‘White Heat’ Claire Foy, Sam Claflin Q&A: ‘It’s an emotional journey’

Saturday, Mar 3, 2012

from Digital Spy / by Catriona Wightman

Here at Digital Spy, we’re a little bit excited about BBC Two’s brand new drama White Heat! The show focuses on seven students living in a house together in the 1960s… then follows them as they grow up!

We’ll be bringing you chats with the cast every day until the show airs, and first up are the lovely Claire Foy and Sam Claflin, who spoke to reporters when we visited them on set. Read on to find out what they had to say!

Sam, is that your hair? It looks a bit Kevin Keegan!
“I wish it was mine! You’re definitely not the first person to say that. It’s of the time, I’m told. It’s a weft. I had no idea what a weft was before we started – it’s become the bane of my life now! They’re basically like clip-on things but they glue them to my hair or my head… I feel like such a diva sitting there having all my make up and hair done! But I’m not the only one, so no complaints.”

What about your hair, Claire – is that a weft?
“Yeah. I don’t know where it ends and I begin any more!”
Sam: “We all go through so many looks of different eras. I think they’re just trying to change it up a bit.”

What’s your favourite look?
“1968, I think for me. It’s a bit more grungy, no flared tight jeans, and a bit shorter hair. Only a bit shorter.”
Claire: “Less like Kevin Keegan!”

Are you never tempted to go home with your hair like that?
“I’d love to.”
Claire: “He suits it, doesn’t he?”
Sam: “I’m so tempted to grow it but I’ve never had the opportunity unfortunately so I’m living the moment while I’m on set, making the most of it! What’s your favourite era?”
Claire: “’70s, because I get to wear trousers. That’s it, really! And the rest of the time the skirts are just quite short and it’s a bit embarrassing. But yes, definitely ’70s. I don’t know, I wear less make up and try less hard.”

So tell us a bit about your characters.
Claire: “I play Charlotte Pugh. When you first see her when she’s 18, she’s come from quite a staid, 1950s, mum and dad, mock tudor house in Gerrards Cross and she just wants to break away. She’s one of the first teenagers, I suppose, of the generation, and wants to break away from it and really do something and go to university and really live her life and be really exciting and she does. However! She’s really, really ambitious and driven and quite controlled but as she gets older she sort of realises that everything comes to bite her on her arse, and all the ambitions that she has don’t necessarily become fulfilled. And her mum’s mad – her mum’s deranged. She’s a good one.”
Sam: “I’m the bad one! I lead people astray.”

You’re so proud of that!
“I am! It’s such a great opportunity for any actor. He’s not the bad guy – he’s basically the lovable rogue. He’s the bad boy I suppose – the James Dean of the ’70s.”
Claire: [laughs] “I love that!”
Sam: “I’m speaking very highly of myself! No, but hopefully I’ll bring across an element to him which the audience should be able to sympathise and empathise with. He quite heavily gets into drugs, he’s very passionate about politics. He’s from a very privileged upbringing – his father’s very wealthy and his grandfather’s a viscount, so he’s from lots of money. I think he does everything in his power to rebel against that really. He’s the landlord of the house which they all move into. His daddy bought the house, it’s that kind of [thing]. But he hates the thought of following in his father’s footsteps.”
Claire: “We’re quite similar in that way, aren’t we? Trying not to turn out like our parents.”

Do they hold onto their principles throughout the series or do they change?
“I think I do, definitely. I think he follows through as far as he can but I think he lets himself down at each hurdle. It’s usually over himself – he isn’t completely in control of himself and therefore lets himself down in moments. But he can never foresee that, and usually it’s Charlotte who tries to push him in the right direction.”
Claire: “But it’s like life gets in the way. Charlotte very much is the same person in the beginning [as at the end]. She has the same fight about her, but what she knows she can achieve is completely different and what she’s fighting for is completely different. Whereas in the beginning she thought she could change the world – I mean, they both do and they want to – and as you get older it does get eroded slightly.”
Sam: “Okay, we can’t completely change the world, but we can do it little bits at a time.”
Claire: “We’re following a period of time where they were a really political generation – they knew a lot and they saw so much happening so by the time you get to the late ’70s and it’s the first female prime minister, so much has happened in their lives that, when they first started on the journey of discovery, they never would have imagined. It’s like a political journey, it’s an emotional journey.”

You also play older characters and have wrinkle make up…
“They’re not good days!”
Sam: “That’s even longer in the make up chair.”

Is it like a glimpse into the future?
Claire: “I really hope not. I don’t know! I think Charlotte’s had a hard life, you see, so it does take its toll… that’s my excuse! Because we’re all different ages playing people who are 40 years old, it helps to have make up on that makes you feel older or wear clothes that make you feel a little bit old. So we have to use it to help us to be able to do that, really. The make up department are amazing. It’s nice to do different things… I’m glad to take it off at the end of the day!”
Sam: “It makes me very red-raw at the end of the day. It makes me feel 40 years old when I’m taking it off, actually! But like Claire mentioned, the make up and the costumes really help you feel a lot slower in your body and the physicality changes.”

What is the relationship like between Jack and Claire? It’s like the love story of the show, isn’t it?
“Well, love story… she’s in love with me, me not really, probably!”
Claire: “I think it’s going to be one of those ones where people are screaming at the television going, ‘Just hit him! Just hit him!'”
Sam: “It does get a little bit tedious on her part, bless her! I think he likes to think that he gets everything that he wants and I think the mentality of his childhood and probably being given everything he wanted as a kid, I think he continues to live life like that really. So if he wants her, he’ll have her. If he doesn’t want her, she can wait outside while he has somebody else! He’s like that.”
Claire: “I think Charlotte sees in Jack the man he becomes when he’s about 45 years old, as is so often in life! And she sees how wonderful he is and how brilliant he is and sees all his great qualities, which quite often he doesn’t see himself. And she wants to be the one to help him but he won’t let her in. It’s that classic thing – she waits and waits and waits and waits and waits and then she gets to a point where she goes, ‘Oh my God, you actually don’t care about me at all’. I have this quite a lot with her but I think she keeps going back because she does love him and she just knows that he loves her as well.”
Sam: “He doesn’t like to admit it really. I think he might have lacked a lot of love as a child from mother and father so therefore I don’t think he knows how to love or how to express his love to anybody else. It gets a bit complicated I think.”
Claire: “But it could work! It really could work and if it did work it would be wonderful. If you just stopped being an idiot! But they’re both to blame, I think – that’s the interesting thing.”
Sam: “She lets him get away with it in certain circumstances.”
Claire: “She convinces herself that he really does care about her and they’re not putting any restrictions on each other and actually it just comes back to bite her on the arse. Oh dear!”

Have you ever lived in a house share like the characters do in White Heat?
“Not with random [people], no. With mates yes, but not a house like that.”
Claire: “I lived with seven girls! We were in Liverpool and it was sort of… really bad. Amazing at the same time! I couldn’t imagine if there were boys in the house as well. It would have been terrible!”
Sam: “I’ve lived with boys and girls and I find that boys are generally cleaner than girls. Generally! This is a big generalisation! This is Jack’s thoughts! No, I’m very clean. Just to put that out there.”

What do you make of the comparisons between White Heat and shows like This Life or Our Friends In The North?
Sam: “I think this is very different. It has similarities, of course it does, but it has similarities to… Mad Men.”
Claire: “Oh God, don’t say that!”
Sam: “This is like the new Lord of the Rings! I think there are always similarities but hopefully we’ll bring something very fresh and new and I think the fact that we’re all very young, and we seem to get on really well, there’s a lovely dynamic between us as people as well as actors as well as the characters, so hopefully we’ll be able to portray that.”
Claire: “And Our Friends In The North was a huge success, so hopefully that’s quite a good thing! I suppose it could be worse, it could be something else!”

White Heat begins on Thursday, March 8 at 9pm on BBC Two.

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