'Skins' stars talk about the show's return
Six years after reinventing the ‘yoof’ drama, ‘Skins’ bids farewell. Kaya Scodelario, Hannah Murray and Jack O'Connell tell us what to expect
Mon Jun 24 2013
© Gary Maclennan
Effy Stonem, fragile tearaway-cum-femme fatale with a history of depression, 2007-10
Why is your episode called ‘Skins Fire’?
‘In my mind, it’s Effy’s burning desire to get on in life, to get a career and make something of herself.’
It sounds like she’s stuck and needs an escape.
‘Yeah – over the last few series it’s always been about getting Effy’s head above water. Now, it’s a different circumstance: she’s been through school and university and is entering the world of work, which is very different and has its own challenges. It’s also about friendship and life, and the things you hang on to and the things you need to let go.’
Is it fair to say that she’s not entirely over some of the demons from previous series?
‘Definitely – it’s impossible to think someone would just get over that, but this isn’t focused on her mental health any more, which I found really interesting. It’s about her as a person. Those demons she had have been focused into her work world. So she’s becoming obsessive and compulsive over something else now.’
© Gary Maclennan
We know Lily Loveless is back – any other familiar faces?
‘Yes – Katherine Prescott, playing Emily, pops in and out as well.’
Did it take you long to get back under Effy’s skin?
‘Not at all! I started panicking, thinking it’s been four years, such a long time ago! So I started rewatching the old series and, once I got to series three, I thought ‘“I’ve got her now – she’s in there somewhere, I just need to let her back out.”’
Was it weird watching it back?
‘Really weird – we’d forgotten what had happened, story-wise. For us, it was more looking back on series and remembering when someone farted or something. So watching it and taking out our personal experiences was really strange.’
Any reservations about going back?
‘Yeah – she was such an important character for me, and so loved and cared for by the fans that I didn’t want to do it half-heartedly, for the sake of E4 bringing in a few more viewers. I wanted to be sure they’d write an interesting story about her, and they did. There aren’t a lot of programmes focused on young women going through the transition from being a teenager to an adult – it’s such a confusing, difficult time and something I’m going through myself. I really wanted to explore it through a character to help my own development.’
'It was more looking back on series and remembering when someone farted'
What did you think of Effy when you first got the part, compared to how you look at her now?
‘When I first played Effy, I was only 14 – I was just grateful to have a job! And I still am grateful to be in employment. A lot of my friends are finding it very tough out there at the moment. Effy’s always been the other side of me, the braver, more outgoing side that I’ve never really had. It’s been cool to watch her grow and progress.’
Having done a few bigger budget films and period dramas, did it feel odd coming back?
‘Not at all. “Skins” has always been about telling stories, and the way it’s focused on young people hasn’t really been done before. The industry and a lot of young people owe a lot to “Skins”, for showing that and making it acceptable. So many great TV shows are doing it now, and it’s not thought of as dangerous or scary.’
Did you realise when you were filming the show that it would be this influential – the idea of a “Skins” generation and so on?
‘No, not at all. None of us did, which was the beautiful thing about us. We were a bunch of kids they picked up and gave this opportunity to. None of us were actors, there was no jealousy or rivalry, we were all just friends. So we thought, even if nothing comes out of it, we’ve had the best summer of our lives.’
© Gary Maclennan
Favourite memories of the show?
‘It was like my university, it’s given me life experience. The best parts were going back to the apartment and having dinner together, or having a drink and talking about all the stuff that teenagers talk about.’
Do you still see each other?
‘Yeah, we do. Lily’s one of my best friends, I meet up with the first and second generations a lot.’
It must be amazing to see everyone’s careers going in different directions.
‘Yeah, we’re really supportive of each other and genuinely happy for each other. You don’t get that with many casts. I love seeing Nic [Hoult] on the side of buses.’
Did you know Effy had the potential to break out after the first two series?
‘No, not at all. After the second one, we’d just got told it wasn’t coming back and my mum told me they’d called to say they were casting me as the lead in the third series. I was like, “Mum, you don’t have to say that to make me happy!” And I got into an argument with her, because I thought she was just trying to cheer me up. I didn’t really believe it was happening until I turned up to audition people for the third series!’
It’s always looked like a gruelling role to play.
‘Yeah, but I like being pushed. Young actresses need those parts, and that’s why I wanted to return to “Skins”. It’s very rare for a TV show to give a young actress two hours to tell a story.’
'I didn’t really believe it was happening until I turned up to audition people for the third series!'
Was she a character you could learn from in the way she lived her life?
‘Yeah – I got to rebel through her so I didn’t fuck my own life up! [laughs] I got to see how things could go and decide for myself that I didn’t want that. I’d rather keep things steady and focus on my career. “Skins” was never preachy, it never moralised. It just showed the different parts of being a teenager and let you decide for yourself. People really responded to that. Hopefully, I’ve turned out okay.’
So it was a cathartic role?
Where do you see Effy in ten years time?
‘I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I like that she could go anywhere. You can’t put her in a box. She’s always going to shock you and do the opposite of what you expect.’
But if you got the call in ten years time, you’d be in?
‘Probably. I’d be tempted!’
‘Skins Fire’, Mon July 1 & July 8, 10pm, E4.
'Skins: series 7' and 'Skins: series 1-7' are available on DVD from August 12.