Screen and stage actress Jade Croot has recently finished her run in the National Theatre’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane as Sis and Ensemble and had previously made her West End debut as Tullia in Imperium Part I: Conspirator and Imperium Part II: Dictator at Gielgud Theatre. Last year, Jade starred as Leona Bevan in The Accident for Channel 4 alongside Sarah Lancashire and Mark Lewis Jones, and also as Princess Adda in the recent Netflix release of The Witcher. Catching up with Jade, she talks about making her West End debut with Imperium, performing in The Ocean at the End of the Lane and playing Leona Bevan in The Accident.
Can you tell us about performing as Sis and Ensemble in The Ocean at the End of the Lane?
It was so much fun. Sis is a certain type of character that I’ve never gotten to play before. She’s young and funny and always has something to say, so it was a new challenge for me completely, but I loved every second of it. Also, being able to perform in the ensemble as well was something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have so many fond memories of Sis and being a part of that show, I feel very lucky and humbled to have been given such an opportunity. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
Were you familiar with any of Neil Gaiman’s work before auditioning for this adaptation and what drew you to the script?
I’ve always been a huge Neil Gaiman fan and have always admired his work so auditioning for The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a real dream come true and then being chosen to bring Sis to life has been a real privilege. Joel Horwood’s script is so fantastic – I remember reading the script in my back garden the evening I got it and I couldn’t put it down. I went on a real journey with all the characters and immediately knew it was something I was desperate to do. It’s a special story that touches a lot of people, and Joel adapted it so beautifully.
How did you find your debut for the National Theatre?
I’m still pinching myself as it was just a dream come true. It’s somewhere I’ve always hoped I’d work, but never thought I would ever be so lucky. I learnt so much and made some wonderful friends, it’s such a special place to work and full of inspiring people. I hope one day I’m lucky enough to be asked back there.
What did you enjoy most about your time at the theatre and why would you recommend young actors to audition for a show there?
It’s a wonderful place to work, I have so many lovely memories that I will always treasure. The buzz you get from the audience every night is an electric feeling… and they always seemed genuinely moved by our show. I think that’s what I enjoyed most about working there.
I’ll never forget being at stage door one night after the show, and a little lad hugged me with the same look in his eyes that I had when I first started watching theatre. It’s lovely that so many people seemed so moved and touched by it.
I’d absolutely recommend young people to audition there. It’s an incredible theatre and everyone in that building is so supportive of each other. I’m quite emotional thinking about it actually!
You performed in Imperium Part I: Conspirator and Imperium Part II: Dictator as Tullia, how would you describe the character?
She had a real strength, grit and determination about her (which I loved playing) and she goes on a real journey throughout the show. She was so much fun to play! I, myself, learnt a lot from Tullia personally, I think. She was also always brave, even at her lowest points in her journey. I miss playing her!
You made your West End debut in the show, can you describe how you felt on your first show at the Gielgud?
Oh, I was so, so nervous. I really was! I kept thinking of all my family back home in Wales, wanting to make them proud. I was emotional because it had been a dream of mine to perform on a West End stage since I can remember. I have a picture on my phone from when I was about fourteen outside a theatre in London and I kept remembering the feeling of just hoping and dreaming that one day I’d be on the stage too. It was a very emotional evening and I just remember feeling full of gratitude.
You played one of the lead characters Leona in The Accident, what was she like to play?
Leona is so completely different to me as a person, so I really pushed myself, because as people – we are polar opposites. But that’s when you get to really experiment and stretch yourself further than you think you can go, and that’s why I became an actor.
She goes on a big journey, and there were a few huge scenes that I wanted to get right more than anything. I did a lot of research for that role and did my absolute best to do it justice.
Jack Thorne is an incredible writer and for him to trust me with Leona was an honour. She was a gift of a part and I had such a wonderful time playing her, and bringing her to life.
Did you watch it when it screened to Channel 4 last year, and how was it seeing the finished production?
I’m my own worst critic and I really struggle to watch myself in anything I do! The Accident changed my life in so many ways and watching it back was incredibly overwhelming. I watched it with some friends, wrapped in a Welsh flag around me (my buddies made me!), while I cried a lot. It meant so much to me to do Leona justice, and I was ever so nervous but it’s something I’m so, so proud to have been involved in. Working with my heroes, Sarah Lancashire and Mark Lewis Jones, is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
How was it turning up to set for the first day of filming?
It was terrifying. I was so nervous, but our director, Sandra Goldbacher was incredibly amazing and supportive. Sarah Lancashire was incredible. She held my hand and gave me so many encouraging words of wisdom and advice – she is my superhero through and through. The first day is always the scariest but she carried me through my nerves and gave me so much love and support. I know I’ve found a dear friend for life in her.
What’s it like playing Princess Adda in The Witcher?
Ahhhhh, Princess Adda! She’s badass!! And scary too actually! I loved bringing her to life. I know the books and the games mean a lot to a lot of people, so I just wanted to do it justice. I gave it everything I had. She’s a lot different to anything I’ve played before and I’d love to see where her journey goes next.
What did you find most challenging about this role?
Well, being nude in front of a crew whether big or small is a very scary thought and I’d never done a nude scene before, so it felt like my biggest challenge yet. Everyone was so lovely and caring on set, Henry Cavill was a gentleman and really looked after me on that day of filming. I was very nervous, as it felt like a huge deal, but it’s something I can now say that I’ve done and I’m very proud to say that too. I didn’t want my nerves to take over so I channelled that into my performance as best as I could, gave it my best shot and tried my hardest to stay as real to the character as I could.
We understand you are highly skilled in karate, can you tell us more about it and how you got into the sport?
I was always very shy as a child and didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself and I vividly remember watching The Karate Kid as an eight-year-old feeling really inspired. I just remember practicing the ‘moves’ and I think within the week I was attending my first ever karate lesson. It was/is such a huge passion of mine and if it hadn’t have been for karate, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. It made me believe in myself a lot more and I started to compete early on, which is when I competed at the Welsh Championships, gave it my all and came away with first place. I felt like the real-life Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid and that moment has always stayed with me since!
Was there anyone or anything that inspired you to get into acting?
Anthony Hopkins. He’s my hero, a true legend and he’s also Welsh! I’d give anything to meet him one day. I remember watching him in Silence of the Lambs feeling so inspired and scared all at the same time! If one day I’m ever lucky enough to meet him, it’ll be the best day of my life, I think!
What are your current and upcoming career plans?
I’ve got something lovely in the pipeline that I can’t yet speak about and otherwise I’m doing my best and auditioning as much as I can. I’m excited for what’s to come!
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