The actor answers your questions on working with Mike Leigh, starring in a New Order video and dressing as a giant Snoopy at Harrods
Each year I convince myself that you’re beneath one of the costumes on The Masked Singer, but I’m proved hopelessly wrong! Has your drama school holiday job – wearing a Snoopy costume in Harrods’ linen department – put you off? VerulamiumParkRanger
I have been offered The Masked Singer, but it’s not something I want to do. It’s not because of Snoopy, although that wasn’t a great experience. The associate director at Rada [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] was asked whether any of the students would be prepared to get into a Snoopy costume in the linen department during the Easter holidays. I don’t know why, but they asked me and I got the gig. I was at Rada with Imogen Stubbs, so she came into Harrods to see me. She looked at me and said: “Jane? Is that you inside that costume?” She was absolutely mortified. It was so hot in Harrods, and twice as hot inside the Snoopy outfit, but so cold outside that I ended up with glandular fever and missing half a term at Rada because of it.
How do you get in character to voice a chicken (Chicken Run), turkey (this year’s Peta [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] adverts) or duck (Garfield)? Ever worry you are being typecast as poultry? TopTramp
I guess I have a bit of a history voicing similar sorts of birds. They often send you the pictures first so you can get an idea of the character. Babs in Chicken Run has a very outstretched Wallace and Gromit-type mouth. Babs is such a large chicken, so I thought a sweet little voice would work well. For Tessa the turkey from the Peta campaign, I wanted more of a throaty, slightly jarring voice.
When did you discover you had an amazing voice? chargehand
From starting impersonations, really. My first impersonation was Julie Andrews when I got The Sound of Music album when I was nine. I fell in love with sounding like Julie. My mum and dad were massively into Shirley Bassey and I found I could impersonate her and Barbra Streisand. That’s when I started to realise that utilising my voice was going to be a good thing for me. It’s brought me a lot of pleasure, and I’ve made people laugh, which is great.
What was it like working with Nic Roeg and Anjelica Huston on [1990 Jim Henson Roald Dahl fantasy horror] The Witches, a far superior, nastier and funnier adaptation than the Anne Hathaway remake? Mesm and Roedelius
I loved it. I don’t think I realised at the time what a privilege it was to work with Nic Roeg. It was so well cast. The group cast to play the witches were absolutely crazy. I’d never worked with a group of actors like that before, or since. I used to live in Twickenham and went into the local fish shop where this very eccentric and extraordinarily dressed woman said: “Hello, Jane.” I thought: “How on earth do I know this woman?” She said: “We were in Witches together.” I thought: “Yep. Stands to reason.”Continue reading