Exclusive Interview: Catrin Stewart
We are delighted to bring you our exclusive interview with Catrin Stewart!
Catrin was seen in the mid-series finale, A Good Man Goes to War, as Jenny, and, although she’s only appeared in one episode, her character, and her relationship with Madame Vastra, have proved to be extremely popular with viewers, so much so that Steven Moffat has said he “might revisit” them! In our interview, Catrin talks about the possibility of returning, her memories of her time on set and more!
You can read our full Q&A below. A huge thanks to Catrin for answering our questions!
Q) When did you first become interested in acting?
A) I first realised that I loved performing from a very young age. In Wales, there’s a tradition called ‘The Eisteddfod’. It’ a big deal in Wales, where schools from all over the country get together once a year for a big festival and compete against each other in singing and reciting competitions. So from a young age I was encouraged to be on stage, and loved it. I attended lots of drama groups, one of which was for television acting. I suppose I started taking it more seriously at about 16 when I joined the National Youth Theatre of Wales. I realised I wanted to be a professional actor and wanted more training, so I applied for drama schools when I was 19 and got a place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Q) What advice would you give to anyone interested in going into acting as a profession?
A) I would say that it’s a tough profession, full of ups and downs. You may not always be working and you have to know that you’re the kind of person that can deal with that, not always having structure, dealing with rejection and not taking it personally. If you’re really passionate about it and can’t imagine doing anything else, then you should go for it. Join drama groups, watch films and good quality television, go to the theatre, read a lot, notice everything that’s going on around you, speak to other actors about their experience, and don’t give up! I learnt so much at drama school in the 3 years and my confidence grew. You have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it.
Q) How did your role in Doctor Who come about?
A) Andy Pryor, the casting director of Doctor Who, saw me at my 3rd year showcase in London and contacted my agent to see if I was free to audition. I only got given 2 small scenes to prepare for Jenny, so did as much work as I could beforehand and tried to make some interesting choices. I really enjoyed the audition with Andy and Peter, the director, and felt it went well, but you just never know. I got a phone call about 4 days later saying I’d got the part. I was very happy!
Q) Were you a fan of the series before you got the role?
A) I hadn’t watched much Doctor Who before getting the part, but I watched quite a few episodes before working on it, just to get a feel of the style of it and the story lines. I really enjoyed the Christmas special and it got me excited about working on it in the January.
Q) What was it like working with Matt Smith and the other cast members?
A) The cast were very lovely, very welcoming and chatty. I was quite nervous on the first day as we were filming quite an epic scene with lots going on, but they made me feel really at ease and it was really fun. I loved being in costume, and on the amazing set. It just added to the feel and atmosphere of the whole thing.
Q) Did you watch your episode as it was transmitted?
A) I wasn’t at home the night it was on so didn’t get to watch it straight away. I got home about 11pm and watched it on iPlayer with my friend. It was weird getting texts and phone calls from people who had already watched it before I had!
Q) Jenny was introduced alongside her companion, Madame Vastra, played by Neve McIntosh. Did you enjoy working with her?
A) Coincidentally, I had already worked with Neve a few months earlier. She played my step mum in a play up in Manchester. I bumped into her at my costume fitting for Doctor Who and was so surprised and happy that we were going to be working together again and that our characters this time had a totally different relationship. We kept in touch before filming and discussed our characters and relationship. We already had a friendship in real life which I think helped our on screen relationship. I loved working with her again.
Q) Did Steven Moffat give you any of Jenny and Vastra’s back story to help you develop your characters, or did you maybe come up with your own history for them?
A) We didn’t get much back story from Steven Moffat. It was up to us as actors to create our own, which is always really fun. Like I said, Neve and I had quite a few chats about our history, how we met, what our relationship was like behind closed doors. The script told you a lot about their relationship already, Jenny’s jealousy of Madame Vastra looking at other women, how Madame Vastra had taught Jenny to fight with swords, Vastra’s history with the Doctor. We just created more back stories to help us as actors to have more fully rounded characters and to know where we were coming from.
Q) Jenny and Vastra have proved to be extremely popular with fans. Were you surprised by the response they had?
A) I was quite surprised with the response. I don’t think I’d realised how big a following Doctor Who has and very loyal fans. They seemed really excited by Vastra and Jenny’s story which was great. I don’t know whether it was the Victorian element, or the fact that we were two crime fighting, kick ass women (well, one human!). Maybe it was the human and lizard thing… But it was very nice to get a positive response.
Q) Steven Moffat has said that he would love to revisit Jenny and Vastra in the future. Would you be interested in returning if the opportunity arises?
A) Definitely. I think he could write some really exciting story lines for them.
Q) Finally, do you have any particular favourite moments or memories from your time filming Doctor Who?
A) I loved the whole experience. As an actor you relish in using your imagination, pretending and playing, and I got to do all of that on this job. I especially liked the sword fighting sequences, because it’s not very often you get to fight headless monks! I also loved all the action, doors locking, a big blue man running away, imagining headless monks coming towards you, a TARDIS appearing in your living room. It’s nothing like real life which is always fun!