji-woo is known around the world for acclaimed Korean dramas such as Beautiful Days (2001) and Winter Sonata (2002). But she is still very much in business, starring in recent series such as Twenty Again (2015) and Woman With a Suitcase (2016). In the latter, which started airing in September, she plays a woman who goes from being a disgraced manager at a law office to a great attorney. Like all the greats, Choi Ji-woo is very versatile, equally comfortable taking on serious, romantic or comedic roles.

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