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Hannah Murray On … Graduating from Skins

Actress Hannah Murray, best known for playing troubled teen Cassie on E4’s award-winning cult drama Skins, makes her professional stage debut in the West End transfer of 21-year-old Polly Stenham’s playwriting debut That Face. The premiere production, first seen last April at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, is now running for a limited season at the Duke of York’s Theatre, where newcomer Murray joins original cast members including Matt Smith and Lindsay Duncan and, who play her brother and alcoholic mother in a dysfunctional upper-middle class family.

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This is my stage debut so I feel really scared because, physically, it’s much more demanding than television work and you need a different skill. I’m worried about whether I’m up to the task. Also, I’m the only new cast member. The fact that everyone else has done it before is a bit scary as well. I have this idea that I’m the only thing that’s changed since it did so well at the Royal Court. But everyone has been lovely. Obviously, the space is very different at the Duke of York’s so I think they’ve all wanted to rediscover the play rather than just recreate it - so I haven’t felt like the new girl.

I didn’t see That Face when it was at the Royal Court, but I wanted to because I had worked with Matt Smith before. He told me he was doing a play, but I was doing my A-levels at the time so I couldn’t find the time to get to London to watch it. In the end I think that’s a good thing. I’m quite glad I haven’t seen someone else playing the role. I had read it though. I enjoyed entering the weird little world of this horrible upper-middle class family. I just think it’s a really exciting play – funny and dark, intense and horrific – and it sucks you in.

Skins came about at a time when I was doing my last years at school so in a way it felt like another version of sixth form. I was in my second year of A-levels while I was filming series one. It was like another last stage before you go off into the big adult world. I met a massive number of people who are really important to me now and I learnt so much. I’m definitely a lot more independent having done it.

I accepted the role of Mia in That Face because of the play itself rather than the fact that it was on stage, but I think it’s important to challenge yourself, in life as well as in your career, so doing something that was unfamiliar to me seemed like a good thing. Mia and Cassie (from Skins) are very different people. There are parallels you can draw between the fact that they’re both girls who have sort of grown up without their parents actually parenting them, but I want to play Mia as Mia, I don’t want to relate her to the performance I did as Cassie. It’s quite an amazing journey that you take with these characters as their world crumbles.

- Hannah Murray was speaking to Kate Jackson

That Face is at the Duke of York’s until 5 July 2008.


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