AMC: What about the preparation for intimate scenes, like the lakeside and the cadet closet, where the challenge lies in putting yourself in the state of mind of being in love with another character?
KP: Yeah it’s quite, well, Lily’s going to think I’m weird now if I said ‘Oh, it’s fine, I didn’t mind at all.’ Because I knew Lily from before and I do like Lily in real life it wasn’t, like, a huge struggle; I wasn’t uncomfortable with it. I could imagine someone being in love with her and just think of why, and then portray that as best as I could and just kind of forgetthere was a camera poking in your face.
AMC: Did it surprise you that so many of the people who interviewed you made such a big deal about that as something quite weird?
KP: Yeah!I mean I understand when they ask was it weird doing the rolling around, taking off your clothes stuff for the camera because that would be weird either way. But when people go, ‘So what was it like kissing a girl?’, it doesn’t make me angry but me like, why would it be weird, I don’t get that all. I just don’t understand that.
AMC: What do you think it says about society when that’s the key feature of practically every interview?
KP: Yeah,it’s like the first thing: "How did it feel?’ Like, girls are not aliens! It was absolutely fine. The only thing I didn’t like was I didn’t want it ever to come across like it was a lesbian fantasy scene and that’s the only time I ever got uncomfortable was when I felt like it was becoming something to draw people in to watch because it’s two young girls rolling around naked. But the actual bits where it was like two girls being in love that was fine because that’s just—I was really lucky to get that part—because that’s something really interesting and something that’s not been done too often on tv.
AMC: Lily mentioned that in the cadet closet scene, Philippa Langdale directed youto remove each other’s bras but neither of you wanted to do it.
KP: Wewere in the middle of the scene! Philippa just goes, ‘okay, you just doyour thing and if I think we need something else on the camera I’ll just say, roll over or something. We thought she actually meant she was just going to move us or whatever. We were kissing and she was like ‘Okay now, Lily, take off Kathryn’s top’. Okay fine, we’ve done this before, I don’t want to be prude, like, whatever. And so I did it, and then she’s like, ‘Now, take Lily’s top off’. Okay, fine. And then she said, ‘Now, Lily, undo Kathryn’s bra’, and Lily looked at me and I was like, ‘No!’. So we just didn’t do it and then Philippa’s like, ‘Okay, then, Kathryn undo Lily’s bra’, and I was like, ‘What!?’ and Lily’s like, ‘No, no, don’t!’—all on camera! So yeah, that is one step, I don’tknow.
AMC: Did you see that bit of nudity as unnecessary?
KP: Idon’t know, I would hate—I don’t want to get in trouble for saying that, like…I think their storyline is really good and I think that the way they’ve shown it is different from other lesbian storylines of younggirls that I’ve seen because it shows their relationship. Their relationship starts off being about them being confused and maybe being lesbian, maybe not, not really knowing, and all the confusion and then it just shuts up about that bit. And it’s like, okay whatever, they might be two girls but they’re just two people having a relationship andit’s about their relationship, not about that [lesbian sex].
I would hate for it to have become—I don’t think it did—if there was too much sex and you saw boobs and taking off bras, that stuff, I thought it would become just like, ‘Oh, there you go!’ Of course, I would hate for the fact that there was too explicit sexual scenes with girls to overshadow the fact that the storyline was about love and not about sex between—I think the story was written so well and it came across on camera well. I think if there had been any boob, it would have become something different.
AMC: At the same time, there’s the argument that, since we’ve had decades of increasingly graphic heterosexual sex in film and television, being more explicit with two women can send a very powerful message that it’s not taboo or abnormal.
KP: Yeah, definitely, I think that’s true, maybe with slightly older actors.
AMC: It’s really an age issue here, isn’t it?
KP: Yeah,that’s the only thing because a lot of us look younger than 18. It kindof, it would visually look a bit wrong if it was too explicit. But thenI think the same thing about heterosexual sex scenes in Skins.
AMC: Ininterviews, you’ve talked about the awkwardness of filming the lakesidescene in 306, but my question is how you managed to concentrate on anything and produce such a magical moment on a cold, wintery evening just hours after you’d gone into hypothermic shock from jumping in the lake?
KP: Well, it was a long time after we went in the lake. I jumped in and went into shock, and it was literally the scariest thing ever. They told me afterwards my heartbeat had gone to dangerously low. The had to put me and Lily—they drove us to a hotel room; we were in a bed together for body heat and one of the paramedics standing there feeding us biscuits and blowing a hairdryer under the sheets. It was so funny! Then I had to have a warm shower for about an hour, I was crying in the shower and couldn’t breathe.
It was a long time after that. The costume department were feeding us biscuits. I think they wanted us to go back in the lake and Ed[ward K. Gibbon], the costume designer was like, ‘No you’re not putting them back in, no, no, no!’ There was a whole other scene in that lake that was supposed to happen and they justdidn’t because they couldn’t. That gave me some kind of calm afterwards, when I calmed down after all of that and like eating a shitload of biscuits, me and Lily were just like, it’s nice to be wearing some clothes, sitting on a rock. That was actually alright.
It kind of gave me some measure of—kind of centred. Just knowing I didn’t have to jump into a lake in my knickers was calming. And I knew that wasthe last scene we were doing. There were like forty men standing aroundwatching us, so I just had to look down and like, you know, but it was cool.