As E4 prepare to launch Crazyhead, a brand new comedy horror from Howard Overman, (Misfits), I speak to two of its stars, Susan Wokoma and Cara Theobold.
When Amy (Cara Theobold) discovers her best mate is harbouring a mean-mouthed, hell-raised demon, she knows she has to act. Thankfully she isn’t alone, she has Raquel (Susan Wokoma).
Impulsive, temperamental and prone to violent outbursts, Raquel isn’t the obvious ally, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Together the incongruous duo prepare for their first exorcism. What could possibly go wrong?
After attending the press launch for the series last month, where I was treated to the first episode, I instantly fell in love with the characters, the stories and the Crazyhead world.
So much so, that after the screening I simply had to catch up with Susan Wokoma and Cara Theobald to find out more about Crazyhead…
What was it like watching it on a big screen?
Cara Theobold: This was my first time seeing it. I wanted to save it to see it in its cinematic glory! And I’m really glad I did. It’s just great to see what we spent a very intense five months making, and loving, up on the screen.
Amy has a lot to take in, and she has to do it very quickly! In the space of a day essentially, she has to get on board with the demon hunting world.
It was just great to see the first episode, because we finished filming in August, so not that long ago. And it was nice to revisit where our characters begin, because they’re not a team when they meet and then you see their journey into becoming into becoming serious hell bitches.
Susan Wokoma: I couldn’t wait! I had to have a preview, because I knew I’d be really nervous and when I’m filming, I don’t watch playback. So I do the scene and then go “Right, cool. You guys are grown ups. Sort it out and make something out of that. Good luck!”
Even when the trailer dropped, that was the most that I’d seen of it. But I just knew that in order to do this alright, I had to see it before. So I was watching it in a Pret on my phone! And it was like, “buffer buffer buffer buffer”. (Laughs)
But seeing it on the big screen was completely different. There were a lot of things that popped out at me this time around and I’m so chuffed that our cast and crew worked so hard and were so brilliant, that it’s great to see everything come together.
Was there anything in particular that jumped out at you?
SW: Well… And this is a minor worry of mine, but I don’t drive. I’m a Londoner, I’ve got an Oyster Card. So I’ve never actually been in the front seat of a car before.
So we had to do a lot of the scenes on a green screen. She (Cara) was there going “Erm, Susie. You have to turn it on!” (Laughs)
CT: And I kept going to her “Check your mirrors”.
SW: (Laughs) Yes! I was so concerned with character and story that I didn’t even go on YouTube and search “How do you drive a car”. It was on green screen, so I didn’t know what it was going to look like. But it looked great.
You touched on it earlier, but it’s quite an unlikely friendship. But why does it work so well?
SW: Raquel has been seeing demons since she was 14. She’s been doing this on her own, she’s not met any see-er’s before. So even though she’s very sure that they exist and that they’re a real thing, she’s incredibly lonely.
So the moment she realises that somebody else can see them she’s ON IT. She also happens to be really lovely and cool so she’s like “Yeah, cool. Friends friends friends!”
CT: I love how Raquel thinks Amy’s cool! (Laughs)
SW: Yeah, but she does. She’s her new shiny best friend! It’s mainly because of that shared experience. They’ve never met anybody else.
CT: And Amy is an outsider in her own way having grown up always being able to see things that other people couldn’t. Raquel is pretty extreme compared to Amy’s pretty safe world, she’s got her two mates, works in a bowling alley and she’s not really going anywhere.
She’s sort of known that these things are real and known that something’s not been quite right. So when Raquel comes along, she’s not just given the chance to become everything she can be, she’s forced to assume this role of taking action.
SW: The thing that struck me, is that with friendships and relationships, it’s really hard because you can never be in the other person’s head. You can’t see what they see and these two women see the exact same thing. They see these demons and I think that is extraordinary.
CT: They really do need each other so they don’t actually have a choice in whether they want to be friends or not. There’s times where Amy really can’t bear Raquel and vice versa. As with any relationship, there are ups and downs, but they need each other.
She might not take any shit, but there’s a huge vulnerability with Raquel isn’t there?
SW: Yeah, massively. There’s this whole thing about “strong female characters” – yeah, great. But I feel like that can almost be a stock character. I’ve played those parts before where you’re really sassy, and fun. But there’s nothing else to you.
What you have to understand about Raquel is that she’s been fighting since she was a child and killing things since she was a child, so she is tough. She’s fit and she can do that and there’s a level of bravado that she has to have when she’s faced with something that’s going to kill her!
With that has come great loneliness… She’s incredibly lonely and her brother does not know about the things that she sees, and she’s constructed it to be that way. Because she wants to be able to come home, and not talk about it and not think about it, so she literally hasn’t uttered the words to anyone.
Apart from this girl and it’s HUGE. The vulnerability is very close to the surface, which is why she’s able to switch like a child sometimes on the turn of her head.
CT: I think that’s something that’s very appealing for me, and I’m sure for Susie as well. Playing these strong female roles, but strong doesn’t necessarily just mean tough and being able to handle themselves.
People are flawed, they are vulnerable and they do sometimes say the wrong thing. And sometimes they say something really horrible that they might regret later, or maybe they don’t.
These are flawed heroes which you often get. Think of superheroes. The male heroes that we look up, we love so much more when they’re flawed. It’s wonderful to play characters that are also flawed. It makes them more human, more personable and they don\t have to go from the archetypal role of “the nice girl” to being “the strong woman” – humans are so much more than that!
Female friendship is also something you don’t see that often on television. Was that a big appeal for you?
SW: Massive. It’s front and centre of this and it gets bigger and deeper the more they go through together. It’s absolutely at the core of it.
CT: Even above all that. It is female friendship, but it’s also about friendship in general. There are friendships in your life such as Amy with Jake and Raquel with her brother Tyler, that there are moments in this where gender doesn’t necessarily even come in to it.
How does Amy’s best friend Suzanne, play into their relationship?
CT: Amy and Susanne’s friendship is an established relationship. They have been friends since they were children and they live together. They’re best friends.
But then, you get the crazy scenario of Amy being possessed by a demon and then the girls doing an exorcism to save her, but then she dies and then… something else happens! (Laughs)
Both Amy and Raquel want to save Suzanne, and because the stakes are so high, there couldn’t be any petty jealousy in the kind of dynamic. It very quickly become life or death.
Raquel also quickly realises in Amy, how important Suzanne is to her and that’s sort of a way that they can connect as well. They recognise in each other what the other person cares about.
SW: Raquel isn’t selfish with Amy. She sees immediately that Suzanne means a lot to her and she knows that in order to be her friend she’s got to try and save this woman.
It’s as simple as that, I don’t think there’s anything sinister in the way that they operate.
The way the world is set up is really interesting. Usually the world where someone sees something others don’t is depicted as weird or wrong. With Crazyhead it’s almost the opposite that’s true.
CT: Yeah, this show is set in a world where the audience know immediately that demons are real. To get the audience into the story and along for the ride, you see a snippet of how it would be if someone did see things that no one else could see.
It then very quickly spins into you suddenly being along with them. Going from the outside to the inside is really cool.
SW: It’s just about how the world sees these two when they’re separated. For Raquel, her goal is to keep demon hunting. So she will do whatever she needs to do to the outside world to make sure people just leave her alone, so that she can go and do her thing.
So there is deception there, definitely. But they’re real. The demons are absolutely real. So I think very quickly we just get drawn into it.
CT: We only really see it from the point of view of these girls.
SW: At the moment… the world expands! Every episode it gets much bigger and you realise that there are other people involved. It isn’t just us two.
When the trailer was released, A LOT of comparisons were made with Buffy. How do you feel about those comparisons?
CT: Well everyone loves a comparison don’t they? Especially with a new show because you don’t know what it is. I’m sure, with it being genre, and two girls, and demons – there will be comparisons. And obviously Howard’s previous work.
But I personally feel that it is its own thing. It might have elements of all these different shows but they come together in a way that, certainly when I read it, I’d never seen before. So I feel very lucky to be a part of it all.
SW: I think it’s just what people latch on to when they want to understand a new show. They watch a trailer and they just want to understand it, so I’m like fair enough if you want to make that comparison.
But sit down and watch it and it will speak for itself. I don’t mind it though, like Buffy is the holy grail isn’t it?!
Crazyhead starts Wednesday 19th October at 9pm on E4