Emma Samms: Back in front of the camera
PUBLISHED: 10:33 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 08 May 2018
‘Tomorrow I’m filming a bed scene. I wonder if I can get away with a winter coat under the covers.’
Last week I started work on a BBC drama. I’m not allowed to tell you which one, as the BBC Publicity Department hasn’t given me their blessing to go public as yet. It’s by no means the biggest casting news in history and it’s not going to make the front page of any publications but one has to stick by the rules and respect a press embargo if there is one.
I can tell you this though: It’s bloody hard work! Lots of pre-dawn starts to 14 hour days which is, frankly, a bit of a shock to the system. And filming scenes outdoors in freezing temperatures, wearing lightweight spring clothing when everyone behind the camera is in thick winter coats isn’t exactly fun. But it’s not so much the physical demands, it’s more the mental workout of memorizing up to 20 pages of dialogue a day that I’ve found the most challenging.
I used to be really good at learning lines. In my twenties, when I was working on General Hospital in America, I averaged 30 pages a day and I prided myself on the fact that if it was less than 10 pages, I’d learn them whilst I was having my hair done that morning. But memory skills are like a muscle that loses strength if not regularly exercised and the last week has been an intensive boot camp for my poor old brain.
The programme that I’m working on isn’t live television, (now that would be terrifying!) so mistakes are tolerated, but not too many. Time is money on a film set and anything that slows down production is a problem. Of course as soon as you make a mistake and they have to start the scene over again, you start to feel the pressure, and trust me, if there’s anything that’s going to make you flub a line, it’s feeling pressured to get it right.
Luckily, the people that I’m working with are delightful. They are all extremely professional and good at their jobs and are also really kind and friendly. I’ve worked with both those options before but you don’t always get both at the same time, so this job is, thus far, proving to be a joy. The biggest joy is the gorgeous actress that I’ve been working with the most. I can’t tell you her name or a quick google would give the game away, but her kindness, her wonderful sense of humour and her skill as an actress have made all the difference. It’s almost impossible to give a good performance if the person you’re acting with isn’t very good. I’d say the best acting I ever did was when I auditioned with the actor Christopher Walken. He was so talented that I couldn’t help but up my game. Saying that, I didn’t get the part, so I guess I didn’t up it quite enough.
One thing I’m not enjoying about being back in front of a camera is the need to look good all day. If you read my columns regularly you’ll probably have picked up on the fact that I have little patience for all things glamorous. Put me in flat shoes, a comfy fleece, tie my hair back in a ponytail and I’m happy. All those years on Dynasty when your hair, makeup and clothes had to look perfect even when your character woke up in the morning, have had a knock on effect. On-set maintenance of such requirements is the responsibility of a hard-working team who constantly have to powder, tweak, comb and fiddle with one’s person throughout the day. Bless them, because they are all incredibly nice and I desperately need their help, but the temptation to swat them away builds as the day goes on, especially when I’m struggling to get the dialogue in a scene out of my mouth correctly. Even when I’m not on the set, a certain amount of caution is required as every cup of tea is a potential stain down the front of my outfit and every power nap is a potentially creased dress or even worse, face.
Tomorrow I’ll be filming a bed scene. This does not fill me with glee, no matter how much I adore the actor that I’ll be in bed with. Luckily there is only implied nudity required (I wouldn’t have taken the job if it were anything else!) which means that as long as my arms and shoulders are bare I can wear as much as I like under the covers. I wonder if I can get away with a winter coat?
I’ll let you know how it goes...