Did you catch the first episode of Then You Run on Sky last night? (If not, you can– and should – catch up on NOW.) The series follows a close-knit group of rebellious teenagers who flee London for Rotterdam. But, after a traumatic complication, they find themselves on the run across Europe with deadly criminals snapping at their heels. The girl at the centre of it all is Tara, played by Leah McNamara, whose criminal family history haunts the teens. We sat down with Leah to chat about the new series.
Interview: Leah McNamara On Starring In Then You Run
Hi Leah, how’s life going at the moment?
Hello! Life is great at the moment, summer is finally here and the weather has just been glorious. Happy vibes all round.
You’re currently starring in Then You Run – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show?
Then You Run is a darkly comic, coming of age, psychological thriller that follows four best friends from London. What starts out as a fun getaway to Rotterdam, quickly turns to a thrilling road trip with the girls on the run from some of Europe’s most dangerous gangsters.
You play Tara – can you describe her?
Tara is the stoic, inscrutable and deeply complex leader of the group. She is resourceful, intelligent, quick thinking and at times very volatile. She has dealt with a lot of trauma in her life and, throughout the series, we see her struggle to keep a lid on the emotional turmoil that bubbles beneath her surface. She goes on a tumultuous journey of self discovery with the highest stakes imaginable.
What was it like playing her?
Tara was a really exciting character to play. Her psyche is quite disturbed, and it was definitely a challenge to maintain such a dark mindset over the course of filming. At the same time, it was a really rewarding experience as an actor as there was so much to sink my teeth into. I also enjoy playing characters who don’t speak a lot as you have to tell the story with your eyes as opposed to relying on text.
It’s based on Zoran Drvenkar’s thriller novel, You – did you read it? What did you think?
I read the book out of complete curiosity; it’s a brilliant, thrilling read and, while there is some overlap, the show is quite different. There is some great imagery in there and I was able to pick and choose from the elements of the book I felt could serve my understanding of Tara and the world of our show.
How did you get into character/prepare for the role?
I spent a lot of time reading the scripts as well as simply sitting and thinking deeply about Tara and her life. I did research on the specific types of trauma she has experienced and how they can impact the mental development of a young person. I also worked with an incredible dialect coach, Gerry Grennell, who helped me to understand the specifics around the sound of the modern London accent [Leah is Irish]. Spending time with the girls who all grew up in London was also invaluable to me to absorb that sound and culture.
Any standout moments from rehearsals or filming?
There is a really amazing car chase sequence that we got to watch in real-time, which was such a cool experience. I won’t give any spoilers away, but it’s epic!
What is the cast dynamic like?
The cast dynamic was so much fun. Everyone was so supportive of one another and always made sure to give 110 percent to their scene partners. We all felt so lucky to be working on such brilliant and exciting scripts.
Are you still in touch with any of your co-stars?
Yes! Myself and the three girls were so close during filming and we have really maintained those friendships. We get to hang out a lot as we all live in London and the WhatsApp group is very active. Darren Cahill [who plays Darian] and I go way back to our Vikings days, so he is an old friend of mine.
You’ve also starred in the likes of Normal People and Dublin Murders – what has been your favourite project to date?
Rosalind [in The Dublin Murders] was definitely so much fun to play – the villains always are! As an overall project, however, I would have to say Then You Run. I have honestly never seen a show like it – it’s so original and highly entertaining. I am so excited for everyone to see it!
Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)
I am thrilled to be filming Guy Ritchie’s upcoming Netflix series, The Gentlemen, as well as the new Hellboy film, Hellboy: The Crooked Man.
Which character that you have played in the past do you relate to the most in your own life?
The majority of characters I have ever played are really different to me as a person. I love the transformative process as an actor.
Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past?
I have been so fortunate to work with so many talented actors throughout my career that it’s hard to pick just one!
Which co-star did you learn the most from?
Famke Janssen who plays Dagmar in Then You Run. She is the ultimate professional and it was such a privilege to work with such an experienced, kind and talented actress. She’s an icon!
What’s your dream role?
I want to do every kind of role imaginable. I guess I haven’t gotten the chance to play a romantic character in a beautiful love story, so I would love to do that next, as well as something really comedic, and a period piece! Someone recently told me I should play Jane Bennett?!
What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?
Comedy, for sure.
Do you get to spend much time at home?
I do! Thankfully, Ireland is a short flight away, and I have been lucky to film a lot of projects there, which means I can spend quality time with my family and closest friends.
Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?
I currently live in London Town, which is really fun and happening, but I definitely prefer the peace and quiet of the country.
What’s your relationship with social media like?
I try not to spend too much time on there, but it is definitely a useful tool for work. You can make instantaneous connections with other creators and share in other people’s talents and art on a global platform.
How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?
I hang out with my friends, catch up with family, sit in the park in the sun, read books, listen to a lot of music and dance around the place! Going out for a really nice brunch is one of my favourite things to do.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A singer and then an actress.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
It’s all going to work out, I promise.
How can we all live a little bit better?
Put the screens away, get outside and be kind to one another.
I’m tuning into… London summer!
What I’m reading… Vogue always, and Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton (I am a bit late to the party on that one!)
The last thing I watched was… Succession, wow!
What I’m most looking forward to seeing… The Zone of Interest
Favourite film of all time… Too many! But, on the top of my head as I rewatched it recently, The Departed
Band/singer I always have on repeat… Santan Dave and Sza
My ultimate cultural recommendation… Getting out to any of the incredible art exhibitions London has to offer. I recently went to Beyond the Streets in the Saatchi gallery and it was fantastic.
Cultural guilty pleasure… Going to a great street market and getting lots of yummy food – but I don’t feel guilty about that!
What’s next for me is… Taking it a day at a time and enjoying the ride.
Then You Run airs on Fridays at 9pm on Sky Max. Catch up on NOW.