Interview: Leanne Best Keeps The “Home Fires” Burning In ITV Drama & Chats About Working With Bryan Cranston In Upcoming Film “The Infiltrator”
British actress Leanne Best, known for her role as Jane Cobden in BBC drama Ripper Street, currently appears in six-part ITV series Home Fires. She chats about her TV and film work including upcoming movie The Infiltrator alongside Bryan Cranston and Diane Kruger.
British actress Leanne Best might not be a household name right now but the talented performer’s star is on the rise. Fresh from unsettling nerves as the ghost in The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death she’s been appearing in popular six-part ITV drama Home Fires. Set in England during World War II, the series follows a group of inspirational women as they band together to maintain a sense of normalcy despite the horrors occurring overseas.
Best plays Teresa Fenchurch, a city girl who comes to the Cheshire countryside to take up a position as the village school’s new teacher. As the series goes on we learn it was more than the war that made her leave home as her past catches up with her.
Born in The Beatles’ home city of Liverpool, Best describes the series as being about “ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances” who try to “keep going while everything around them is changing at a terrifying pace.” Importantly, its focus on what was happening at home, particularly for the wives, girlfriends, mothers and daughters left behind by the men fighting on the front lines, delivers strong female role models that attracted Best to the part.
Specifically, she says, it was interesting getting to know how the Women’s Institute played such a significant role. “I was aware of it as an institution but researching for the series, which included reading Julie Summers’ book Jambusters on which the series is based, I was educated in just how integral it was to the fabric of the war effort providing vital support, information and practical help in desperate times. Clever, brave women indeed.”
She feels audiences will relate to the characters’ plights in a way that makes their courage a timeless commodity. “It’s a beautifully written drama with real heart,” she says. “I think that’s its strength.”
It’s all go for Best at the moment. While audiences will still be having nightmares about her appearance in the sequel to James Watkin’s The Woman in Black, most will know her as Jane Cobden from the BBC’s award winning Ripper Street II and III. She’s also just completed a very successful run on stage in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita at the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre after having been handpicked by the playwright himself. Meanwhile, many fans of Nordic drama Fortitude will have noticed her appearance as Celia Donnelly in the popular mystery series.
Best says she’s not surprised by the reaction the show got. “Such a stunning cast, great storytelling and Iceland was beautiful! I had a lovely time on the job and I’m thrilled it’s been so well received.”
She’s just finished filming The Infiltrator, a true story of FBI agents who infiltrated a major drugs cartel in the 1980s, alongside Bryan Cranston and Diana Kruger. Working with the Breaking Bad star was a real treat, she tells me.
“Bryan Cranston was every bit as brilliant as I hoped he would be; such a generous, lovely man to work with. We improvised a lot and had a lot of fun with the scenes. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. I was so excited to work with him and I wasn’t disappointed.
“We had a good chat about acting and he was just so cool about the work and the business and what’s important. I really hoped he’d be a legend and he absolutely was!”
Next up for Best is a trip to Belfast to film Line of Duty before shooting begins on a one-off Sky Arts drama. The rest of the year is going to be a busy time for the Liverpudlian. “I just want to keep working with great people and enjoying what comes along,” she says.