'It's A Fun, Psychological Game': Laura Carmichael's First Thriller Is This Must-See Aussie Series
Laura Carmichael is best known for playing Lady Edith on Downton Abbey, but her newest role sees her diving into a completely different world.
Carmichael stars in the intensely dark, yet addictive new series The Secrets She Keeps on 10, based on the best-selling novel written by author Michael Robotham.
She plays the seemingly meek supermarket worker, Agatha, who is going through her first pregnancy alone while her husband is away serving in the Navy.
It's clear from the beginning that Aggie's having a tough time, and very easy to see why she engages in a little voyeurism via the gorgeous, carefree mummy blogger Meghan (Jessica De Gouw).
But as the show's name suggests, there's a lot more going on in Aggie and Meghan's lives than we see at first glance, with both women busily treading water to keep afloat of all the secrets they're obscuring from their loved ones.
Speaking to 10 daily on the phone from her home in London, Carmichael said she was "delighted to be part of such a gripping story".
"I mean, I love this genre, I was really looking for something like this," she said.
"It really places the thriller element on something that is so female, that’s the catalyst for the darkness and the heaviness," she added.
The "thriller element" has given us the opportunity to see Carmichael inhabit a completely different world, far away from the country manors and royal courts her characters normally find themselves in.
"This is definitely the biggest project from that genre [psychological thriller], it was a real, sort of fun world to escape to something that’s completely different." Carmichael told 10 daily.
"To play something that is very dark and modern is really fun and really different from the period dramas that I’ve been doing, which is not just Downton but I’ve also been on The Spanish Princess which is another sort of Tudor drama," she added.
Carmichael explained that while The Secrets She Keeps takes place worlds away from Downton Abbey, there are still some qualities that Aggie shares with Downton's perennial underdog, Lady Edith.
"There’s kind of an incredible kind of resilience to her, she had a lot of hard stuff happen in her life but she's very tenacious that she keeps going and wanting to love and have this perfect life.
"So I think that I had a lot of sympathy for her," Carmichael said. "It’s a lot to hold onto [keeping track of lies] and I think Agatha, she’s doing a lot of juggling to get to where she wants to be. In that way, you can really sympathise."
The dual nature of Aggie's personality also allowed the actor to play the part of someone who's entire life is a performance.
"It’s so fun to play… to delve into this genre where you’re an actress playing someone who’s keen to show other sides of themselves and the choices she makes to reveal that to people.
"Where’s the truth? What’s her truth and how much does she believe herself?It’s a fun psychological game," she said.
Exploring a whole new, exciting genre wasn't the only first for Carmichael in signing up for The Secrets She Keeps, the series was also the first time she's been part of a production in Australia.
"We did lots of things in different suburbs of Sydney but I spent time in the Blue Mountains as well," she said.
"I just couldn’t really get over how beautiful Australia is… every day I was just constantly going, ‘I can’t believe this, it's so stunning," she laughed.
While the novel is based in the UK, the TV series has been shot entirely in NSW with the iconic Long Gully Bridge in Northbridge and locations in Katoomba popping up on screen.
"I think it really worked with the story," Carmichael told 10 daily of the Australian adaptation.
"Even in terms of the different areas of Sydney, from Megan’s house to Agatha’s house, we really did a good tour of Sydney and shot in lots of different locations," she said.
The Secrets She Keeps are a timely reminder, especially as we retreat to our phones more than usual, that not everything is as it seems.
"I think there’s a lot of stuff in it about the perfect life, the Instagram mum and the pressures that we feel and how, someone who we see as quite vulnerable, like Agatha, has the potential to be someone quite dangerous."