Interview : Keeley Hawes, The Missing

Interview : Keeley Hawes, The Missing

Photo : Keeley Hawes as Gemma Webster in The Missing | Credit : BBC/New Pictures/Robert Viglasky

The first series of The Missing was nominated for several Baftas and received two Golden Globes nominations. In series 2, Keeley Hawes character Gemma has dreamt of her daughter’s return for over a decade, but is torn when Alice’s return isn’t the joyous reunion she’d hoped for. Can she ever hope to understand what Alice has been through? The Missing explores how a family, and a community, copes with her return.

What made you want to sign up to The Missing?

I was sent the first six scripts and I sat down one evening and thought, oh I’ll take a look at the first one – and by the end of the evening I had read them all, like I was making my way through a box set. I just couldn’t stop. So I was very excited.

What is it about Harry and Jack’s writing that appeals to you?

I think Harry and Jack are extraordinary. The writing is just wonderful; my heart was racing. They’re incredibly clever because the stories are character-driven as well. It’s not just the twists and turns, they really care about these people. I love their work and I love speaking their dialogue, it’s terrific.

Where do we start with this series of The Missing?

The scene is set in Germany with a military family. And we find out Gemma and Sam had a daughter who went missing. They’ve had to move on partly because they have a son and partly because they just had to get on with their lives. Then they get the call to say their daughter might have been found. I’ve read about people who’ve experienced it and every day you must wake up and think ‘is today the day?’ And in our story, today’s the day. But it’s also a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’: after so much time, it’s not going to be the same.

How do things change?

The family dynamic has changed and it’s one of the saddest things. Of course it’s inevitable, but this family has already been torn apart once, and they get smashed apart again.

“I was sent the first six scripts and I sat down one evening and thought, oh I’ll take a look at the first one – and by the end of the evening I had read them all, like I was making my way through a box set.”

How does Gemma differ between the two timelines?

It’s like playing two different characters. Physically, we all look very different in the two different timelines. For the present day, my hair is mostly gone and there’s sort of dark circles and that sort of thing, but it’s more of a physical thing. I mean, she’s somebody who has been completely shattered, wounded by everything that life’s thrown at her… there’s a kind of physical paring down.

How has it been working with the other cast?

I worked with David Morrissey years and years ago. He’s obviously terrific and a wonderful actor. With Laura Fraser, I’m a bit of a fan and have a bit of a girl crush on her. I was beside myself when I knew that we’d be working together. Tchéky Karyo is a legend. He’s got so much charisma coming out of everywhere. He’s lovely to work with and very funny. Working with Abigail Hardingham is so easy, because she is just a huge talent. She has taken the whole thing in her stride. It’s not an easy part to play, but she’s just made it look like the easiest thing in the world. I’m very fond of Abigail.

What’s it been like filming in Brussels?

Brussels is beautiful. We’d been shooting a little while when the bombings happened. It was quite surreal and a very strange time to be here. Everybody was arriving at work when the news broke, and these are people whose families are living and working in the city. The atmosphere was one I hope to never have to go through again. By the time we went home that night, the city was back up and running, with the flag all in lights on the buildings. It was an extraordinary introduction to Brussels. And you did feel very close to the team very quickly.


An exclusive first look at The Missing Series 2 starring Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey

The Missing returns this Wednesday 11th October at 9pm on BBC1.

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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