Jenna Coleman on BBC crime thriller The Serpent and perfecting her French accent

Virgin Radio

5 Jan 2021, 10:22

Getting stuck into a serial killer drama seems like an appropriate thing to do this January. Jenna Coleman joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky earlier to talk about her latest role as the questionable accomplice of serial killer Charles Sobhraj who killed backpackers in Thailand, Nepal and India in the 1970s on the 'Hippie Trail'.

The Doctor Who star said about returning to the UK to film because of the pandemic: “We got flown back from Bangkok with a few hours notice and then picked up the rest of the story in Tring which acted as Paris, Bombay, Karachi and many other locations that work seamlessly on screen.”

How did she feel playing the dark character who quickly changed identities after meeting the serial killer from 'Marie-Andrée' to 'Monique'? 

She explained: “When I watched episode one and you follow the first victim’s story, you see the hippie liberation and purity meeting the serpent, the dark cobra.

“When I read the script I became fascinated by Sobhraj and quite obsessive because he really is so intoxicating and seductive which is what makes it so, so disturbing. 

“There's loads of tapes that I got to listen to for research of her in prison, the real Marie-Andrée, and she'd previously never left Canada.

“She was a devout Catholic and grew up in Quebec and had never really travelled before, and upon meeting Charles within three weeks she was drugging people.

“The line of 'is she a victim and how much of an accomplice was she?' is what we investigate throughout the series.

“She kept the name Monique throughout her days in prison that Charles Sobhraj gave her and the character that he built she kept for the rest of her life which I think was really, really telling.”

How did her French lessons go? She admitted: “I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

"It’s one thing being an English person speaking French, but to convincingly be a French person amongst French actors was kind of insane.

“I had an incredible coach… he taught me the English-French and also French-Canadian. It's all different pronunciation which apparently to French people sound very different!”