TVSA Interview: Hex's Jemima Rooper

Written by Tashi from the blog Interviews on 08 Apr 2008
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The supernatural thriller/fantasy series Hex premieres on SET tonight (Tuesday, 8 April 2008 at 22h00) for a second run of its two seasons.

When the channel first launched in SA last year the show premiered in the same week and I missed it - it was tucked away on Saturdays - so I was pleased when I saw it's happening again.

From what I've heard and read it's edgy and different  - it's a UK show set at an 18th century boarding school that centres around Cassie Hughes and her best friend Thelma Bates - who has a crush on Cassie and becomes a ghost in Season 1. 

Cassie discovers that she has supernatural abilities and the pair get involved in witchcraft and a battle between angels and demons.

To get us insider insight into the show I spoke with actress Jemima Rooper, who plays Thelma:


Tashi: Could you tell us about Thelma from your perspective - who is she? What’s she’s like?
Jemima: Thelma’s kind of brilliant because she’s someone who’s very sure of who she is. She doesn’t care that she doesn’t fit into her school environment and that’s she different from everyone else.

She completely owns that and she’s very secure yet she’s dealing with her feelings for her best friend Cassie which are mixed up because she gets mixed messages from her which leaves her unhappy but she’s a very brave, spunky young thing - she’s great.

Tashi: What’s the most challenging thing about playing a ghost? Do you have to go “Hooo-ooo”?
Jemima: *laughs* No I kind of wish I did. The annoying thing is that we sort of set up rules - like Thelma can’t touch anyone - so it would be really difficult ‘cos we’d do a scene and sometimes Cristina Cole, who plays Cassie - sometimes I’d want to grab her arm or hug her and you’d kind of go “Oh God no - we can’t do that,” so we’d have to figure out ways of expressing the same thing but without touching which was really weird.

It was difficult for some of the actors I think, who weren’t supposed to see me.

Tashi: Do you believe in ghosts?
Jemima: Yes I do, yeah.

Tashi: Have you ever had a ghostly experience?
Jemima: Yes - but it kinda turned out it wasn’t a ghostly experience. A friend and I heard a rumour that in the film Three Men And A Baby there’s a scene where you can see a ghost of a little boy so we found a copy of it.

We watched and about half way through my friend just suddenly went: ” Jemima this is the scene the ghost is in,” and we suddenly saw this little boy. We both screamed, we were sobbing our eyes out and scared - it felt like there were ghosts around us everywhere.

Then her boyfriend discovered an internet site that explained that it’s not a ghost at all.

Tashi: So what is it?
Jemima: Ted Danson plays an actor and it’s a cardboard cutout of his character in costume, half behind a net curtain and it just looked like a little boy - it’s very silly.

Tashi: *laughs* What’s the creepiest thing that happened on the Hex set while you were filming?
Jemima: One of the props guys, who we called Big Jay - ‘cos he’s not small - he would often get naked and just wonder into shot. It would happen quite often … which was pretty creepy.

Tashi: *laughs* The show seems to be about the existence of two worlds: one we can see and one that we can’t. What’s your take on it? Do you think the world’s really like that?
Jemima: I don’t really know what I believe but I think that things aren’t just what we see, that there’s a lot more going on. You meet those spiritual people sometimes who just know stuff about you or you sense things about people. I have no idea how to quantify it or explain it or what I think about it but I do think it’s not just what’s in front of us.

Tashi: Thelma’s relationship with Cassie - she’s got a crush on her : talk about that for a bit.
Jemima: I think what’s really sad for Thelma is that - she’s a lesbian, she likes woman, - she’s fallen in love with her best friend. Whether that’s boy, girl, whatever combination, it’s a very tricky situation to be in ‘cos you risk losing the friendship if you take the plunge with love.

That’s the tragic thing about Thelma all the way through the story - she’s completely head over heals for her and it’s what drives her whether she’s alive or dead. It’s a beautifully tragic element to her that will never be requited.


Tashi: What’s your take on witches? Are they good? Evil? Are they real?
Jemima: Some are good and some are bad. I’ve always wanted to be a witch. I saw the film The Craft when I was about 14 - it ended up going very badly wrong - but all that ... you know, having four girls in a coven together, casting spells - there was something very fun about it but like anything it can get twisted and go nasty.

Tashi: If you could cast a spell - what would it be?
Jemima: It would be to know things before they happen - to do with jobs – like if I knew I was going to get a job so I could plan my life. *laughs*.

Tashi: The dangerous stranger Azazeal murders you in Season 1 - what role does he play in the story?
Jemima: He’s a really interesting one - I think what Hex tries to deal with is that there aren’t divides between heaven and hell, good and evil - the lines get blurred.

Azazeal’s a very good example of that - you’d think he’s all bad at first but then you get to see a lot more of the character and the situations that occur and you see a lot more of the light in him.


Tashi: Do you have issues with him seeings as he killed you?
Jemima: Yes! Thelma continues to loathe him - yes.

Tashi: If you weren’t in the show, what is it about it that you’d enjoy watching?
Jemima: I love the way the whole thing looks - I think in the time they were given they did such a good job of the lighting and the shots. I like that it’s set in a school environment and you’ve got these old fashioned teenagers but going through the things everyday things teenager goes through - set against heaven and hell and magic.

Tashi: There aren’t enough shows about teenagers generally.?
Jemima: No - someone said to me recently - shows about teenagers, people often assume they’re just for teenagers and I think Hex breaks through that. Even though the central characters are teenagers, certainly in the UK it’s appealed to a much wider age group.

Tashi: I always enjoy story’s to do with teenagers - like I’ll even watch Clueless.
Jemima: Oh good! - me too.

Tashi: What are the themes of Hex that you enjoy?
Jemima: I enjoy all the love themes in it - there are so many relationships in it and they’re all interesting situations. I also enjoy the commentary on religion, which I think is done in a really funny way.

Azazeal has a speech near the end of Season 1 which was taken from ... one of the writers went onto an anti-abortion website in America and found all this stuff and used it in the script so you’ve got this fallen angel - who’s not dissimilar from the devil - using words that Christians use in Bible belt America to argue against abortion and stuff.

The show just has fun with how people view things and plays with how religion’s viewed and good and evil and that sort of thing.


To find out more about the show visit TVSA's Hex mini-site.


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