Q - You have been playing Madeline Chambers for 3 years now and now are a very significant character in a major story arc within the series. Did you ever envision you would be still be doing this when you made your first appearance?
A - I honestly never thought that I would have the opportunity to be part of the series in such a big way. When I first applied for the role of Madeline, she was only meant to be a bit-part villain in one episode. I also found out when I turned up on set that Ross had originally written the part for a male but changed the role into a female character when no one right applied for the part… Needless to say I sadly thought that would be my only appearance on the show, especially since Madeline is jailed at the end of the episode! However, when Ross advertised a spot for a comeback villain, I jumped at the chance to return to the show.
Q - Why did you want to be an actress?
A - When I was very young I talked with a slight lisp, so my Dad enrolled me in elocution lessons to try and get rid of it. After progressing and being entered into speech and drama festivals reading poetry and prose, my tutor offered me a script – and that’s how it started. I was shown other worlds through these scripts, books and poetry. Ever since childhood, reality has seemed fairly mundane. However, the fantasy worlds in film, theatre and books appealed to me and I wanted so badly to be part of them; acting – believing you really are another person with another life – was my gateway to being so. As I grew older and continued with acting, I found I could provoke certain emotions from audience members and this became a very special experience for me; not only could I completely immerse myself in a whole other world as a completely different person – but I could make those watching feel what I as that character felt. Being able to explore a whole different life while take an entire audience on that same journey is indescribable.
Q - Through being in NPLH and playing Madeline what do you feel you have learnt about yourself or as an actress?
A - This will probably sound rather silly as comedy largely makes up Madeline’s role – but I never realised I could be a remotely comic actor until I picked up the very first script I was given for her. Up until then, I had only landed serious roles – and that was in theatre! No Place Like Holmes was also my first real opportunity to act on screen and honestly, I didn’t really think I’d be much cop at it. I was pretty sure that after spending a whole day trying to bash a credible performance out of me, Ross would never want to work with me again – luckily, things didn’t go quite that badly and three years down the line I’m still here! I also learnt that playing a villain can be incredibly cathartic – and that we all have a little bit of evil lurking in us somewhere... Well how else can an actor make you believe their character is bad to the bones?
Q - You uniquely hold two major roles respectively in both No Place Like Holmes and the spin off The Mary Morstan Mysteries but as different characters within the same family lineage. Is it difficult to swap between the characters and change mind sets?
A - Madeline and Gwendolyn have a couple of major differences for me; the first being that Madeline is a comedic role whereas Gwendolyn is primarily a more dramatic role. Gwendolyn is also in the ‘underdog’ position; while Madeline is in charge (or at least thinks she’s in charge) of The Red-Headed League, there is no pretence over who is the leader when it comes to Gwendolyn and Moriarty. However there are striking similarities between the two; a deep-rooted hatred for authority, a penchant for wealth and fine jewellery, and a total lack of empathy for those around them – to name but a few. I wouldn’t really say I find it difficult to switch between the two as they are both completely different people in my head – they have different back-stories, different lives, and lived in totally different worlds. The only real constant in both worlds is the presence of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, which I believe to be a huge catalyst for such parallel behaviour.
Q - Who have you enjoyed working with the most on the show?
A - I’ve worked with so many amazing people it’s so difficult to pick just one! One of the many wonderful things about working on No Place Like Holmes is the people; I can honestly say there has not been one person who I didn’t get on with or enjoy working with in my three years there. Among the fabulous people I’ve worked with so far, my favourites have to include Ross (for obvious reasons – plus he makes the best cup of tea) though I have not been on screen with him for a while, aside from the core casts of both shows (because I couldn’t possibly devote enough time to each of them to describe how brilliant they are) – I’d say my absolute favourite is one of the newer additions to the cast – Angela Holmes. One of the very few actors who actually turns up when she learns she has scenes with me (yes this has happened on numerous occasions). Not only that, but when an actor failed to turn up for two episodes with the pair of us, she was the easiest person to work my way around the script with and we had a right laugh doing it.
Q - How about your favourite Episode to date to have worked on?
A - With each episode I film, I enjoy the experience on No Place Like Holmes even more! If I had to choose, my favourite from The Mary Morstan Mysteries would have to be the second episode ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ – I was able to explore and play with the comedy elements more in-depth than in the first episode, and was able to give them a totally different tone and manner from when I play Madeline. Then of course there’s the dramatic final scene where I was actually allowed to play with a gun… Alright not a real one, but speaking as an actress who was always told that weapons are for boys only, it was very exciting!
My favourite episode from No Place Like Holmes is probably ‘Dawn of the Red’ – I was able to use my serious lack of talent in producing a French accent to my advantage and really got to play with Madeline’s inherent idiocy.
Q - Lastly, any last words for the fans for what to expect in the 4th Series?
A - I wouldn’t want to give any proper spoilers… so all I can say is there are definitely a few surprises coming your way! Madeline and Rebecca might actually make progress through their schemes to find out Holmes and Watson’s identities, you may see some very nice berets, and if you watch closely you could even learn yet another use for onions outside the kitchen… But of course you’ll have to tune in and watch the episodes to know if I’m giving helpful hints or talking complete nonsense!
- Thank you Kelsey for some very informative and interesting answers!
Which Cast member would you like to see do an interview next? Perhaps you might even want to suggest a question for them, let me know via the contact form if so.
You can see Kelsey and the others in the latest NPLH Episode "Dawn Of The Red" which starts later this evening running in 4 parts up to September 14th.