What was the Lip Service casting process like for you? It was really lengthy, the process began back in July and each audition was really testing.
The first call back was three hours long and I had to read with lots of other people. Then I was in a play in London and the entire production staff of Kudos and the BBC execs all came to see it which was the most nerve-wracking night of my life. Were you always reading for Tess and why did you want to play her? I was actually the last of the three main girls to be cast.
I loved the script from the beginning and I really identified with Tess. How did working in television compare with theatre?
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It was a whole different ball game doing television and it took some getting used to. I have done television before but nothing as big and certainly nothing as important to me.
I fell in love with Tess and so it was important for me to do her justice. The show's grey and drizzly Glasgow setting differentiates it from The L Word's sunny Californian sheen as does its sense of humour. And unlike its Los Angeles cousin, it's not driven by issues: It operates on the basis that gay women being gay isn't really a story at all, but that love and heartbreak, friendship and betrayal, crap jobs and worse bosses happen to everyone, even though the sex bits might not always be the same.
There's a mystery to unravel, lots of lounging around in bars and warehouse flats, and enough full-on sex to get it a Writer Harriet Braun, who cut her teeth on dotcom drama Attachments and later Mistresses , had the idea for the show three years ago. I thought I'd love to do something like that. Though she admits that The L Word "paved the way", she thinks a Lip Service-style show wasn't possible until now because there wasn't anyone around with the knowhow.
She reels off a checklist of her ambitions for Lip Service: I thought it was high time we had some on our screens. I wanted to show characters who happen to be gay, but their sexuality is completely part of their lives. I also wanted it to feel very real. And funny; some of our most painful moments tend to be the most absurd, and retrospectively, very funny.
But the heart of the show is the swaggering Frankie, who kicks off the series by returning from her hipster photographer life in New York to deal with a family death, encountering still-bruised ex Cat Laura Fraser , sleazy best mate Jay Emun Elliott and many conquests along the way. The first episode does little more than set her up as the Moody One, though the subsequent story takes the show in a more mysterious and thoughtful direction.
Braun says she had assumed casting Frankie would be difficult. A few days later, we meet Gedmintas in a posh central London hotel and recount Braun's tale.
Her biggest role up until that point had been Elizabeth Blount in The Tudors she's currently on a break from filming in Budapest, where she's squeezing into another corset for Showtime's series The Borgias. Ruta thought it might be a stretch, then, to imagine her as a scruffy lady lothario.
Plus, at the time, I had this big, long, glamorous blonde hair. I went into the audition straight off a plane, tired from a horror film I'd been making, like, 'OK, whatever, I'll just do it. The Lip Service shoot took place over "three or four months" in Glasgow last winter, and for Gedmintas it was an intense experience.
So if you're like me, you'll so want to know and spend time with those characters that you'll keep watching. Becky 6 episodes, I left drama school three years ago and I focused more on theatre than television. I did find the show titillating as its creators intended — "let's excite our gay audience in a way that also excites straight viewers" — but I see that as a way to introduce the idea of shows like this, so that women in relationships that exclude men — even when they aren't gorgeous and in their 20s and 30s — can become accepted and included more often in mainstream shows over time. It was a whole different ball game doing television and it took some getting used to. We wanted to get it right: Though she admits that The L Word "paved the way", she thinks a Lip Service-style show wasn't possible until now because there wasn't anyone around with the knowhow.
I had to call up my mum and say, 'Can you talk to me like a human being? She must have risked hypothermia, because there's a lot of sex in the show, and lucky Frankie gets most of it.