Award winning theatre actor, Denise Gough, stars as Connie Mortensen, a mother who claims she cannot remember the details of a heinous crime, in ITV's gripping new three-part psychological thriller, Too Close.
Denise, who has enjoyed a stellar career in theatre and will star in the new Star Wars film, plays manipulative and deeply disturbed prison patient, Connie, who is kept in a secure psychiatric hospital as she awaits a possible trial.
Emily Watson, (Chernobyl, Apple Tree Yard), stars as forensic psychiatrist, Dr Emma Robertson, who is assigned Connie’s case and must unpick her story to find out the truth of what happened.
However, doctor Emma has her own secrets and soon finds herself beginning to unravel as Connie brutally exploits her weaknesses.
We spoke to Denise Gough about her gripping role, challenging stunt-scenes and why her tears of pain were real...
Tell us about your character and what drew you to the role of Connie?
Denise Gough: "What drew me was first of all was working with Emily Watson! That was a very big deal. I remember watching her in the film Hilary and Jackie when I was at drama school and just thinking, 'Wow.'
"Also, Connie is such an interesting character. You’re not sure of her at all and it’s great to play someone who’s so unsympathetic. If I had my way, women would play villains all the time. Let us have the fun, let us be the Hannibal Lecters! Women can be horrendous too and we have to be allowed to tell these stories. I wouldn't want to spend my life playing heroic women, that would be tedious."
Connie’s appearance is shocking when we first meet her. Did you have to spend a lot of time in make-up?
"Oh God yes. It took three and a half hours every day and I had to have special contact lenses to make my eyes look bloodshot. I spent the time listening to podcasts, true crime, lots of murder, lots of death and I’m also learning Greek for a film I made called Monday, so I was learning a bit of Greek too. It was a long time sitting in that make-up chair and I have a new respect for anyone playing a role that involves prosthetics now!"
What research did you do for your role in Too Close?
"I did a lot of reading up and research into psychosis and amnesia. It was fascinating to find out what can happen in a person’s mind to protect them from trauma. There are important themes of mental health running through Too Close so I did a lot of research on that."
The psychiatric unit scenes were filmed at the former women’s prison, HMP Holloway. What was that like?
"It’s pretty grim and god knows what goes on there at night but it was great for filming. I brought in a lot of sage and palo santo sticks and burned it. It’s supposed to clear the energy and I believe in all that stuff. It certainly didn’t do any harm except for when they were worried I was going to set off all the fire alarms!"
There are some very dramatic and sometimes dangerous scenes involving Connie. Did you have to do a lot of stunts?
"I did a lot of climbing up trees and being hooked to ropes but I had this amazing stunt woman, Belinda, who’s known in the stunt world for jumping into freezing cold water, so she was really excited to do that. I did get to sit in the Isle of Sheppey in torrential rain, in the freezing cold, in my pants, crying. When you see those tears on screen, they’re real, they are tears of sheer pain!"
You’ve played very intense roles in your acting career, would you ever like to do something lighter, like comedy?
"Nobody gives me any comedy to do! I think people see me and go, ‘Yeah she looks like she could cry a lot.’ I love shows like Parks and Recreation with Tina Fey and 30 Rock. Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock is one of greatest comic performances I’ve seen in my entire life. To play a part like that would be brilliant."
Too Close begins on ITV on Monday 12 April at 9pm
Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.
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