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Paloma Faith: The singer and actress on pregnancy body doubles and playing a sociopath

Written by on 19 February 2021

Paloma Faith is already known for her music, distinctive style and honest musings on pregnancy – but with crime drama Pennyworth, she has taken on the world of acting as well.

The show, which is set in an alternative London of the 50s and 60s, is about the early life of Alfred Pennyworth, the character who goes on to become Batman’s butler.

Faith plays sadistic sociopath Bet Sykes in the series, with season two about to air following its launch in 2019. While the star has had guest roles on projects before, she says Pennyworth has been a brilliant way to really kick off her career in front of the camera.

Paloma Faith in Pennyworth. Pic: Lionsgate/Starzplay Image: Paloma Faith stars in Batman origin story series Pennyworth. Pic: Lionsgate/Starzplay Jack Bannon plays Alfred Pennyworth in Pennyworth. Pic: Lionsgate/Starzplay Image: Jack Bannon plays Alfred Pennyworth. Pic: Lionsgate/Starzplay

“I feel like I’ve learnt everything that I know about acting on the show,” she tells Sky News’ Backstage podcast.

“Especially in season two, there’s a lot more depth of character to Bet Sykes in the sense that I have to play a lot more emotional moments, vulnerability and show affection, which I didn’t do so much in the first season.

“I feel like it’s been a real education for me and I’m really excited about the future. I enjoy the job a lot, I get a lot from it.”

Faith, who is due to welcome her second child and has been keeping a very frank and open pregnancy diary on social media, says filming while expecting was a new challenge.

“Learning how to act [while] pregnant with about four body doubles at times was quite funny,” she says. “I feel like this character’s so multifaceted that I couldn’t have wanted for a better person to play for my first big role – and I just want to do more.”

Production for Pennyworth was shut down early in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but started up again in August.

Faith says the return to filming was made much easier because it was the second series, so the cast already knew one another.

Paloma Faith at the Brit Awards in 2020 Image: Faith, pictured at the Brit Awards in 2020, is best known for her music

“I’m so glad that we had the grounding because it didn’t really matter to us that we had the masks on, we were just so grateful to be back,” she says.

“We really like each other on this production so it was nice to get on set and have all the ice broken already because we knew each other. Actually, we were just sort of grateful because of what was happening in the rest of the country and the world to even be able to leave home and go and do a job, basically.

“So I think everyone was like, I don’t care what the restrictions are, I’ll follow them as long as I can work, and I feel like you will see when you watch the show that a lot of love and a lot of passion has gone into it, people have gone the extra mile just motivated by their gratitude.”

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Unlike Londoner Faith, Bet Sykes is from the North of England, and the character gets many of the best lines in the programme.

“Every time we get given a script, it’s just full of brilliant, sarcastic, dry humour and it’s just like a perfect observation of northern British culture, I think,” Faith says – adding that Polly Walker, who plays her sister in the show, makes sure she gets it right.

Walker, she says, is “absolutely brilliant and is a northerner, so anything that’s like a little bit off, she always goes, ‘No, we wouldn’t say that!’

“She makes sure it’s right.”

Series two of Pennyworth starts on Starzplay on 28 February. Hear our review on the latest episode of Backstage, the weekly film and TV podcast from Sky News.

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