When Jenna Coleman appears on-screen for our Zoom call she is all smiles and profuse apologies - her internet connection dropped out and she has just reappeared. The Blackpool-born actor is fresh from her first major dose of Netflix fame. The Serpent - an eight-part series centred on 1970s French serial killer Charles Sobhraj and his French-Canadian partner Marie-Andrée Leclerc - first aired on BBC1 in January and became an even bigger hit when it was made available to Netflix subscribers back in April. For those who have already binge-watched The Serpent and are on the lookout for another Coleman fix, rejoice. Jenna is back on television as the star of the Boots Christmas 2021 campaign - scroll down to watch it in full and just see if it doesn't spark in you the first stirrings of festive cheer. Jenna will also be making a return to Netflix as Johanna Constantine in the hotly anticipated comic-inspired series The Sandman, opposite Tom Sturridge. Jenna is bound to secrecy on this one but if the hype is any indication, it's set to be worth a watch. Jenna is more than happy to fill me in everything from her previous roles to her beauty favourites though, so as her window cleaners get to work outside - rather entertainingly they set up shop just as the interview starts and remain with us throughout - we get talking.
On The Women Jenna Has Portrayed To Date
'I have a strange sort of affinity with all the women that I've played. Time spent playing them is almost like time spent with these women for me. Thinking about each of these women now feels very much like looking at an old photograph, they've become a snapshot of my life. They represent where I was living, where I was personally and what was going on in my life when I was playing them. They each own a fragment of me in a way.' What attracts Jenna to the roles she takes on? 'I'm drawn to characters whose psychology is very different to mine. I like it when I have a nut to crack, something to try to get my head around and understand.'
On Playing Queen Victoria
'I've spent more time playing Victoria than any other character,' ITV's Victoria ran for three seasons, 'the character grew older and developed with time, she was always a really interesting role to revisit. There was so much material for research to enjoy too, reading her diaries meant I could get so close. It was a really fun time.'
Watch: The Boots 2021 Christmas Advert Starring Jenna Coleman
On Stepping Into The Shoes Of The Serpent's Marie-Andrée
'I definitely felt a huge amount of pressure, I was portraying a real person with real victims. We had a lot of people who knew Marie-Andrée and Charles Sobhraj visit the set too. It was a really strange feeling, knowing that these people were watching me recreate their memories.' Jenna is methodical in the lead-up to filming. 'What I tend to do is research as much as possible. I read old newspaper articles, diary entries and so on. Once I've done the bulk of the prep I set everything aside and concentrate on honouring the story and honouring the script, whilst being as truthful as possible.'
On True Crime Mania
'There's such an appetite for true crime at the moment and I find that so interesting. It's not something that I've ever massively been into but when I was first approached about The Serpent, when I saw the images and heard the story I was completely sucked in. It's dark, seductive and intoxicating. I think people get caught up in trying to understand, psychologically, how a human can do something so inhumane, and that's the hook.'
On The Importance Of Hair And Make-Up On Screen
'Hair and make-up is always such an important factor for me. I think anyone who underestimates the power of hair and make-up in this arena is extremely short-sighted. Hair and make-up go beyond the visual, as an actor they have such an impact on how you look and feel too. Hair and make-up make for this transformative experience that removes you from yourself and makes you feel so much more at-one with your character. I was watching Cruella only the other night and marvelling at the stylisation of that film, the hair and make-up creations were incredible. Even the tiniest hair or make-up detail can stir something in you as an actor.'
On Becoming The Serpent's Marie-Andrée
'The Serpent's Marie-Andrée is such a complicated character. Her journey and her arc are so interesting. She's constantly striving to be something or someone else and she's strategic about how she tries to be perceived. What she wore told us so much about her psychology. I remember speaking to the show's director Tom Shankland about her costume. He told me that he envisioned her being obsessed with French Vogue magazines and trying tirelessly to emulate what she saw on the pages. It was a very crafted look, but underneath those prints, scarves and sunglasses you've got this incredibly insecure person that has no idea who she really is.'
'We ended up styling Marie-Andrée as a dark-haired Brigitte Bardot. We wanted her to be visibly but subtly hiding behind fashion, so there's a lot of focus on large, dark sunglasses and that long fringe that often falls over her eyes. As the series moves on she begins to break down and we made that shift visible in her hair and make-up. We swept water over the eye make-up to make it look worn and dirty and her hair became less preened. There was so much to work with.'
On Her £30 Beauty Hero
'I usually like a very natural make-up look. I have used Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage Concealer, £30, on every single job that I've done. I use it as both a concealer and a foundation, not all over, just on the areas that I want a bit of coverage. I've used it for around seven to eight years.'
On Her Favourite Perfume
'At the moment Chanel Riviera Eau de Toilette 50ml, £73 is my everyday scent. It's very fresh and smells a little masculine too, which I like. I use a lot of Chanel make-up too. Eyeshadow wise I tend to stick to pinks and browns.'
On The Contents Of Her Bathroom Cabinet
'Hair-wise I'm using a Josh Wood Shampoo and Conditioner at the moment, I love his hair products. My skincare is made up of mostly Biologique Recherche - I discovered this brand just before filming for The Serpent started, it's incredible - and La Roche-Posay, which I find is great for sensitive skin. I use the La Roche Posay Tinted BB SPF50+, £17.50. I also use the Skyn Iceland eye masks. I get very dark circles and my face gets quite puffy in the morning, they're great to use on my under-eye area.'
On Early Beauty Memories
'Every Christmas eve my mum used to put those old sponge rollers through my hair, the ones you sleep in. I remember it being such a special occasion. I'd wake up with the curliest hair. Then there are embarrassing memories of experimenting with blue eyeshadow and the smell of L'Oreal Paris Elnett always takes me straight back to dance school and ballet class.'
'That's something that oscillates for me. I don't see-self worth as a destination that you arrive at and then stay at. Self-worth is something that is constantly challenged. It's definitely taken me a long time to feel more comfortable in my own skin, my own body, my opinions and trusting my instincts. I'm so impressed by Gen Z in that respect, there seem to be so many people finding their voice at such a young age, which is such a promising thing for the future. I think back to myself in my early 20s and I was nowhere near that stage of life, I took much longer to get there.'
On Christmas Traditions
'My favourite Christmas tradition involves my mum and I wrapping presents together on Christmas eve and drinking Baileys. I'm usually at my parents in the north but, for the first time ever, I might actually be hosting a London Christmas this year. My grandparents might be coming down, everyone.'
Shop: Some Of Jenna Coleman's Favourite Beauty Products
Jenna Coleman Beauty Favourites - Grazia 2021
'I have used Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage Concealer, £30, on every single job that I've done. I use it as both a concealer and a foundation, not all over, just on the areas that I want a bit of coverage. I've used it for around seven to eight years.' - Jenna Coleman.
'At the moment it's Chanel Riviera Eau de Toilette 50ml, £73. It's my everyday scent. It's a very fresh scent and it smells a little masculine too, which I like.' - Jenna Coleman.
'I like La Roche-Posay, which I find is great for sensitive skin. I use the La Roche Posay Tinted BB SPF50+, £17.50.' - Jenna Coleman.
'I also use the Skyn Iceland eye masks. I get very dark circles and lots of puffiness in the morning, and they're great to use on my under-eye area.' - Jenna Coleman.