INTERVIEW: Silent Witness’s Emilia Fox talks playing villain in The Tunnel: Sabotage
With the continual success of BBC One’s Silent Witness, on which she has starred since 2004, it’s safe to say that Emilia Fox is a household name for her portrayal of the idealistic forensic pathologist Dr. Nikki Alexander.
After watching Nikki Alexander for twelve years, it might be interesting to learn that in the second series of Sky Atlantic hit The Tunnel – originally a British-French remake of The Bridge but has since parted ways with the Scandinavian success story – Fox has strayed just about as far from Nikki as she can go. In The Tunnel: Sabotage, Fox portrays the dangerous, opportunistic and completely amoral businesswoman Vanessa Hamilton, who specialises in all things illegal.
At a recent sit-down in London with TVGuide.co.uk, Fox admitted the change was something she welcomed after twelve years of playing “goodie” Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness for so long: “It was lovely to be on the other side of it. Normally, [I’m] questing after truth and justice on the good side of the table, and [now I’ve been] asked to play someone who is so completely the opposite. I think it challenges people’s preconceptions and it was also such a challenge to play someone who does such outrageous things and orchestrates such outrageous things.”
On whether it was difficult to get into the headspace of someone who seems so – for lack of a better word – evil, Emilia said: “I found it difficult to get into the mind of someone who could do something so appalling… and she gets more appalling. The only way I could imagine it is that she completely cuts herself off from the emotion of it.”
Asked if there was anything redemptive about the character of Vanessa Hamilton, her response was immediate: “No.”
“I was asked this question [recently]: Do you think she’s a panto baddie? I definitely feel not, because there are people out there who do absolutely horrific things.
“I have been working with a charity called Unseen, and I felt by doing this I could direct some attention to the work that they’re doing for people who are being trafficked. It’s a very contemporary issue.
“The horrifying thing about the whole of The Tunnel is that although it’s set in the world of drama and we’re not saying that it’s a documentary, it is absolutely believable that these things happen. I find it with Silent Witness – there’s normally one episode a series where you go oh my god, this has now happened, no-one could have known in the writing of it, but then it happens and you’re like oh my gosh are they gonna put it in? I think that’s just brilliant research and great writing, because it’s something that we then all talk about.”
The Tunnel: Sabotage is available from 12th April at 9pm on Sky Atlantic, with all episodes available same night via Sky Box Sets.