Keeping Rosy is the new British thriller starring Maxine Peake, Blake Harrison and Christine Bottomley. Peake is Charlotte, a career driven woman who is turned down from a major position at the firm she has worked so long and so hard for. Gripped by rage, Charlotte takes out her anger on her cleaner, with devastating consequences. Desparate for help, Charlotte turns to her sister Sarah (Bottomley) and Roger (Harrison) a security guard with a dark and sinister agenda.
Maxine Peake is best known for her TV roles in Dinnerladies (1998-2000), Shameless (2004) and See No Evil (2006). This new role sees her go deep into the psyche of a complex character whose life is unravelling before our eyes. We spoke to Maxine about this challenging role and her relationship with the rest of the cast.
F3S: How did you first become involved in Keeping Rosy?
Maxine Peake: I got a call from my agent saying a script had come in and that they wanted to meet me. I read it and I just loved it. I was really surprised that this was a female lead piece. It wasn’t a chick flick as they call them – it was really exciting, well crafted, with a tight script. So I met with Steve Reeves the director, and Mike who wrote it, and just had a chat. And then I thought, ‘OK I have to do it’ but I didn’t know whether they’d pick me. Then I got a call saying they would like me on board – so that’s how it happened.
F3S: How would you compare this to your other roles? You’ve played some dark characters before…
MP: I don’t think she’s a pleasant character, not initially. I think she’s become a victim and has become quite arrogant. It’s a tough life, especially for a woman, in the advertising world, and she’s become quite detached really. She’s lost the sense of who she is as a person; she’s become more about work and making the money. Throughout the film those layers start to peel away and she starts to find out who she really is and what she really wants.
F3S: What was it like to play a character whose mentality changes so much throughout the film?
MP: It’s a real challenge but that’s the fun of it. I think you’re happy as an actor to get the opportunity to play somebody who is affected by the situation they’re in and the events that happen to them. It was a challenge but I enjoyed it. The more challenging it is the more enjoyable it is really – I don’t see the point in doing roles otherwise.
F3S: The film was filmed in Docklands area of London – what was it like to film around there?
MP: It’s got a real bleakness about it, which I loved. At the weekend it feels dead, and there’s little sense of any. There are a few shops and a hairdressers but it’s quite a transient place. Lots of people from all around the world live there because of the trade in the city. So it’s a strange place but there’s something quite atmospheric about it. Something quite alluring about it really and I liked the anonymity of it.
F3S: There are some particularly challenging scenes in the film, were any of them hard to film?
MP: We had twin babies on the set and they didn’t stop crying! But they are the stars of the film. There were times spent just trying to get them to sleep and calm down. Occasionally we just had to roll the camera – its obviously quite difficult trying to speak over screaming babies, but it comes across on screen brilliantly.
F3S: From your character’s perspective, what do you think Charlotte gains from spending time with the baby?
MP: It’s the only time she has spent with another human being really. She gets a sense of who she is, of being a woman, of being a mother, of being nurturing, maternal and its something she may have never given a passing glance to. She has had her career destroyed and has to start again – in her world, it’s very difficult to get back to the same position. So she finds another road, which to her surprise she actually enjoys.
F3S: There’s a lengthy process of Charlotte trying to get rid a the body – was that tough to film?
MP: It was hard work, it was very heavy! And driving that ridiculous 4×4, which wasn’t easy to maneuver! I’m used to a small car, which feels very different to driving that thing around the streets of London. There was lots of charging around, running up and down the car park. I enjoyed it. It was nice to do a bit of an action movie really.
F3S: There’s very little dialogue in the first part of the film and it relies a lot on your emotions and facial expressions. How did you cope with that?
MP: To be honest, as an actor, I was quite happy to have no dialogue because it’s more difficult when you’ve got to speak. What intrigued me was trying to see what’s going on behind her eyes.
F3S: Did you know that Blake Harrison had that side in him?!
MP: I remember when they were looking to cast, and Steve said he was going to cast Blake Harrison. I remember thinking it was a brilliant bit of casting. Of course he can do it, he doesn’t just play one role. We just know him from that role in The Inbetweeners but he’s an extremely versatile actor. He was fantastic and it really gave him a chance to play against type. You get type cast in this job and it’s so frustrating but he just really took to it like a duck to water. He did scare me a bit but he’s got that love and naïvety. There’s a sadness to him which makes it a really multi-faceted character. Blake just played it as a complete psychopath – but you understand where the character has come from, you understand why he’s like that.
F3S: And you know Christine Bottomley very well…
MP: Yes, Christine is one of my best pals, so that was really lucky. When they asked me about a sister for Charlotte, Steve Reeves said ‘I’ve done an advert with Christine, and I absolutely love her.’ So that was it! She’s just wonderful in the film, but as we have that friendship anyway, it was lovely to wake up in the morning and go spend some time with a mate.
F3S: What has the response to the film been like so far?
MP: People are enjoying it, especially the ending. I came into the premier at the end and I’ve never heard such a collective gasp. I think they were really surprised with it – this low budget, British film that has a female protagonist. But it’s just a good gripping thriller and story. It’s really well directed, it looks fantastic. I’ve been really pleased with the response to it.