Jessica De Gouw has starred in the recent hit series Dracula in two separate parts, and we got the chance to chat to the rising star about her role on the show, chemistry with other cast members including Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and just what drew her to taking part in the series.
For those who haven't yet seen Dracula, can you tell us a little bit about it and the characters you play?
Dracula is the re imagining of Bram Stoker's classic tale by NBC and Carnival. Set in Victorian London, the series follows many of the original characters, but in this version we had ten hours of television to tell a much more detailed story, and to really explore the complex relationships, old and new.
I play Mina Murray, and Ilona, Dracula's great love from centuries before, who we see in flashbacks.
What is it about the show that drew you to take part?
When I heard that Dracula was being made into a series by NBC and Carnival, I couldn't resist. I knew they would do something interesting with it. A period drama with a supernatural twist, seemed like a whole lot of fun.
Did you feel pressure being part of something based on such an iconic story?
I never really felt the pressure of playing an pre-existing character, because I knew i would make it my own, and an audience would either like it or not. My job is to make a choice and commit to it, that's all I can do.
I knew the show had to offer something different in order to find an audience, but I always knew it was in safe hands.
How did you find the experience of stepping into the role of Mina Murray and Ilona?
Mina Murray was always very easy for me. I just felt like I understood her, in this version that is. I never loved Mina in the original text, I always wanted her to be stronger, more independent. But the Mina I get to play is a very driven, determined young woman who is really experiencing the world for the first time. Love, lust, loss.. She goes on such a journey.
We see much less of Ilona, there just wasn't time to explore as much of that character, but in the original scripts she is a lot of fun. Really fiery- She was definitely Vlad's equal.
How do they stack up against other characters you've portrayed?
I've been fortunate enough to have recently been allowed to play some amazing characters... And they are all so different. I went from The Huntress to Mina Murray and then straight on to an incredible indie film in Australia called Cut Snake, which is set in the 70's. I love each of them, but particularly because of their differences. I'm never bored.
What was the chemistry like on-set when filming the series?
I walked into a chemistry read in London with Katie and Ollie and we were giggling within seconds of knowing each other. That never stopped through the whole shoot. I've never had such fun. All the giggling with Mina and Lucy, it's because we couldn't help ourselves. And Mina and Harker fighting was always heartbreaking. I was always apologizing for all the dirty looks I had to give Ollie.. And then we'd shake it off and be back to goofing around.
And how can you not have chemistry with Johnny. Look at the man. He is so sweet, you can't help but swoon.
How did this show differ to others you've done, if at all?
I hadn't done something of this scale before. Everything about the show is so extravagant and rich and dramatic. I just had to remember to play what was truthful for my character, and hope she didn't get lost underneath the gowns and hats. In the end, it's the characters and their stories that people relate to and love, I just had to hold on to that.. And learn to breathe through corsets. That's a whole lot of pain for a couple of weeks. Then it becomes a whole lot of fun.
Did you enjoy the experience of wearing 1881-based costumes on for the show?
Annie Symon's costumes were some of the most beautiful I've ever worn. And the costumes evolved along with the characters. They weren't strictly period either, they were a hybrid of styles from the 1880's to the 1950's. We broke a lot of rules, but that's what gave the show such a unique look.
Do you have any other projects coming up you might want to share some details about?
I just wrapped a film in Australia in December called Cut Snake, and it was with one of my favourite Australian directors, Tony Ayres. I'm pretty excited about that one. And I have a film coming out mid year, These Final Hours, which I just saw back in Australia. I'm really proud of that one.
The first season of hit series Dracula is to be released on DVD on February 10.
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