AfterEllen.com: Can you talk a little bit about the casting process and why you chose Lily for the of Fox. There were 24 actress up for the role. How did you narrow it down?
Anettea Jones: The casting process was incredibly important for me as Fox is essentially SEVEN PM — as the film is about her life. She is a very complex character; I wanted her to seem at once both bolshy and weak. In the auditions, I was looking for the full emotional range of Fox’s personality — bravado, vulnerability, defensiveness, bitchiness but at the same time someone who the audience could like, empathise with and be on her side.
This is quite a delicate balance to strike! Also there is very little dialogue in the short and so it was very important that the actress could display these emotions in her body language and facial expressions alone. Many of the girls whom I auditioned were very talented and I was impressed during the casting how many of them expressed that they felt a connection with the character
I had narrowed the actresses down to a top three but I was still unconvinced that I had found my Fox. That’s when I received a personal email from Lily herself who had read the script that I had sent to her agent. She was very keen in playing the character and so I called her in for a reading and she was absolutely perfect. I was unbelievably impressed and absolutely delighted — and so Lily became my Fox.
AE: Were you familiar with Skins at the time? You filmed between series three and four of Skins, when the whole Naomily thing was ramping up to global domination; were you aware of it?
AJ: I had of course heard of Skins before casting Lily; however, I hadn’t seen beyond the second series and so I didn’t know Lily’s acting yet. So before Lily came in I watched a few episodes and I saw her unique way of really connecting with the audience and how she is able to strike the balance between outspoken and vulnerable. I had no idea, however, when we shot the film that her popularity would soar to such an extent with the Naomily phenomenon. I am unsurprised, though, and she deserves it because she is a powerful young actress.
AE: Skins co-creator Jamie Brittain and I spoke not long ago about The Lily Loveless Tear Effect. We agreed that she is so soulful on screen that when she cries, everyone watching turns into a blubbering mess. Judging from the stills and what you’ve told me about the film, Lily looks pretty wrecked in Seven PM — so I can only assume you meant to break the hearts of every lesbian in the world world? True or false? And if true: Why, Anetta? Why?!
AJ: Ha ha ha! It is all Lily’s fault! She is too convincing! She inflicted her mystical Tear Effect on me too! I remember when we were filming one scene where Fox is crying on the side of the road and we had to keep re-shooting it because we were getting too much noise pollution. Despite the emotional intensity the scene required, Lily required very little direction and was able to seamlessly repeat the scene despite how exhausting it must have been for her. And whenever I shouted "CUT" I would always rush over to her and worriedly ask her if she was ok because she was acting so convincingly cut up and upset.
It really impacted on the whole crew who began talking in very gentle tones to each other and looking quite down! But Lily’s fans can rest assured that most of this scene was edited out to keep the short film punchy. And also no matter how much the makeup artist smudged Lily’s eyeliner or hairsprayed her hair into a matted mess, Lily always somehow managed to look like a beautiful wreck! She makes a hot mess!