Lara Pulver (‘Spooks’: Series 10) interview

Lara Pulver (True Blood, Robin Hood) joins the cast of Spooks as new Section D leader, Erin Watts, as the spy drama returns for a tenth and final series this weekend.

Episode 1 airs at 9pm on Sunday 18th September on BBC One.

CultBox caught up with Lara recently to find out more…

Were you excited to join the cast of Spooks?

“Yeah, very excited. It was a nice surprise at the start of this year. I was coming back to London to meet for another project and the casting directors were like ‘oh, Lara’s in town, could she come in?’ and very kindly they fitted me in.

“So I met Chris Fry, the producer, and the director of the first block and then got the call saying ‘yep, the part’s yours, the BBC want you to come on board’ and flew that night from Los Angeles, arrived the next day and we had the table-read for the first episode!”

Had you been a fan of the show before you got the part?

“Yeah, I’d watched a couple of the early series then missed a few as I was doing some theatre work. Then Richard Armitage, who I played opposite in Robin Hood, joined Spooks whilst we were wrapping on Robin Hood so I saw a little bit of his introduction to the show too.”

Can you tell us a bit about your character Erin Watts and what attracted you to the role?

“Erin has kinda been fast-tracked into a very big role for someone her age, becoming Chief of Section D at MI5. She’s young, she’s feisty, she’s got something to prove… but she has a maturity and a delicacy with the matters she’s handling that makes her really good at her job.”

After Lucas’s betrayal last season, do the team have some trust issues with Erin taking over?

“Yeah, I think there’s some nervousness at the start, especially with what Harry’s going through, but I think with the nature of the job everything happens so fast-paced that we don’t have a choice but to collaborate and work together. We very quickly all get involved with each other, which was great for me and great for the character.”

Erin’s a single mother; do we see much of the domestic side of her character?

“Yeah, it’s actually a bit of a reveal at the end of the first episode that she’s a mum, then we kinda explore the dilemmas that it puts upon her through the series. We actually do that with all the characters this year, especially Harry’s character, looking at the conflict between work and what morally and dutifully you should do and can do.”

Is that conflict a big theme this series then?

“Yeah, I’d say so. There’s also a strong theme of us building a relationship with Russia and how that affects our relationship with America… politics!”

Is there a particular arc over the whole series or are there standalone stories each week?

“There’s a big broad stroke throughout the series with some storylines going over more than one episode and some self-contained. It all varies. It’s all to fulfil a big finale at the end of the series.”

It’s the tenth year of Spooks, is there anything special to mark this?

“Me joining the show! No, I’m sure everyone’s extremely proud that the show has lasted this long and that there’s still a huge demand from the fans for Spooks. I felt very proud and privileged to be joining the team.”

Following the likes of Keeley Hawes and Hermione Norris, Spooks has a history of really strong female characters. What sets Erin apart from the show’s previous female leads?

“I think she’s slightly younger and perhaps more inexperienced in the field, so she’s got a lot to prove. Also with her having a daughter as well, that brings another aspect to her. And there’s a possible love interest as well!”

Geoffrey Streatfeild is joining the cast too, what was it like being the two newbies on set?

“It was quite seamless to be honest. Nicola and Peter and Max and Shazad were very generous and welcoming to us. Both characters were written really well to seamlessly join the show so we both felt very comfortable and got stuck in quite quickly.

“Actually, coming to the fourth or fifth episode, we were like ‘it’s a shame we can’t do eight episodes this year’, but I think it’s for the better of the show that we just did six.”

Do you know at what stage it was decided to only do six episodes this year?

“I think it was quite early on. I guess, with pushing the boundaries each episode effectively making each one like a little film… They’re expensive to make and I don’t think they wanted to compromise on the quality of their product, so I think what’s why they went ahead and did that.”

Did you get to perform many stunts or action scenes?

“Yeah, it was quite high adrenalin stuff. Lots of car chases and bombs – everything you would expect and lots of running in heels for me!”

Do you enjoy the more physical side of filming?

“Yeah, I really enjoyed it. I think it was a huge part of Erin’s character so I didn’t shy away from it in any way. Coming from a theatre background I’m pretty physical anyway so it felt good to step up!”

Was there a particular stunt that was your favourite?

“There’s some great ones towards the end of the series that are really exciting. I’ve got a Walther PPK in my hand, I felt like the female James Bond!”

> Order the Series 10 boxset on Amazon.

Watch the Series 10 trailer…