Interview with Nicola Walker who plays Emma in Marriage

Hi Nicola. Can you tell us about the process of Marriage?

It takes a lot of work to make it look as natural as it does, and Stefan makes sure we repeat it all. The dialogue is connected to simple everyday actions. There are times we have laughed a lot off camera when I’ve made about 30 sandwiches for one scene and boiled the kettle 28 times but they are simple actions you do every day… it’s all in the detail, it’s very revealing. Those mundane everyday details!

What has it been like working with Stefan?

The best thing for me has been having a writer and director. You make choices in certain scenes which you think are the right thing, but when you have Stefan there he will offer you something else. There have been times after a take when Stefan has given me a note, saying how that way or that take was much better – that has been really joyful.

Tell us about the rehearsal process.

We got to rehearse for a week before we started shooting, which is unusual for TV as you don’t get to do that anymore. It was invaluable and we were in a tent with Stefan to be Covid safe! We got to go through every single page of each episode so we were already ahead before we started. We got to ask all the stupid questions with Stefan instead of doing that on the day in front of all the crew.

What’s it been like working with Sean?

It’s been very easy being married to Sean Bean for 27 years on this!

Tell us about the situation with Jamie, Emma’s colleague?

I think it’s hard to describe the situation with Jamie. Ian is suspicious of Emma’s young boss at work but it’s compounded by him recently leaving his job and there’s lots of things going on, including losing his parents. What Emma feels about Jamie is very complicated and it’s a big storyline in the show, but Ian is paranoid and suspicious about him.

Tell us about Emma’s father, Gerry.

We had James Bolam playing Emma’s father and we spent a week with him, which was an absolute pleasure. I felt a bit tearful on his last day. It was all quite intense and he’s an incredible actor. It put us to shame on a basic level, in terms of line learning, as he was all over the script. I loved every second of it and Ian’s relationship with him is brilliantly spiky, like a lot of those in-law relationships! With Emma’s father you initially think he’s very different to her, but as the show goes on I certainly think you see the similarities and inherited learnt behaviours between the father and the daughter.

Do you have any memorable moments from set?

My most memorable scene was applying cream to Sean Bean’s thigh area. It was a beautiful moment and one that I never expected, as Ian had a nasty rash! It was a tremendous day in my professional career. Luckily it was in a tasteful position for camera!

Why should people watch Marriage?

There are revelations and Ian is pushed to certain behaviours by the end. There are quite volcanic moments for both of them. I want people to love it as much as we do really.

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