'In My Skin': Meet Gabrielle Creevy, Jo Hartley and the cast of the BAFTA-winning show for best TV drama
For a project that was this personal, Kayleigh Llewellyn was very particular about the casting and how the actors took on the central roles. Meet the cast of this dark comedy that mines real life
'In My Skin' was born out of screenwriter Kayleigh Llewellyn's desperation. About three years ago, she was broke and had experienced the death of six people in her family. Unable to write, she turned to a charity for subsistence for a few months when she received another blow -- news of another failed project. So in late 2017, she did something she would never have done were she not so desperate.
She wrote a one-page treatment based on her own childhood memories taking care of her mother while trying to behave normally at school. After emailing it to several producers, she panicked. “Within about an hour, I had that feeling of regret, thinking: ‘Oh my God, I’ve exposed myself so much’,” said Llewellyn about the inception of the 'In My Skin' TV series.
To her, the story was a reflection on how she felt in her teen years -- of "deep shame to be from a lower class, Welsh family living with mental illness”. Llewellyn wanted to show a real Welsh town, where the gorgeous landscapes contrast sharply with the poorer neighborhoods with gritty bylanes and trash piling up in some corners.
Unlike shows, like 'Sex Education', which depict a fantasy "Americanized" Wales, Llewellyn shot the series in Cardiff, Wales, a few streets from where she grew up. The stylistic and personal risks paid off after the series scooped up the BAFTA for 'Best TV Drama' award. For a project that was this personal, Llewellyn was very particular about the casting and how the actors took on the central roles. Meet the cast of this dark comedy that mines real life.
Gabrielle Creevy as Bethan Gwyndaf
Sixteen-year-old Bethan Gwyndaf, the series lead, is played by Gabrielle Creevy. The character is based on Llewellyn's teenage self. Llewellyn, being lesbian herself, wanted the character's coming of age story to reflect the confusion she felt during her teenage years. In the series, Bethan is also hiding a huge secret from her friends – that her mother Katrina aka "Trina" suffers from bipolar disorder and has been sectioned in a mental facility. Gabrielle Creevy won the 'Best Actress' at the Cymry BAFTA for her portrayal of Bethan. Creevy described the win as unexpected because she didn't imagine that industry recognition would come so soon. Before 'In My Skin', she had appeared in one episode of the British TV series 'Father Brown'. In 2021, she will appear in the UK comedy film 'I'm Not in Love'.
Jo Hartley as Trina, Bethan's mother
Kayleigh Llewellyn wanted to keep some distance from the project so that she could preserve the universality of the story she was telling. So she never let Jo Hartley, the actor who played Trina, meet her own mother, or even see her picture. Instead, Jo Hartley drew on the script and her own research about hypomania and living with a bipolar disorder. Hartley dove into the character, using every tool available to her, from hair and make-up to music to enter her headspace. Before arriving on set, she also did her research by speaking to experts and Llewellyn herself, watched movies and Youtube clips and observed real-life behavior. She asked a friend who suffers from the disorder for help and spent time with her. She also worked out a 'mania scale' with the series' director -- between one to five -- to represent levels of mania or hypomania for individual scenes. Hartley has previously appeared in several British television series such as 'This is England', 'Not Safe For Work', 'After Life', and 'Bliss', as well as in films like 'The Young Victoria', 'Eddie the Eagle', 'Slaughterhouse Rulez', and 'Torvill and Dean'.
Rhodri Meilir as Dilwyn, Bethan's father
Dilwyn, Bethan's alcoholic father is played by Rhodri Meilir, who described the character as a "charismatic, cruel chameleon". A Hell's Angel biker who drinks non-stop, Dilwyn also encourages Trina to drink and is zero help when it comes to taking care of her and teenage Bethan. In fact, he contributes to Bethan's unstable home life and Bethan is scared of leaving her mother alone with him. To help build the hostility between Dilwyn and Bethan, Meilir was asked not to interact with Gabrielle Creevy when off the set. Meilir is best known for his role as Alfie Butts in the BBC sitcom 'My Family' and for starring in the film 'Pride'. He has also appeared in a number of popular television shows such as 'Afterlife' and Terry Pratchett's 'Hogfather' on Sky One, and TV series like 'Hidden' and 'Doctor Who'.
Poppy Lee Friar as Lydia, Bethan's best friend
Lydia, played by Poppy Lee Friar, has known Bethan since childhood and has always been around. But even she doesn't know Bethan's secret. A bit of a party girl, Lydia is always getting into trouble and needs either Bethan or Travis to reign her in. Poppy Lee Friar is an actress and writer and is known for films like 'My Cousin Rachel', 'Ackley Bridge' and 'Mr. Selfridge'.
James Wilbraham as Travis, Bethan's high school friend
James Wilbraham plays Travis, Bethan's more mature friend, who rounds off the gang of three (with Bethan and Lydia) who face high school together. According to Wilbraham, his character considers Bethan as his closest friend in the whole world and Creevy, who plays Bethan, also stated that Travis is probably the only friend she would talk to about her home life voluntarily. James Wilbraham has previously appeared in the BBC Wales soap 'Pobol y Cwm' as Chester and in the TV series 'Ordinary Lies'.
Zadeiah Campbell-Davies as Poppy
Bethan's classmate Poppy is the most popular girl in school and comes from a well-off middle-class home. Her life is something Bethan both craves and envies. Bethan also has a crush on Poppy and wants to become her new bestie. Campbell-Davies has appeared in several high profile projects like 'Emerald City' (NBC), directed by Tarsem Singh, and 'The Bastard Executioner' for FOX TV.
'In My Skin' premieres on Hulu on July 30.