Ex-soap star Jill Halfpenny on following in Emily Blunt’s footsteps

Ex-soap star Jill Halfpenny on following in Emily Blunt’s footsteps
(Image credit: S Meddle/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Former EastEnders and Coronation Street star has talked to Soaplife about her new role, that sees her taking on a character made famous by Emily Blunt.

Actress Jill Halfpenny has talked to Soaplife about her new project, The Girl On The Train, a stage version of the best selling novel, and the film starring Emily Blunt.

Jill Halfpenny talks to Soaplife about taking to the stage in a new version of The Girl On The Train

Soaplife: We hear you’re on stage in a world premiere, Jill!

Jill Halfpenny: “Yes, from May 12, I’m appearing in the world premiere of The Girl on the Train at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. It’s the very first stage production of Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel, which is also a film. I’m playing Rachel Weston, the disillusioned commuter, who finds herself a suspect in an extraordinary mystery.”

S: Were you already familiar with the story?

JH: “I hadn’t read the book or watched the film, but I’d heard a lot about the story. Reading the script, I loved how it felt like a psychological thriller on the surface, but with a really interesting portrait of a woman dealing with addiction, loss and pain underneath.”

S: How does the stage version differ from the book and film?

JH: “In our version, the whole story is told from Rachel’s point of view. We start at a point where she’s confused, scared and unable to piece together her own life, before then starting to join up the dots of the mystery.”

S: What attracted you to the role?

JH: “I love the complexity of Rachel’s character. She’s strived for the perfect life of house, husband, job and family. But, at the start of the play, she’s at rock bottom - divorced, being evicted from her flat, and struggling with alcohol addiction. She’s lost everything and she’s seemingly at her most vulnerable,. That’s when she starts to find out who she is. As the plot develops she takes control, realising she can live her life and be happy without having to live up to those ideals.”

S: It sounds like something we can all relate to!

JH: “We’re always trying to paint and present the perfect picture of ourselves through social media. I think audiences will really be able to relate to that side of Rachel’s character.”

S: You’ve had a varied career, from being Corrie and EastEnders to acting in stage classics. Do you prefer TV or theatre?

JH: “I don’t have a preference, I’ve always loved working on all different kinds of projects. If a script is brilliant and the story is captivating, I’m hooked in. This is the exact process I went through with The Girl on the Train. I found the story so compelling. Not only because of its pure thrill, but also the complexity of the characters, its occasional moments of humour, and its humanity and relatability. Audiences are really going to love it.”

For more details on The Girl on the Train, please visit wyp.org.uk

Rachel Lucas
Forward Planning Deputy Manager

Rachel is a soaps and TV writer for WhatToWatch.com, soaps podcaster and resident soap expert for UK TV listings magazines What's On TV and TV Times. After graduating with an art and design degree from Birmingham City University, she found her true calling in all things soap and has been writing about them for magazines and websites for over 20 years. A self-confessed soap addict, she's always had a great love of all the UK and Aussie soaps and owns everything from a Neighbours 1990 Annual to a DVD box set of classic Corrie episodes to prove it.