Towards the end of last year, I caught up with Kara Tointon to talk about working alongside her real-life sister I'm the new series of Mr Selfridge.
January just wouldn't be the same without a brand new series of ITV drama Mr Selfridge. And luckily 2015 is no different as the series returns for a third outing which picks up in 1919 just after the end of World War I. For those who haven't ever seen the series, it follows the fascinating rise and fall of Mr Selfridge, a colourful but troubled man who owns the London department store Selfridges.
As the story has moved on five years, the character of Rosalie Selfridge has been recast, and is now played by the lovely Kara Tointon (EastEnders) and Kara’s real-life sister, Hannah Tointon plays her rebellious on-screen sister, Violette. This is the first time the two sisters have acted alongside each other and
First of all, you're one of the newbies this year on Mr Selfridge. How have you been settling in and were you a fan of the show before joining?
Yeah, well it's quite nerve-wracking I guess entering a show that's already established, but I've done that quite a few times now! But this team of people have been wonderful to both Hannah (her sister) and I and we've felt very welcome. It's a great show to be a part of, I watched little bits of the first season and then the second season so when I got the part I went back and got the DVD boxset and watched both seasons back to back.
Did you have to do a lot of research around the real Rosalie Selfridge?
Absolutely. It's really interesting because being part of this massive family, you learn that they've come from rags to riches to rags. Obviously as children, the Selfridge kids were very lucky growing up, the world was their oyster, but what's fascinating is that they get to this peak and who would have guessed that this entrepreneur would fall so heavily? And I think that's what's really sad and interesting.
It's an incredible true story and I never really knew about Harry Selfridge until this show came on and now I've seen where he lived and his little plaque and I've done a lot of research. But actually towards the end of his time a lot of the history is lost so you kind of have to delve a bit deeper.
Of course we have to talk about the fact that you're working with your sister Hannah in Mr Selfridge, and you both play sisters. What has that been like?
We've crossed paths before in a show where we weren't playing sisters, but that was over ten years ago and it's really strange because we've kind of kept everything very separate because we're so close!
We have separate agents and we've taken our own paths, but we're always helping each other out. We were actually really against doing anything together, now it sounds a bit strange, but it's just good to keep things separate. But... because of this being what it is, I actually called her when I got the audition and said "You go for this one." and she was like "Don't be silly! I won't go for it!" (Laughs)
And then someone said to us, "Why wouldn't you go for it? You're not playing the same part, you're playing sisters." so we said OK, we'll go along and see what happens. They're both great parts, Hannah's playing this ver naughty rascal and Rosalie very much embodies her mother's softness and steps up to the mark when she has to. So they're great parts and now we're there we're actually loving it and I wouldn't change it for the world, that comfort in her being there. It's really nice.
And what about Jeremy Piven? What's he been like to work with?
Fantastic. Everyone actually, the whole bunch of them have been really really great. As I said, it can be scary entering a new show but he's been great and obviously a lot of our stuff is in the family with him and Zoe (Wanamaker) and Leon (Ockenden), so we're always together and it's fun. We laugh a lot... they're all crazy (laughs)!
You mentioned Leon Ockenden there who plays your husband, Serge, what can you tell us about his character and the relationship between him and Rosalie?
He's a Russian prince and he has this vision and dream to be a pilot and it's all about the planes for him. He wants to be a bit of an entrepreneur in his own right, but at the beginning we're not too sure about Serge.
Is he marrying into the Selfridge family because he loves Rosalie or is it because of the status that being in that family brings? We open the series nothing quite sure, but it's quite nice because it turns out that he is a nice guy.
So it's a bit turbulent at the beginning, they go through a few rocky stages and you think "Oh god, is it too much too soon?" Of course the one person she really could have used the advice of was her mother because of what she went through, but she isn't around, and that's really sad because that would have been a lovely relationship, and I love Frances (O'Connor) who played Rose so it's a shame that that happened in history! I would have loved to work with her.