The beautiful Welsh star Jan Anderson is known to many as Chloe in the UK’s high rating show BBC’s Casualty and in the hit HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. Now this bubbly beauty is back to play the lead femme fatale in the new British comedy The Fitzroy. Not only does this talented young lady have a wealth of credits to her name, she shines at both drama and comedy. Jan shares how she sometimes uses her seductive side, thinks with her heart and what it was really like to film on a submarine!
Congratulations on getting the role of Sonya, in the black Comedy ‘The Fitzroy’. Could you tell us about the character? Thank you. Sonya is a true femme fatale, she was a lounge singer before the disaster happened, she is manipulative and seductive and uses her sexuality as a weapon. She is power hungry and murderous and will do anything (or anyone!) to get what she wants. She prays on the weak and is the one responsible for all the chaos ensuing onboard the Fitzroy!
Sonya in the Fitzroy “is power hungry and murderous and will do anything (or anyone!) to get what she wants.”
What attracted you to the film? The Fitzroy script was so unusual, the world it is set in crosses so many genres, the characters were such odd bods, the script was so hilarious, the production company so forward thinking and sharp, and the director is simply a genius!
Do you think there are any similarities between you and your character, Sonia? Erm, I have to be careful what I say here! Well…I definitely couldn’t ever murder for power! But for sure, I know how to use my sexuality and feminine ways to get a man wrapped around my finger if need be! I’m definitely a bit of a drama queen too like Sonya and have her passion and energy…but unlike Sonia who thinks with her head, I think with my heart.
What was it like filming with a majority male cast? Male or female, who cares as long as they are genuine, fun people, which ‘The Fitzroy’ bunch certainly are! But in terms of character, Sonya loves to be around mostly men so she can play with them like toys, so in that way it was perfect. David Gant and Stuart McGugan were such wonderful storytellers on set, being older established actors who have worked with people like Bette Davis and had the most fascinating tales to tell, that had us all in stitches.
Jan Anderson as Sonia and Cerith Flinn as Bernard in The Fitzroy
Cerith Flinn who plays our lead Bernard is one little lamb close to my heart as he is a Welshie like me, and such a sweetheart. We had so much fun doing our scenes together, he is such a generous and sparkly actor, I was lucky to be cast opposite him. Kenneth Collard is a comedic guru, his comedy is so subtle and genuine, we literally had to turn away from him on his takes because we were laughing so hard behind camera. And the wonderful David Schaal who plays the gross submarine owner Cecil couldn’t have been more opposite to his nasty character, he is quite the darling, sweet and sensitive and gives bear hugs all the time…a true gentleman. In one of our fight scenes he accidently hit my face and at the end of the take we realized there was blood streaming down my nose, he felt so bad bless him…all in all the boys on ‘The Fitzroy’ have been inspirational to watch as an actor and massive giggles to work with, as have the ladies!
The film is set on a submarine and for some of the film you filmed on The Black Widow-a Russian submarine from the cold war. What was it like filming in an actual submarine? And do you think it added to the atmosphere? Filming on a real sub was a brave and challenging decision, but it was absolutely the magic ingredient to making the wacky and wonderful world pop, onboard ‘The Fitzroy’. The Films style is so unusual and the visuals inside the sub were crazy, it definitely affected our performances and put us all in the headspace of the confined and uncomfortable surroundings these characters lived in.
“Filming on a real sub was a brave and challenging decision, but it was absolutely the magic ingredient to making the wacky and wonderful.”
What challenges have you faced when filming ‘The Fitzroy’? The main challenges I think were for the crew and lack of space, everyone literally on top of each other, everyone on board had bruises and scrapes all over them by the end of the shoot. As actors because the sub is stuck on a sandbank in the med, the whole sub is on a massive tilt to one side, so for me that was very weird doing scenes on a slant…but wearing one stiletto instead of two soon sorted that problem! We all got very up close and personal very quick as there was literally no space for any personal space! Also if you wanted to go for a pee, you had to climb out along the sub through holes and corridors, up ladders, round missiles, through more corridors then up stairs, then get onto another boat that was anchored by the side of the sub to then go down more stairs…it took like 20 minutes to just go for a pee!
Do you have any funny stories to tell us, when filming on set? On the last day of shoot, Cerith and I were messing around on the top of the sub taking silly piccys of Sonya pouncing on Bernard, I pushed him down on his back and jumped on top of him as if Sonya was about to eat him up…when suddenly we realised we were slipping off the side of the submarine…nearly went in head first! Costume and makeup would not have been happy!!
Throughout your successful career, you have worked in TV, Film and Theatre, which do you prefer? I love them all for different reasons, Theatre is where I started as a child and there is nothing better than the live adrenaline buzz of an audience. Theatre is a high and really pushes you to your limits, mentally and physically. TV is fast and snappy and if you work on a series for along time the people you work with become your second family and it’s such a safe and creative environment to have the luxury of working in. Then Film is an intense world you absorb in for a short amount of time and you have a beginning, middle and end to your characters journey which you really get to explore on a film and get lots of takes and go extremely deep with the detail. I love them all… as an actor the perfect life for me would be to constantly mix them all up!
Some of your other credits include playing the sexy Chloe Hill, in ‘Casualty’, Stella in ‘Curb your Enthusiasm’ and Wild child Jodie, in BBC’s ‘Tiger Bay’. What for you has been a highlight in your career so far? Weirdly enough, the other day I was chatting with Ian White – the wonderful director of ‘Tiger Bay’ – and I told him that even after all these years, playing wild child Jodie Monks on ‘Tiger Bay’ was the role I enjoyed and loved playing the most. There are a variety of reasons why, this was very much my first series regular role and at the age of 18, I felt so alive and excited at this amazing opportunity I had been given so young…and I just LOVE playing bad girls! She was naughty and cheeky and rebellious, which was pretty much how I felt as Jan at that time in my youth, so it was so close to my heart playing her, Also working in Wales always feels so raw and real to me as I’m a proper welsh chick…I would love to work back there again. But recently working With Larry David on HBO’s ‘Curb your Enthusiasm’ was pretty wild and also the Sony Pictures feature film ‘Detention’ with comedian Joseph Khan was electrifying! But ‘The Fitzroy’ has been an experience that I’m sure it will be hard to top, working on a submarine with an amazing cast and director; I am over the moon to be a part of it!
“playing wild child Jodie Monks on ‘Tiger Bay’ was the role I enjoyed and loved playing the most.”
If you could choose one actor you would really like to work with, who would it be? Definitely Anthony Hopkins, I found out a while back I’m actually related to him, he’s my third cousin once removed! So it’s blood but getting very thin! Haha! I think he is an incredible actor and I love the way he is still a bit of a mystery and keeps himself to himself. I feel he never gives his power away and I love the dark characters he plays.