Synnøve Karlsen on her Exciting New Role in 'The Midwich Cuckoos'
  • HOME

Synnøve Karlsen on her Exciting New Role in ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’

The actress shares what it was like to film the new horror-inspired drama

Our Beauty Editor Nathalie Eleni sits down with Synnøve Karlsen, one of the stars of Sky’s The Midwich Cuckoos, to chat about hero beauty products, dream roles and stories from the set of the new series.

Synnøve Karlsen on The Midwich Cuckoos

Synnøve Karlsen

Synnøve Karlsen

What can you tell us about The Midwich Cuckoos?

The Midwich Cuckoos is a novel by John Wyndham, which has been adapted into a television series David Farr (The Night Manager) for Sky. In our adaptation I play one of the women who falls pregnant after a blackout on the town. As these women give birth, Midwich begins to realise these children are unlike any other. My character Cassie is the daughter of our protagonist at the centre of the story, Dr Zellaby (Keeley Hawes).

Any funny stories from filming?

We filmed over the course of six months last year. It was such an ambitious project with a lot going on and all with the ongoing problems with COVID-19. It definitely wasn’t an easy production but it was made all the better by the amazing cast and crew I got to work with every day; the sense of humour never faltered, even through the hardest times and longest days. One memory that particularly stands out was that one of the crew members kept making badges with tag-lines or in-jokes and passed them out to everyone on set. I now have an immense collection of badges from our shoot with photos of crew members and tag-lines like ‘BEWARE… the rolling lunches’ or simply ‘CUCKOO! CUCKOO!’ It was a funny way for us all to feel like a big family, even when things got really tough.

Favourite person you’ve worked with on the show? 

I’m biased because I did most of my scenes with Keeley Hawes who plays my mum, as well as Billie Gadsdon and Indica Watson who both played my daughters. I particularly loved working with those three, but honestly the whole cast was wonderful. That’s the amazing thing about this project and this town, the community of characters and the interlinking stories, so it was brilliant getting to work with so many wonderful people.

Favourite role to date and why?

I think it would still have to be the first professional role I ever got as Holly in BBC3’s Clique. She will always have a special place in my heart because that role really kick-started my career, got me an agent and taught me so much about my craft and the kind of actor I wanted to be.

Role you’d cut your right arm off to get?

Playing Amy Winehouse in a biopic.

What demands do you have during filming?

As the filming day goes on the snacks lying around on set become more and more vital. The break-box on Midwich was always particularly good, with some real throwbacks like Wagon Wheels and Penguin Bars. If I can see a box full of biscuits in the corner of the room then I can relax knowing that the day will be okay.

What qualities do you think have made you successful?

I think I’m pretty hard working but also manage to not take myself too seriously. That’s gotten easier as I’ve been in the industry for longer but I think it’s definitely a good quality to have, and makes the more challenging times easier to take.

Film you think everyone in the world should see?

Wolf Rilla’s The Village of the Damned, an old adaptation of John Wyndham’s novel. I watched it prepping for Midwich and loved it. It’s a 60s horror-sci-fi and has some amazing cinematic parallels with our show. It’s pretty weird and is definitely of its time, but would highly recommend if you like old school horror and want to see a previous version of The Midwich Cuckoos.

What’s your relationship with social media like?

It’s gotten better over the years. When I’m working I try to delete it because I can find it pretty intense and anxiety provoking. It’s just about finding a balance really.

What did you want to be when you were a little girl?

I remember I was very fixated on the idea of having my own car wash when I was around nine. I made a laminated sign and put it at the end of my road advertising for a car wash in my driveway – my mum quickly took it down. I was obsessed with those squeegee things, I loved watching people use them at car washes or at the local swimming pool. So anything involving a car wash or a squeegee.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Stop worrying about what people think of you, you won’t care in five years time. And also stop spending all your money in Topshop.

The most challenging moment of your life?

About a year after I started working I really began to struggle with my mental health. I was struggling to balance things and took everything so seriously. I was getting up at 3am to go to work and after a while just stopped sleeping altogether. Those few months were definitely very hard for me, especially because on the outside I had everything I had been working so hard for and so it was difficult to figure out why I was feeling so awful. I was living abroad, working with new people on exciting projects, getting paid to do a job I loved. It was a really tough time but I was lucky to get the right help at the right time.

I needed to find a balance in my life and eventually realised I needed to have more control in saying when things were too much for me. Even just knowing that you have a choice in what you do and don’t do as an actor is empowering, for a long time I didn’t know how to put myself first and take time to just chill out and stop worrying about everything.

How can we all live a little bit better?

Going for a walk every morning, and planting something somewhere, even if it’s a pot on your windowsill.

What’s your interior design style?

At the moment I don’t have one. I am currently collecting random pieces of furniture or artwork that I hope to one day have in my own home, so fingers crossed in a couple years I will be able to tell you.

What are your indulgences?

Scented candles and any kind of beauty fad.

What would your best friend say about you?

That I’m always the last one awake at a party, but I’m also a nice person to spend one-on-one time with.

How do you relax?

Have a bath, light a nice candle and watch some rubbish TV.

If we’re coming to your area for a visit, what should we do and where should we go?

I live in London in a lovely little community near the canal. I would recommend a nice walk to Victoria Park along the canal with an iced coffee in the sunshine.

Are you a rule breaker or a rule taker?

I think I’m embracing the rule breaker side of me at the moment. But again I think it’s a balance.

Do you have a hero beauty product?

Hourglass Mascara, RMS Beauty Concealer and right now Rose INC Tinted Serum.

How do you look after your skin?

La Roche-Posay everything.


The Midwich Cuckoos is available on Sky Max and streaming service NOW.


Suspect’s Antonia Thomas on James Nesbitt and Peckham Hotspots