Carol Royle is well known for acting on stage and on screen, she’s been in television shows such as Life Without George, Heartbeat and Doctors. At the moment she can be found portraying Huntington’s Disease sufferer, Emilie in BBC’s Casualty. As the estranged mother of Cal and Ethan she’s created quite a stir as fans of the series are so bowled over by her performance, they’re asking if she truly suffers from the condition. I caught up with Carol to ask her about this challenging role among other things.
Hi Carol, thank you for talking to Break A Leg Review, you’ve made a huge impact with your role as Emilie in Casualty, what level of research did you carry out in advance of filming the part and what was your initial reaction to taking on this challenge?
I was incredibly flattered to be offered the role, it’s quite a responsibility. I’m fond of research, and then I like to “jump off the diving board into the dark sea”. I used Google and Youtube to research, I came to know some of the people on Youtube and that was heart breaking. I had a meeting with the BBC ‘gang’ to Skype a Huntington’s advisor in Liverpool to find a level as everyone with the condition is different. We went to a Care Home and met with a Nurse, Michael Wooldridge who introduced us to people who suffer with Huntington’s. While on set at the BBC there was a Huntington’s Advisor present who helped with movement, for example a through movement.
Does portraying the character of Emilie affect you after filming is finished?
Yes, I find it exhausting, I understand how people with Huntington’s need 6000 calories a day. Playing the part is like patting head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. I don’t do method acting, however I drenched myself in this, prior to filming as well as during. I find I have to consciously stop myself from doing the movements of the character.
What has your overall experience of Casualty been like?
I’ve done a couple of other episodes over the past 30 years and yes, it’s a show I’d like to work on permanently as they are such lovely people to work with. It has been such a good experience and I miss my boys (George Rainsford and Richard Winsor). The storyline has struck a chord because of the people I’ve met and how involved I was with the research. I feel it was an important and enlightening part.
You’ve enjoyed a long and varied career, do you have a preference between acting on stage and acting on screen?
They’re different, what they both have in common is the truth and integrity. I love both, I love theatre due to the live element and I love television due to the smallness and the subtlety.
In 2014 you were cast as Linda in the tour of Last of the Duty Free, what was it like to step into Joanna Van Gyseghem’s shoes as the only replacement member of the original foursome?
I went into it very naively, but once rehearsals started I sensed fear from those around me as I wasn’t ‘their Joanna’. However, soon I became ‘their Carol’. It was a shame the tour was cancelled, but I made great friends who I keep in touch with.
In your career so far, who have you most enjoyed working with and why?
That’s difficult because in everything I do, I make friends, apart from in one or two jobs. I worked with Dennis Potter on Black Eyes, he wrote, directed and edited it, and it was a fantastic experience. Having the Writer and Director as the same person was good. The working process was one of the best.
When you first started acting, what ambitions did you have and do you feel you’ve achieved them?
I wanted to have a go at everything and I’ve managed to do a lot of theatre and telly. I’ve also managed to keep working while raising two children. I may have compromised my working life as I wouldn’t go away from home for a job, but staying at home was important to me. I haven’t done any films and I fear it’s too late. My ambition now is to keep working and to play interesting roles.
Have you any advice for individuals wishing to go into an acting career?
If you’ve got to do it, you’ll do it and nobody will talk you out of it. It would be wise to go to drama school and also remember to keep strong in the face of adversity. If you get rebuffed, retain your confidence, don’t allow anyone to put you down, retain your self-esteem.
Favourite things (give me your first reaction to these questions):
Favourite way to relax?
Watching a film with my daughter.
Theatre Royal, Bath.
Old film – Bringing Up Baby.
Modern Film – The Matrix.
Spaghetti bolognaise made with beans and lentils (I’m a vegetarian) and gluten free pasta.
Reading, interior design is a close second!