Downton Abbey fans know and love her as Lady Edith, but Laura Carmichael has been building a formidable credit list via shows such as Marcella and The Spanish Princess. Now, she has transformed herself into an emotionally unhinged stalker for Network Ten Australia’s drama The Secrets She Keeps.

The Secrets She Keeps, a six-part contemporary thriller based on Michael Robotham’s acclaimed novel and shot in Sydney, tells the story of two women who have a chance encounter in a supermarket in an affluent Sydney suburb. They are the same age, both pregnant and due at the same time. But while Meghan (played by Jessica De Gouw) is a glamorous online influencer, Carmichael’s Agatha is a poverty-stricken loner who is estranged from her mother and has an unhealthy interest in Meghan’s life.

Speaking to MIPCOM News, Carmichael said she was attracted by the opportunity to play a character “who is so obsessed with another person. But I was also fascinated by the fact that the story plays out between two pregnant women. It was intriguing to see how the desire to be a mother could lead someone to do some dark and dangerous things.”

The seemingly perfect Meghan has her own secrets, but Agatha is clearly the villain of the story. However, Carmichael was keen to add dimension to the role: “The fun of being an actor is the detective work you get to do. Agatha is clearly the instigator of a lot of pain, but it’s my job to find out why she is doing these things. She comes from such a rough and violent place that inevitably you develop some sympathy for what she is going through.”

Being on Downton for so long was “real education in production”, said Carmichael, but she enjoyed the process of building a psychological thriller. “I loved the edgy scripts and learned a lot from the director about the way a single look could build the tension.”

Filming such a dark story so far from home was nerve-wracking, she admitted, until the crew made her feel at home. But at least there wasn’t much risk of being mistaken for Lady Edith. “Someone at a yoga class asked me if we had gone to school together, but that was the only possible connection.” The Secrets She Keeps is distributed at MIPCOM by DCD Rights.

This is an extract from the MIPCOM News Issue 2; full version online here!

About Author

Julian Newby is editor in chief of MIP Publications, namely the MIPTV/MIPCOM Previews, daily News magazines and supplements. He is also co-founder of Boutique Editions, a UK-based publishing and design house providing products and services for the international film, TV and creative communities.

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