In the remake of All Creatures Great and Small, Mollie Winnard plays Maggie in the 1930s-set show, with the series being nominated for a number of awards this year and Series 2 airing recently on Channel 5 with an upcoming Christmas special. In 2018, Mollie joined the cast of Coronation Street in the role of Kayla Clifton, where she won an Inside Soap Award for Best Bad Girl for her portrayal of the character. Mollie made her first screen appearance in Love, Lies & Records in 2017 and she is continuing with her studies at Mark Hudson’s Manchester School of Acting. Chatting to Mollie, she tells us about playing Maggie in All Creatures Great and Small, winning Best Bad Girl at the Inside Soap Awards for her role of Kayla in Coronation Street and booking her screen debut in Love, Lies & Records.
You play Maggie in All Creatures Great and Small on Channel 5, can you tell us about the character and what do you enjoy most about playing her?
Oh I absolutely love playing Maggie! She is bold, rebellious and independent. She’s almost a woman before her time and I think that is what I love the most about her. She has attitude and is quite a fun character and so ultimately this makes her fun to play. I also adore her outfits and hair, obviously!
What’s it like being part of the remake and working alongside the rest of the cast?
Honestly I think this is one of my favourite productions that I have worked on yet. The cast and crew are so, so friendly and and I felt at home from the moment that filming started. We just all seemed to click, everyone is upbeat and a joy to be around and being part of the show genuinely has a family-like feel. It’s also so lovely being on set with everyone in costume and the set being designed so well, you genuinely feel like you are in a different era! I’m just so grateful that I have been able to be a part of it.
How did you prepare for the role and what is it like filming a series set in the 1930s?
The main bit of preparation for me was the accent and a bit on my physicality. With it being set in the 1930s, it couldn’t be a modern sound so I had sessions with my acting and dialect coach to help me get the sound right. For me, I find that the closer the sound is to my own accent the harder it is to get and, being from Lancashire, the changes were only subtle.
Have you had a favourite scene/episode to work on and what are some of your highlights from working on the show so far?
One of my favourite scenes to work on in the show so far is from Season 1’s Christmas special, I got to work with a real donkey! I would say working on set with real animals is definitely one of the highlights, they are all so cute and well behaved… at least most of the time! Tricki-Woo is actually a dog called Derek and he was one of the cutest little things I’ve ever seen! I’m also really looking forward to the Christmas special episode for Season 2, that was great fun to film, but I can’t give much away about that one, you will just have to watch it when it comes out!
How is it seeing the viewers’ response to the show and having it nominated for a number of awards this year?
It’s so exciting to see. I’m always nervous whenever any project I’m involved in gets aired in case the people closest to me don’t like it, but they all love it. And then the fact that the show has gone on to be nominated for so many awards is even more exciting! It’s a privilege to be a part of such a lovely feel-good programme and I am so glad that so many people enjoy it!
Having played Kayla Clifton in Coronation Street, how did you find the experience playing her and developing the character?
It was interesting, this was the first role that I’d played that I got to go on a real journey with. I found it quite easy to relate to Kayla because I really liked her. I know she may have done some horrible things, but I found an innocence and determination in her for the reason why. At the end of the day, it was the love for her dad that was driving her actions, she really believed that an injustice had happened to him and she would do anything to protect him and put things right. Really, when you think of that alone, you can see just how passionate she really is. Kayla was never a bad person in my eyes, she was a victim of her dad’s lies.
Can you say about the storyline and how was it winning an Inside Soap Award in 2018 for Best Bad Girl for your portrayal of Kayla?
Winning Best Bad Girl was a pinch me moment. The fact that so many people voted for me so long after all my scenes had been aired was amazing, it let me know that I had made a real impression. To be recognised for doing what I love and to know that other people watching me enjoy my performance is all I have ever wanted.
What was it like joining the cast and what are some of your favourite memories from your time in the soap?
Joining the cast was a mixed bag of emotions, I remember getting the call from my agents to tell me I had got the part and I have never been as excited in all my life. I think I may have actually screamed. But then joining the cast of such a well-known soap is so nerve-racking at the same time. My first day on set I had one scene and one line in it and honestly I couldn’t breathe and it was so quick-paced, it was all over in one take and I couldn’t even remember what I had done! The nerves soon went though and I settled in quick. I would say my favourite memory is filming the kidnap scenes and the car crash scene. Learning the process of how they film a fake car crash was very interesting and with the kidnap scenes I got to smash a fake vase over Lucy (Fallon)’s head… don’t worry, it didn’t hurt at all, although the first time that we practiced, I was so scared that it would!
You had your first screen role filming Love, Lies & Records as Zoe, do you remember how you felt booking the role and can you say about your episodes?
I was over the moon. I remember getting the email saying I was being offered the role of Zoe and I just couldn’t believe that I was actually going to get paid to do the thing I love the most in the world! And to be working alongside such well-known actors was a dream too.
Had you always wanted to be an actor and how did you start?
I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember! I even used to make up and perform plays for my mum when I was in school and once my brothers came along, I used to dress them up and make them join in too… And yes, much to my brothers’ embarrassment, my mum does have videos! I would say the first time I realised that this was what I wanted to do was at primary school. I played one of the leads in our end of school play, I was the stress teacher and one of my friend’s mums said ‘if she doesn’t become an actor I will eat my own hat’ and that was it… I was decided. I started off at a local youth theatre and then, when I was eighteen, I auditioned for Mark Hudson’s Manchester School of Acting, which I still study at, and my career just kind of kick-started from there.
What’s your favourite aspect of having a screen career?
I don’t think I have just one favourite aspect, I honestly just love the whole process. I love the prep, asking questions and delving into the mindset of characters and dressing up and feeling like someone completely different to me. I love the performance and creating a connection within a scene. I really love people enjoying or feeling an emotion after watching a performance and, so far, I’ve loved all the people that I’ve met when working. So yeah, not really just one thing, but all the things. As they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Have you been given any advice over the years that has stuck with you?
There are a few bits of advice that have kind of stuck with me over the years, one that I have found particularly useful in this industry was what my acting coach said to me very early on in my career. As an actor, you can do many auditions before you get a job and this can be testing at times, making you feel not good enough, but my coach said whenever you are feeling down about not getting a part, you need to remind yourself that it isn’t because you are not good, you wouldn’t even be in the room if you weren’t good, it’s because you aren’t right for that particular role and that has helped me to stay positive within an industry that gives you a lot of knock-backs.
The second bit of advice that has really stuck with me… although at times I am guilty of not following it myself, is don’t judge your success by the success of others, trust in the timing of your own life. People achieve things at different times. I was watching all of my friends go off to uni, some even finish uni, buy their first houses, all whilst I was working in the same restaurant that I had done since I was fourteen and I felt like I was being left behind, but I am so, so glad that I didn’t give up. My timing was just different to those around me.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch?
My most recent watch is the new Netflix show Maid. WOW. If you haven’t watched it yet, you need to. I won’t give any spoilers but this is just an all-round amazing show, beautifully acted and a beautiful portrayal of such important topics. One of my other favourites is Ozark, Season 3 being my ultimate favourite! I just love Jason Bateman’s style of directing and Laura Linney’s performance in this is next level. Bring on Season 4! And my secret guilty pleasure all-time favourite film is The Holiday. This is our family Christmas special and I must have watched this film 100 times and still cry every single time!
What are you hoping the upcoming months bring for your career?
Who knows what the future holds, but whatever it is I can’t wait to find out! Things seem to be picking up again now since COVID so I am just excited to get stuck back in. I’d love to film a project that involves filming overseas as I’ve always wanted to travel with my work but as to what kind of project that’s with, who knows! There are so many things I still want to do with my career – crime drama and some form of romance are definitely up on the list, and then I’ve always wanted to act in something more fantasy as I am a big The Vampire Diaries fan! We will just have to wait and see.
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