This Is England’s Jo Hartley reveals advice Ricky Gervais gave her ahead of her latest film

Virgin Radio

9 May 2024, 11:39

Jo Hartley and Ricky Gervais

Credit: BBC/Rex

Jo Hartley has revealed the great piece of advice she received from her former co-star Ricky Gervais.

The This Is England actor starred alongside Gervais in his The Office spin-off feature film, David Brent: Life on the Road.

Speaking on the Countdown to the BAFTAs TV Awards podcast, Hartley explained how she asked the comedian for advice ahead of taking on her first lead role in the mockumentary Swede Caroline.

“They offered me [the lead] - they wrote it for me… it was a mockumentary, so it was a totally different technique [to what I’d done before],” Hartley admitted. “I said to [Ricky] ‘How am I going to do this?’ and he just said “Be yourself. And don’t try to be funny.’”

Hartley admitted taking on the role felt like a “great risk” at the time as she would be working on a project unlike anything she’d taken on before plus working with two new filmmakers. “But I kind of intuitively knew these guys were really talented,” she explained. 

Plus, the actress celebrated how she was able to take more control over her role in the film, explaining: “I asked them could I exec produce [the film] as well so I could help cast it and be over the edit.”

Also on the BAFTA podcast, Hartley opened up about her “terrifying” but “absolute gift” of an experience stepping into her role as Katrina in BBC Three’s In My Skin

“That was a terrifying role for me because it was like, ‘How am I ever going to be able to play someone with bipolar?' I had to use different means like mimicry, music, intuition, life experience and outside things…

“It was a terrifying job but an absolute gift as an actress,” she shared. “That was the first time I kind of went method, a bit ‘Jo Day Lewis’! I didn’t speak to anyone and I stayed in character and I had music on - but I did come out of character when I left set.”

The 2024 BAFTA TV Awards with P&O Cruises will take place on Sunday 12 May, and air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from 7pm.