DC: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting started as an actor?
LL: Well, with the Skins role, I auditioned for an agency and they took me on and they put me up for the Skins audition. I went in there thinking "I’m not going to get this, but I’ll try." I got it and then it dawned on me that I actually had to do acting in front of other people and that people are going to watch it. I think the hardest thing was acting in front of people that you don’t know. It’s really awkward and embarrassing at first because it’s not a very natural thing to do. I felt like everyone else had done it before.
I mean, they hadn’t, but to me it felt like everyone had done it before and everyone else was friends and I didn’t know what I was doing. But I just had to grin and bear it, really. I didn’t really enjoy it that first month because it was so scary and I didn’t have time to think about how lucky I was because I was just terrified. They cut all my hair off and bleached it, and then they said "stand in front of that camera and do acting," and I was like, "Oh my God!" It was really lonely at first. That was hard because I didn’t know anyone, I was just on my own in Bristol doing this weird thing and it was just really odd and surreal.
DC: What attracted you to Naomi’s character?
LL: I really liked her. I felt like a lot of the other characters were characters I’d just seen before but Naomi was a real character; she had her traits and she had her flaws, she was a character. We only got the first script and it changed so much before we actually filmed it, we actually filmed a completely different story to the one I read in the audition.
DC: Based on what you knew of the character at that time, what did you want to bring out in the audition?
LL: I saw a very clear picture of what I thought she should be like. I thought she should be short, which I’m not, have a massive rucksack, which she didn’t, wear glasses and be just sort of [mimes an aggressive, sour look]. I tried to play it like that. I used to be really short and I suddenly had a growth spurt in about a year. And I’ve been told before that I have a short person syndrome where I sort of have that fieriness of a short person.
So I just tried to play that up and make her one of those people that—you don’t see people like her anymore, people who actually believe they need to have a good education and its really important. People at her age, you don’t really see that. And I thought, ‘that’s not me, they’re going to find someone who’s—there’s got to be someone who’s more like her than me.’ I didn’t think she was me at all, but they did, which was lucky.
DC: What did you see as the essence of Naomi’s personality?
LL: That she’s very tough — I say "tough" but it’s a bit of a crap word. She’s very hard, she’s one of those people that always has a frown on her face and would sort of scare a group of boys with just a look. I think she also kind of thinks she’s above everyone else without thinking it at the same time. She looks at Cook and she’s just like, ‘whatever.’ She thinks she’s on another level to the rest of the people around her because she’s intelligent or because she has a higher expectation of life than the rest of the characters.
DC: She’s got a massive case of intellectual snobbery, then?
LL: Yes, definitely, which is so not me but I quite like that about her. It’s very fun to play.
DC: Did you figure out everything about Naomi from the beginning or were you continually discovering things as you went along in the role?
LL: I think the most important thing is that she’s not a character in a box, like you can’t say she’s this type of person, she wouldn’t do this and she wouldn’t do that. To me, she’s a very real person who might be politically minded but she doesn’t think twice about shagging someone. She doesn’t give a shit about what people think. She’s not in a box and she’s not a political lesbian—she’s that type of person, but she’s lots of other things too.
I think it would surprise people because she wouldn’t necessarily say no to eating a hamburger whereas most people would think, "But you’re that type of person, you have to do that." I think that’s the most important thing about her. If we’re reading a script and someone says, "Oh, she wouldn’t do that," I’d say "Why not? Yes, she would do that, she’d definitely do that!" It’s very easy to look at a character in a box, you put people in boxes, that’s just what we do and I think it’s very important that she’s not in a box and that she’s a real person who would do things that wouldn’t necessary be what you’d think she’d do. I’ve always thought that from the beginning