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Interview: Hermione Norris

24th January 2011

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Hermione Norris plays Stella Isen, Head of Protection and Security, in Forthaven on planet Carpathia. She has sacrificed everything for the chance to save the world.

Hermione NorrisHow would you describe your character?
Well, I have to say that Stella is a maternal presence on Carpathia, the moral compass, the person that people look to for guidance.

What attracted you to the role, and what did you think when you first read the script?
I just thought it was a very bold concept – life on a new planet. I was looking forward to playing a character where I could explore all the issues of a society rebuilding itself.

This group of people have found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, what has been Stella's response to it?
I think that her major responsibility is to ensure human life continues on Carpathia and to research and explore the resources on the planet to ensure their survival.

What would you say Stella's biggest challenge has been so far?
Her biggest challenge so far has been not knowing what has happened to her husband and daughter.

Can you say a little bit about the life Stella has left behind?
She's left behind a small child and a husband who she loved very much. She's left human relationships and those dear to her.

What is Stella's journey throughout the series?
I think it's just trying to stay on course as a moral compass for Tate, and for the citizens of Carpathia, as they struggle to do the right thing to ensure their survival.

How would you describe the landscape of Carpathia and Forthaven?
Rich and varied. Most of the life and the city is built from this shuttle that landed, and life has sprung up from there. The expeditionaries are still sent out to research and explore the resources on the planet, so they're finding new things all the time and it is an endless, ongoing journey.

What is the planet like? What is daily life are like on Carpathia?
Stella's a very busy woman! There are routines and there is some discipline but you still have some of the same pleasures you would have on Earth, so people still drink and have fun.

Is there anything in particular from Earth that Stella misses – apart from her husband and her daughter?
I don't think so – I think she's completely absorbed with them and where they are. I think it's all the memories.

Each person on Carpathia was chosen for a particular reason, or a skill that they have. Can you divulge what Stella's skill was?
She's a scientist.

How was it filming in South Africa?
I think South Africa has the most amazing landscape I've ever seen and ever experienced. The experience on set was magical, it was a wonderful adventure.

Had you ever been there before?
No, I had never been to South Africa before.

What were the highlights for you?
I loved working for Kudos and obviously the BBC, I was excited about doing a project that I thought was bold and a risk. I enjoy a challenge and I'm pleased to be a part of that. Also just experiencing the landscape in Africa was a huge privilege.

The scenario that they find themselves in – having to leave Earth and find themselves a new planet to populate, is not necessarily so far-fetched, as Stephen Hawking and other experts have recently stated. When you were filming Outcasts, did it make you think that this is something that could happen in the future?
After five years of Spooks, it was uncanny how Kudos would come up with story lines that then came to light within the time that the shows were then shown. It did make me slightly nervous when Ben (Richards) at the press launch mentioned Stephen Hawking's comments, as I hadn't heard about it and made me think – blimey!

So if you, as Hermione Norris, were chosen to go to another planet, what three things would you take with you?
My family and water – that would be enough! No possessions – I don't really care about possessions.

Is there anything that you would want to leave behind?
I don't know – I love life on Earth, I just love our planet and so no, I'd be very sad to leave.

What would your ideal planet look like, and have to offer?
Light, lots of light if possible, lush – it doesn't have to be hot, but just bright, light and lush – lots of green.

So all of those chosen for Carpathia had a special skill. In real life, what would your special skill be?
I'm quite calm – I stay quite calm in most situations!

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