Interview with Louise Brealey Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Interview with Louise Brealey * 01 August 2014


Delicious, a dark comedy drama starring Louise Brealey, Nico Rogner and Sheila Hancock, directed by Tammy-Riley Smith and produced by Michael Price, is out now on DVD and digital download services. We were invited to interview Louise Brealey about her work in the film, and comparisons between working on an independent British film and a huge television series like Sherlock.

How did you become involved with Delicious?

Michael and Tammy had seen me in Sherlock and thought of me for Stella quite early on. We had dinner and talked about the script and why Tammy wanted to tell that story and how she wanted to tell it. I had lots of questions about the 'kidnapping' element which Tammy addressed in later drafts. Then it was really about trying to find a chunk of time when we could all film. In the event I was doing Trojan Women in London at the same time. I was playing Cassandra, Andromache and Helen of Troy in that, so for the sixteen days we shot Delicious, I was playing four characters a day! 

Audiences are most likely to be familiar with your screen work through the role of Molly in Sherlock. How would you say Molly and Stella are similar, and how are they different?

I feel like they're two different women. Stella is raddled with self-doubt. She finds it difficult to let people get close to her and uses her wit to keep them away. She is self-destructive and angry, I think. Molly is quiet, steadfast, sweet, kind but knows her mind - and her heart. Stella is a bit bohemian, in her clothes and her interests. I can't imagine her dating anyone who works in IT. She also wears more eyeliner. 

Delicious was made on an extremely tight schedule of 16 days. Could you describe that experience?

We all just had to be incredibly focused. Tammy made more space for the emotionally difficult scenes where Stella is forcing food into her mouth and making herself sick. 

While having comedic elements, Delicious is very far from a 'standard' romantic comedy - we were particularly impressed by the ambiguity of the ending for example. Was this reflected in the script, or were you and the other cast allowed a degree of improvisation in rehearsal and production?

It was mostly in the script but Tammy was never precious if we had ideas; and Nico and I had a lot of fun. Its ambiguity was one of the things I liked about her writing and the story. 

Molly Hooper has been hailed as an extremely positive role model for young women. As we watch Delicious, we see that Stella has some serious issues that by the end are faced up to, but are potentially not quite overcome. How positive a role model would you consider Stella to be?

I don't think, for all her wit and bravery, I could really describe Stella as a positive role model, but I have had a lot of messages from women and girls who recognise her - either in themselves or in close friends. They write to tell me they are grateful that this is a woman they can relate to. I think Delicious is quite unflinching in its portrayal of eating disorders - the violence of bingeing was something I hadn't anticipated and found really upsetting when we shot it. But we absolutely needed not to rose-tint it. So I'm really glad that it spoke in some way to them. Tammy herself has been very open about her own struggle with food and we wanted it to be a very honest portrayal.

Delicious features some very challenging material, including an incredible moment for you as Stella is in the depths of despair.  How difficult is it to play a scene such as that?

I find it hard, to be honest. Because there's a little alarm bell that goes off behind my eyes when I don't believe what I'm doing, and it was really important to me that it looked and felt really truthful. I think Stella really hates herself at more than one point, and that's not a very nice feeling to try to access. I'm not saying I had to actually go there (although I did swallow more food than I was comfortable with, and I was actually retching at one point after I accidentally touched the toilet bowl with my tongue), but I found it emotionally hard, yes. 

Linked to that, did you research eating disorders in any way to aid you in preparation for the role?

I kept my reading to a minimum because I didn't want to crowd my head with stuff. But Tammy and I spoke at length about the character and her problems.

Those chocolate covered strawberries in particular looked mouth-watering on screen, but did the food taste as good as it looked?

The food was all absolutely amazing. But I made a terrible mistake and scoffed loads of it for real in the first couple of takes. So when we had to retake because there was a technical problem, I was so full I felt sick as a dog. 

Since Michael Price is most closely involved in the post-production of Sherlock we'd imagine encounters during the production of the series are few and far between. How was it to work with him more directly on Delicious?

It was glorious. He is a brilliant producer and I can't wait to work with him again - on the next Sherlock and maybe something else, if he'll have me. 

A cheeky last one, so answer if you dare! Who is the better kisser - Mr Rogner or Mr Cumberbatch?

They're both smashing. (One literally). 

Louise -brealey

Buy Delicious on DVD from Amazon UK and download from iTunes.