For her first continuous role, Carla Woodcock played Susie across all episodes of the popular Netflix series Free Rein, and during her time in the cast, she has seen the show be nominated for and win a number of awards including at the Daytime Emmys. Carla has previously been seen in a couple of episodes of Emmerdale as Lilly, who caused chaos in The Woolpack, and filmed on location in Bulgaria for her role as Sarika Larson in last year’s new Sci-Fi drama series Pandora. Taking time to chat with us, Carla says about her time as Susie in Free Rein, filming for Pandora as Sarika Larson and preparing for new roles.
What was it like booking your role of Susie in Free Rein for Netflix and can you tell us about playing her?
It was honestly kind of surreal. Free Rein was one of the first auditions I had been to and I was so new to the whole process I really wasn’t expecting to book anything! I’m so grateful to have been able to play Susie, being on the show has taught me so much about myself, about the industry in general and I’ve met so many amazing people.
How much did you know about the show before auditioning and how was it seeing the script for the first time?
I didn’t know much about the show at all. Initially, I got a small breakdown about the show and my character and a few audition scenes (some of which weren’t even real scenes from the show) so finally getting to see the full script was really exciting! I think the first time I saw the script was at the read-through so we had all the other cast members there which really brought the script to life.
Do you remember how you felt turning up to the set on the first day?
Nervous, very nervous! We had the writers and all the producers on set that day so I wanted to do a good job and impress them. Luckily I had Céline (Buckens), who plays Mia, with me which helped me feel more at ease and once we got into the swing of things I felt much more relaxed and I think (hope!) I did a good job!
How has it been seeing the character develop over the years?
I think Susie is one of the characters to have grown the most over the series. When we first meet Susie, she’s out as a bit of pushover who lives in the shadow of her best friend Mia, but as the story progresses we see Susie grow into herself more and gain confidence. She stands up for herself when she finds out her boyfriend cheats on her, she is often the first person to tell Mia when her scheming goes too far and in Series 3, she starts a job outside of the stables on her own which I don’t think she would have ever done in Series 1. By the end of the series, we see Susie as a strong, confident young woman. Go girl!
What have you enjoyed most about working on the show?
It’s a toss-up between the friends I’ve made and the horse riding. I used to have riding lessons when I was younger but I kept falling off and got scared so I quit and started taking acting classes instead! Obviously, I’m glad I got into acting but I regretted giving it up so when I had the opportunity to start riding again I was really excited.
Do you have any funny moments from your time on the set of Free Rein that you can share?
I’m not sure if Manny (Bambra), who plays Jade, will remember this but our producer once tried to prank her in the middle of the scene. He put baked beans into a bag that she was supposed to reach into so when she did she would get it all all over her hands… I don’t think she fell for it because we were all gathered around giggling waiting for her to do it so I think we gave it away! Also, when we were filming the food fight episode, they were trying to get a take of me throwing cream at Céline but I missed and hit one of the crew guys behind her instead. Let’s just say my hand-eye coordination is not the best…
You’ve filmed for TV series Pandora as Sarika Larson, what was this like?
I really enjoyed it. I got to travel to Bulgaria to film and I’d never been to Bulgaria before so it was really interesting to explore a little bit on my days off. I got to play a character that was very different from myself. Sarika Larson was a very talented coder who was jealous of another student so tried to hack into her database and made her do really crazy things. I don’t have much experience with the Sci-Fi genre so it was fun and interesting to be submerged in another world for a couple of weeks!
How was it on set and working with the rest of the cast?
The cast were all lovely and a joy. I joined a few weeks into filming so it can always be a bit nerve-racking having to fit into a cast that already know each other pretty well but they were so welcoming and friendly. Martin (Bobb-Semple), who played Alex on Free Rein, was also on the show and he was one of my closest friends on set so it was really fun to be reunited and work together again.
How did you find the experience working on Emmerdale as Lilly?
It was great! Emmerdale was my first job after filming the first series of Free Rein so it was good to have a new experience working on a different type of show and I definitely learnt a lot while I was filming there.
Can you tell us about your character in the show and what she was like to play?
Lilly was at her best friend’s party at The Woolpack and caused some chaos! She ended up sneakily drinking some alcohol, got a bit too drunk and then threw up all over the toilets. Do not drink underage! Lilly definitely regretted it.
How do you prepare for auditions and playing a role?
Personally, I like to learn my lines as well as possible but I don’t like to over-prepare too much because for me it can often take away from the spontaneity and raw emotion of the moment. I like to rehearse with my friends so you have someone else to bounce off in the scene. Then, once I’ve gone over it a few times and I feel confident, I try not to think about it too much, which is hard for me because I’m a big overthinker!
Where does your love of acting come from and when did you know you wanted to take it up professionally?
I’m not really sure exactly where it’s come from but I’ve always been quite dramatic so I guess I just thought I should put it to good use! My mum put me in drama classes when I was little and as I grew up I realised that acting was the one thing I loved to do the most so I thought I might as well try to pursue it as a career and see what happens. I’m so glad I did!
What do you enjoy doing away from acting?
Watch other people act! I try and go to the theatre as much as I can and I hope they’re able to reopen safely soon. It’s been really sad to see the effect lockdown has had on the industry. I love food, cooking, trying new restaurants and recipes. I also enjoy reading and I’ve got really into yoga over the past few months.
What are some of your favourite TV shows and films to watch?
I love RuPaul’s Drag Race so I’ve been keeping up with the new seasons of that, it’s been providing me with some positive vibes over the past few months. I also recently watched I May Destroy You on BBC Three which was absolutely incredible. Michaela Coel is a genius and I cannot stop talking about her to anyone that will listen!
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