📷 : Lisa Visser
Since starting acting professionally at the age of ten, Hollie Burgess appeared in a couple of episodes of Silent Witness before going on to play the role of Pippa Gillespie in Series Two of Broadchurch, where she worked with a cast including David Tennant and Olivia Colman. In 2018, Hollie played a Gryffindor Girl in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and this year will see her as Miranda in crime drama Top Boy on Netflix. As well as a screen career, Hollie has recorded for radio play What’s Wrong With Baby along with many other BBC Radio dramas. Speaking with Hollie, she says more about filming for Broadchurch, having a role in Fantastic Beasts and her radio work.
How was your experience filming for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald?
Filming Fantastic Beasts was so surreal! I was so excited to be filming at Leavesden Studios and Lacock Abbey in Bath, where the original films were shot. Having watched the Harry Potter films, it was so insane to really be there and see it all in person. It was huge!
During a scene, I got to have CGI on my mouth to make it disappear, which I found so interesting to see how they did that by drawing dots all over my face.
Being fitted for my Hogwarts uniform was another surreal moment. I remember looking in the mirror with the full outfit on and being so speechless… it’s not every day you get to say you’re attending Hogwarts!
What was it like on set of the production?
On set, all the cast and crew were so welcoming and friendly. I think it was very special for everyone to be a part of creating the Hogwarts scenes as we were re-visiting such an iconic place. So, we were all in awe of the set, especially when we were at Lacock Abbey. We all had the Hogwarts trunks and some of us even had real owls! Being on such a large set was so exciting but also nerve-racking because there were so many people, especially as prior to this, I’d never filmed anything on that scale. I wish I could just go back and do it all again!
📷 : Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Had you watched the first film before being cast?
Yes, I had watched it! I thought it was amazing. Especially now, having seen the sets and meeting the actors, I love watching it even more.
Can you say about your character Hannah in SHHH! and what is she like to portray?
Hannah was a very interesting character to play. This series had no dialogue and therefore was fully reliant on us using our faces and our physicality. I didn’t realise until filming this how much we rely on our lines to act, so it was very fun to give this a go. This was actually one of the first jobs where I got to work with other people my age, so it was nice to make friends and have people to just hang out with.
How was your character, Kelly Sparrock involved in the storyline of Doc Martin?
Kelly was a patient at Doc Martin’s surgery. She suffered with a form of epilepsy known as absence seizures. As a character, Kelly has a lot of attitude and therefore clashed with the character of Doc Martin, which made it quite comical. Martin Clunes, who plays the Doc, is such a great actor and a genuinely funny person, so he made me very comfortable on set, which really helped when creating the comedy within the scenes.
📷 : Doc Martin
What was Broadchurch like to appear in?
Broadchurch was such an exciting project to be a part of. I still feel very lucky to have worked on this, as I got to meet so many amazing actors and directors, who I learned so much from. Still to this day I take on their advice when it comes to acting and also just in my day-to-day life.
The funny thing is, my mum happened to show me, only a short while before my audition came through, a clip of Olivia Colman from the first series, to show me how incredibly powerful her acting is. So, when I got the part in the second series, it was so exciting for me to get to be a part of something she was in!
How was it being part of the cast?
I had such a great time being part of the cast. Everyone was so lovely. Because of how secretive the project was, we were only sent the sides relevant to our character and so not everyone knew the same information. People were constantly asking each other questions, trying to catch them out and find out more information, which was very funny.
One of the best moments for me was when Olivia Colman offered me a cupcake with her face on it! Her and David Tennant had bought cakes for everyone with pictures of their faces made out of sugar paper and were seeing who could give them out faster. For such a serious show, it was great to have such a relaxed cast and crew!
Can you describe your character Pippa Gillespie?
There were two sides to the character of Pippa. In some flashbacks, she was very happy, energetic and lively; just a normal twelve/thirteen-year-old girl. However, when the story unfolded, we saw Pippa as very vulnerable which was quite upsetting. Although I was only young, I used to sit up late at night reading and analysing my script, writing down all the emotions Pippa should feel. I probably went a little overboard when it came to preparation but I felt that, to take on such a heavily emotional character, I needed to know exactly what she needed to feel and how to feel it.
How did you find your time filming for your episode of Top Boy?
Top Boy was the first project where I got to film without a parent/chaperone as I had turned sixteen. That made filming even more fun as I had more freedom and I felt more independent, especially as I was put up in a hotel for a few nights whilst filming.
Can you say about recording for BBC Radio drama?
Radio is such a satisfying thing to do. You’re stood in front of a mic for, pretty much, a whole day, acting your lines, often with a foley artist next to you. Then you hear the final project and it sounds like you were actually on location, acting out the scene. There are so many possibilities with radio. I have recorded with so many different accents, from Yorkshire all the way to Brooklyn, and played such a vast range of characters. Radio, no different to TV or Film, is different each time. I have recorded in a studio that is simply just you in front of a mic, to being stood in a room with five or six other people gathered around the same mics. It’s so impressive. I most recently played the role of Sigrid in the sixth series of Gudrun for BBC Radio 4, and whilst recording the scenes for this radio drama, we had a lovely foley artist making some live sound effects for us, as well as some pre-recorded sound effects being put on at the same time. It was SO clever. I really hope to continue doing radio projects and maybe one day make one of my own. I LOVE IT!
You recorded the radio play What’s Wrong With Baby, can you tell us more about this?
Yes! What’s Wrong With Baby is a BBC Radio drama about a mum who confronts her daughter’s bully. The drama provides the listener with such a range of characters which helps to form a very relatable and fascinating story. I played the role of Eve, who appears at first to be a nasty bully, however, we discover that there is far more to her situation and that she is in fact a young carer, desperate to have a normal mother-figure and to be loved. This was one of my favourite radio dramas, beautifully written by Emma Jowett. I got to play a leading character from the East-end of London whose experiences were so far from my own.
We understand you enjoy singing, is this something you have always done and what styles do you like performing?
I have been singing since I was really young. I used to be obsessed with the music from Hairspray as a kid! Now though, I like to sing more ballads or pop songs. I also love to write my own original music. I have written at least twelve songs. Whenever something happens to me, good or bad, I’ll sit down in front of the piano and just make a song. Sometimes I’ll take a while to write one and then I’ll record it and other times, I’ll write a song in fifteen minutes, sing it a few times and then never sing it again. I find songwriting really helpful, almost like your own personal therapy!
How did you get into acting?
I started acting properly when I was ten, but when I was seven, I was invited to do some SA work (supportive artist/extra work) on a BBC series. I was on set for about a week. There was so much waiting around and therefore my mum thought I would get bored but I definitely never did! I begged my mum basically every day until I was ten to be able to do it professionally and then one day she gave in and let me audition for an agency and it went from there really. I have to say though, I am so glad my parents didn’t let me go into acting too easily, as the industry is such a tough place and you have to be really determined and passionate, so because I had to wait so long it has made me work extremely hard. I also wanted to prove to my parents they made the right decision!
What are your upcoming career plans?
Recently, I have just returned from filming a small project in Bulgaria but mainly I have been focusing on my A Level mock exams. As a career plan going forward, I hope to continue working in TV, Film and radio in the future, but I would also love the opportunity to work on stage one day too.
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