Aisling Franciosi, the Dublin beauty and star of The Fall has kept us on the edge of our seats every Sunday evening for weeks now as Jamie Dornan’s babysitter Katie Benedetto. She caught up with IMAGE daily team to tell us about moving to London, getting career advice from Gabriel Byrne and having to spit on Jamie Dornan…
When you read the script for The Fall originally, did you have a feeling that it would be as successful as it has been?
There was a definite buzz about it for sure. When you read a script you kind of think, ‘oh, that’s OK’ but when I read the script for The Fall I just thought, ‘no, no, this one’s mine, I want this one!” There was definitely something different about the script. And it wasn’t even just the script, it was just so clever and slick and stylish. But you can never know how it going to go down with an audience so obviously we knew that the scripts were good and everything like that but I certainly didn’t know it would become as successful as it did. Then when I saw the script for season two, I was just over the moon to have an even bigger role.
Now we know you probably get asked this all of the time, but what is it really like working with Jamie Dornan, please tell us he’s nothing like his character in real life!?
No not at all, he’s so, so lovely. He’s so down to earth and has a really good sense of humour and he’s so self-deprecating! It just makes it so much easier to work with someone when you know they don’t take themselves seriously. We had a few scenes that were kind of tough so having someone that you get one well with, and is really caring and supportive is really helpful in that situation. And apart from that, he always gave a performance even when the camera wasn’t on him, which helps the whole scene and gives you something better to act off. He’s a very giving, supportive actor.
Was there a big difference for the cast after he had filmed 50 Shades?
Obviously when we did season one, he hadn’t done 50 Shades of Grey yet. People were just stopping him for photos an awful lot and hanging around waiting to see him. Even on Twitter people were like, ‘I think that there’s some filming going on, maybe Jamie’s down there’ which is just crazy! It just shows how much things can change in a year, you know? But he deserves all the success that he gets because he is such a great actor. I’ve said it before but I’m protective of him in a way in the sense that he gets so objectified because obviously he’s very good looking but first and foremost he’s a really talented actor.
And tell us about that scene in episode three…
eah, my brother was like, “you’re breaking Twitter!” I knew that people would kind of react to that a bit obviously because it’s very sensitive material obviously if you look at it. I mean she’s a 16 year old girl and he’s a serial killer. But I felt totally safe doing it, everyone was very respectful. And as I said, Jamie and I get on very well anyway and we can trust each other.
The hardest bit of that whole scene was actually having to spit on him! I actually went into the corridor and was trying to practice spitting. Whatever about spitting when you’re brushing your teeth or something, but I actually don’t spit… So one of the notes I got from the director was, “we’re going to need more spit, just you know, really hawk up”. And I was like, ‘I actually can’t do that, you’re asking me to spit on Jamie’s face, this is so gross!’.
What’s been the most challenging part about playing Katie?
She’s really interesting because she’s so headstrong in so many ways but really, really vulnerable as well. For me it was kind of getting the balance between the fact that she’s clearly had tragedy in her life and is very impressionable and it coming from a believable place that she’s so infatuated and obsessed with Spector. I wanted to be as realistic as possible. I did a lot of research and the truth is that a lot of murderers who are in prison in the states have young wives so it does happen.
What can we expect for the rest of the series of The Fall?
When I was doing some voiceover stuff for it re-recording a few lines, I saw them mixing the sound on Episode Six, the final episode. I have to say I was watching it on the edge of my seat, I was so excited! And that’s with me already knowing what’s happens! There are a few things coming up that will literally just shock people. You won’t expect some of the things that happen at all…
What advice would you give other young Irish actresses looking to make a name for themselves like you have?
Well, I feel like I’m only starting to learn my way around the industry but I think you need to remember that there’s no one way of getting into it. I went to university and then got experience in the theatre and slowly managed to get myself an agent. I’d say you have to be resilient and you have to know yourself. You need to be tough because a lot of doubt will creep in because there’s a lot of rejection obviously. No matter how good you are, for a million and one reasons you could be the best person in the room and still not get the part because you’re too short, or they need this person or they need a name. You have to be a little bit tough skinned and determined and know not to take things too personally because at the end of the day, it’s not always really a personal decision.
You’ve recently moved to London, what’s the switch from Dublin been like for you?
It’s a much, much, much bigger pond, which in many ways is great but it’s also more of a challenge. You’re sitting in a room sometimes with actresses thinking, ‘what the hell? How am I ever going to compete with her, you know?’ It does mean that sometimes you’re up against more international or well-known names, which can be a bit daunting because it adds an extra layer of difficulty of actually getting that part. Having said that, there’s so much work and a lot of really interesting stuff happening over there.
Do you feel that young actors really have to move to London in order to make it big, is it just that there’s not as many opportunities in Ireland?
I don’t think it’s that. Here we have a few homegrown dramas that are amazing, with Love/Hate being an obvious example. I just hope that that proves to people like RTE that if you put the money in, it really pays off. Like we don’t necessarily need international dramas to get the Irish public watching TV. We have so much talent here in writing, directing and acting. But I think unfortunately when a lot of the bigger shows come to Ireland they bring with them a lot of their own talent and they don’t necessarily hire the Irish actors. I think sometimes it’s worth going away for a while to let people know you’re available for work!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To thy own self be true. When I worked with Gabriel Byrne and started doing press for Quirke, I was getting really nervous because I thought, ‘what if I don’t get this across, what if I don’t get that across?’ And he just said, “you know what? You just have to say what you have to say and know that everything you’re saying is true and honest and then the rest of it is out of your hands, and the thing is you can’t actually do anything about it.” Sometimes I need to remind myself of it because it’s hard to get annoyed at things that are out of your control. Know yourself because there are a lot of people who are going to try and pull you down or twist your words and at the end of the day you’ve no control over it.
Who in the industry would you love to work with?
Oh my God, so, so many! Here at home I’d love to work with Lenny Abrahamson. Then internationally I’d love to work with PT Anderson, the Coen Brothers. I love Tilda Swinton, Sam Rockwell. And as much as I love doing my Irish parts, I would love to play English characters or American characters and I’d love to work in foreign film, for obvious reasons. (Aisling is fluent in four languages)… I’m kind of hoping to break into that actually.
What kind of projects do you have coming up in 2015?
Well because I’ve been spoiled so far with the work that I’ve got to do, I’m kind of a little picky. Just because I know the feeling of what it feels like to work on something you’re really 100% committed to. So there are a few interesting projects that I’ve been looking at the scripts for and I might head to the states in February maybe and go to LA and have a few meetings there…
The Fall is on Sundays on RTE 1 at 9.30pm.
Image from The Fall via RTE.
Hannah Popham @HannahPopham
This article was originally published on December 7th, 2014