Stylist Interview: Eleanor Tomlinson Talks About Getting Into Character For The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door: Eleanor Tomlinson reveals how she got into character for the “sext and addictive” new drama.

Add this to your must-watch list, sharpish: The Couple Next Door has all the sex, secrets and drama we’re after for an autumn sofa session. Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Evie, reveals all about her character, the process of filming and what makes the series such an “addictive” watch.

You might know Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza in Poldark or, if you have more classic tastes, as Jas from Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging. Maybe you watched her in The Nevers or The White Queen. Whichever one was your favourite, we can confidently say that you’ve never seen Tomlinson like this.

And by ‘this’, we mean as Evie in the new Channel 4 drama The Couple Next Door. It’s a role very different to those that Tomlinson is known for, not only because it’s not a period piece (no corsets here), but because it’s a dark, sexy psychological drama.

The six-part series, premiering on Channel 4, follows Evie (Tomlinson) and Pete (Alfred Enoch), a couple who move into a fancy new neighbourhood and quickly make friends with their neighbours (Jessica De Gouw) and Danny (Sam Heughan). That friendship slides into something… different when Evie discovers an attraction to Danny and Pete finds out that their neighbours have a very open relationship.

Things quickly get sexy, complicated and dangerous. There are guns, forests, a creepy neighbour watching Becka through a telescope, crime, secrets, lies, the lot. All in all, it’s a lot of drama and we are very excited to watch the whole thing in one sitting.

But what was it like for Tomlinson to film such a jam-packed series loaded with sex and violence? And how did she get immersed in the complex character of Evie?

“Evie is a complicated soul,” Tomlinson said. “She’s obviously going through significant grief and I think she’s stuck in a rut. She’s very curious about exploring herself and exploring boundaries, both with her friends and with her partner. She’s been with one guy for most of her life.


“As the series progresses, she finds her confidence, and Danny {Heughan} and Becka [De Gouw] bring her out of her shell and show her different routes, different possibilities. We worked on the characters’ relationships as a cast of four, so that the journey for each character was more complex.”

Despite the heaviness of the plot, filming the series ended up being one of the most fun jobs Tomlinson has ever done. “We had a real laugh making it,” she shared. “There are moments that are so tense and tough, but we as a five, including Dries, are just such good friends. It’s a gamble when you put together a cast, but Dries’s vision has paid off, and we’re firm friends because of it.”

A key player in that was Alfred Enoch, who plays Tomlinson’s on-screen partner. Tomlinson said: “He’s so intelligent and he really challenged me. All of our ‘at home’ scenes were piled into two weeks, which did actually help the stir-crazy feeling that the show needed. We knew Pete and Evie had been together since they were at university, so a real shorthand between the was important to us. We wanted the relationship to be completely believable, otherwise the series doesn’t work.


“Alfred is electric to play opposite because every take is different. If I was struggling with dialogue, I’d ask his opinion and we’d talk it through, sometimes for hours at a time, so that when we shot the scene, it was the best version and we were excited to get into it as we knew what we needed to achieve. I’ve not really experienced that before from another actor. I found myself wanting to not only be good for myself, the director and the show, but I found myself wanting Alfred’s approval at the end of those big scenes.”

There is, of course, another romantic pairing for the character of Evie in the for of Sam Heughan’s Danny. Heughan is also known for period drama – Outlander – and the duo quickly bonded over that experience. “I think that’s what was appealing about this project for both of us it was a chance to break out of the mould we’re most known for. It’s modern and it was a challenging leading role. Sam is now one of my best friends. Every day was a joy and creating Danny and Evie’s complicated and dangerous relationship was a lot of fun. It’s a real treat to work alongside such a supportive co-star, but to leave a job with a best friend is pretty rare.”


Yoga teacher Becka, played by Jessica De Gouw, completes the quartet. “Becka is the open door because she does what she wants to do and she’s confident in who she is,” Tomlinson explained, “She doesn’t care what people think of her. Initially, I think that’s quite scary for Evie because she’s never come across anyone quite like her. When Evie falls into a well of grief and despair, Becka is there offering her a way out and a good time, ultimately giving Evie the green light to go ahead and explore elements of herself, which is something she’s never allowed herself to do before. Becka is probably the most crucial character for my character.

“Jess is a fantastic actress and to play opposite and alongside her was really empowering. She is one of my greatest friends now and I speak to her nearly every day. We worked very hard to build a chemistry as we wanted the women to instigate the resulting relationships, as opposed to the men, as ultimately, it’s more interesting, less predictable and less from the male gaze. At the end of the day, your performance is always in the hands of an editor, but I’m proud of the work Jess and I did to create and flesh out the complex nature of our characters’ friendship.”


The end result of all that work is a series that Tomlinson describes as “addictive”. “The main theme of this show is the exploration of relationships and how claustrophobia can quickly set in,” she shared. “The neighbourhood is the perfect metaphor for that. Once you decide to break free from that, how quickly can you spiral? How far do you go?

“It’s certainly an enticing watch, I would say. I think it leaves you wanting more and there’s an addictive energy to the series. It’s very sexy. It draws people in because it dares to address the unknown and, for some, the taboo.”

The Couple Next Door starts on Channel 4 on Monday 27 November at 9pm. All episodes will be available to stream as a boxset.

Images: Channel 4

Original article at Stylist.

This article has been reproduced for archive purposes, all rights remain with the originating website.

Author: Cider

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