Conversations With Friends Jemima Kirke details hardest thing Ive done on series

Conversations With Friends BBC Three trailer

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After Normal People took locked down viewers by storm during the earlier parts of the Covid pandemic, the creators of the Sally Rooney-inspired series have reteamed for BBC Three and Hulu’s long-awaited follow-up. This time, Sex Education star Jemima Kirke stars opposite newcomer Alison Oliver, and she recently revealed filming the series featured one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do in front of the camera.

Jemima and her co-stars Alison and Sasha Lane were made to swim in the freezing Irish Sea for a short yet memorable sequence in the new series.

Poetry enthusiasts and ex-girlfriends Frances (Oliver) and Bobbi (Lane) fall in with Jemima’s successful writer Melissa Conway when she attends one of their open-mic nights.

Their friendship soon threatens to come apart at the seams when Frances begins a secret affair with Melissa’s husband, Nick (Joe Alwyn).

Before their illicit liaisons begin, however, Melissa takes the girls under her wing and initiates them with a quick dip in the ocean.

Sasha recalled: “It was freezing, and people tell us, ‘It’s good for you and it’s good for your muscles and your energy’.

An irritated Jemima quickly interrupted her co-star and asked: “Who cares?”

At the series’ premiere in London, the cast told Express.co.uk and other press about being directed by filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson for the bone-chilling scene.

“You’re meant to go in for 30 seconds or a minute,” Sasha explained.

“We’re filming, so that means Lenny’s like, ‘Can you give me 10 more minutes?’ And I’m doggy-paddling, I can’t last that long.”

Jemima was clearly more shaken by the ordeal and admitted she was dreading filming the scene as soon as she signed on.

“It was something I was obsessed with from the moment we started shooting,” she said.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it, that we were going to be doing this.

“I asked questions every day like, ‘When are we going to do it? Do you think it’s going to get cut? Will we wear wetsuits?’

“No wetsuits. Nothing. It was the hardest that I’ve ever had to do on screen.”

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Sadly, the actresses had to wear regular swimming costumes whilst filming in the chilly Dublin Bay in April last year.

“It wasn’t that long,” Jemima admitted, though Sasha insisted they were in the water for much longer than would be comfortable.

She exclaimed: “Like 15 minutes! I timed it by how tired my arms were getting.”

Jemima clarified: “15 minutes?” To which Sasha confirmed: “It was like 15-20 minutes.”

Director Leanne Welham then told the actresses: “I do want to apologise because it’s not in the book!”

Jemima also revealed the rehearsals for the scenes were just as harrowing as the freezing water they had to endure during filming itself.

“What was really adding insult to injury was a week or two before we were asked to practice,” she recalled. “And to go into the water in Belfast, which was worse.

“It wasn’t practice, it was to see if we could swim. And I just thought, ‘There’s not even a f*****g camera in the water’.

“So I got in, I dunked in and got out, and the stunt coordinator came and got me and said I had to get back in. Which was even worse, he basically dragged me in there. It was mortifying. You girls were great with that rehearsal.”

Thankfully, all three actresses survived the icy waters, while their co-star Joe was lucky enough to remain high and dry throughout the entire filming process.

Conversations With Friends premieres Sunday, May 15 on BBC Three and Hulu.

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