Vicky McClure on her big new drama, which is on this week...
Vicky McClure’s career is a long list of must-see films and TV series, from her 1999 debut in Shane Meadow’s A Room for Romeo Brass, aged just 15, to This Is England and Line of Duty. Now Vicky’s taking on another challenging role in C4’s I Am Nicola, the first of a trilogy of stand-alone dramas by BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage.
This week, the 36-year-old actor teams up with BAFTA-winning director Dominic for a gritty new project, I Am Nicola, which they created together.
Vicky stars as unhappy hairdresser Nicola who is locked into a toxic relationship with controlling partner Adam (played by Vicky’s long-time friend Perry Fitzpatrick).
It’s the first part of a trilogy of stand-alone C4 dramas that also includes Samantha Morton in I Am Kirsty, about a single-mother battling poverty, and I Am Hannah starring Gemma Chan as a woman feeling immense pressure to start a family.
We met up with Vicky McClure to learn more about I Am Nicola…
How would you describe I Am Nicola?
Vicky McClure: “I play a woman called Nicola who’s in a relationship with her partner, Adam. He wants control over Nicola and their surroundings – and even control over her appearance. It’s a suffocating environment. The drama is about not being able to be yourself in a relationship – trying to make it work but knowing in your gut something’s not right.”
What appealed to you about telling Nicola’s story?
VM: “You could think this story may come across as mundane because nobody’s having an affair. There’s no violence or big scenarios. I Am Nicola is predominately about two people struggling with jealously, trust and their own personal issues. It’s all the little things that cut deep. I hope someone in a relationship like this might watch the drama and feel a little stronger to get up and go; to save themselves and each other.”
Will we care for both characters?
VM: “I think there’s sympathy for both. It’s clear that Nicola feels trapped and Adam’s controlling. Yet I also feel for Adam because he’s troubled – something is making him act that way. I want Adam to sort himself out as much as I want Nicola to get what she wants.”
How personal is this story?
VM: “It’s not by any means a carbon copy of an experience I’ve had. But it’s moments I’ve experienced in past relationships, and moments I’ve seen friends go through. You hear and read stories, and this is an amalgamation of a relationship that’s not working.”
For each film, Dominic worked with the leading actor using lots of improvisation to create a one-off character study. How did you find this?
VM: “Dominic and I wrote about 15 drafts before it was ready to shoot! We filmed it over 10 days and every day created moments we didn’t know existed until we were in the moment. I like this way of working. You’re reacting rather than acting. Adam needed to be played by someone I trusted, and Perry’s an old friend. We met at The Television Workshop in Nottingham when we were 11. He can improvise better than anyone, so it was perfect!”
What’s next for you?
VM: “I’m working on a TV version of the Alex Rider books at the minute. The majority of my work is dark, so it’s nice that my nephews will be able to watch it!”
I Am Nicola is on C4 on Tuesday 23rd July at 10.00pm.