The drama series Keeping Faith (available to stream at Acorn TV) follows Faith Howells (Eve Myles), a lawyer, wife and mother whose life was turned upside down by the sudden disappearance of her husband, Evan (Bradley Freegard, Myles’ real-life husband). Now eighteen months later and still navigating the aftermath of his betrayal, Faith takes on the case of a local farmer accused of murdering her husband in cold blood while working to find a balance between her business and her life with her family, protecting her children from her husband’s choices and figuring out just how much inner strength she truly has.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Eve Myles talked about why she wanted to be a part of this project, shooting the series back-to-back in both Welsh and English, wanting to ensure that she gave her all when performing in a language that she’d never spoken before, acting opposite her own husband, the thought put into her character’s wardrobe, and whether there could be a third season. She also talked about who she personally identifies with more – Faith Howells or her Torchwood character Gwen Cooper, what she’s looking for in projects and roles, and why she’s excited about her next role, in the upcoming TV series We Hunt Together.
Collider: From hearing you talk about this role, it sounds like this project and character came along at the perfect time for you. When you read Keeping Faith, what was it about Faith Howells that made you want to take this on?
EVE MYLES: It came to me at a time that’s a notoriously hard time for lead roles written for females, particularly back then. Now, there’s a really delightful change because there’s a lot of fantastic female leading roles. It’s still not enough, but it’s definitely an improvement. At the time, it was the story and her struggle. I’d only received the first two episodes, but when you get a script like that and you go, “I want to find out what happened,” it means that it’s working. She was also a very different type of character for me to play. Also, I was looking for a challenge, and it was in two languages. In one language, she would have been a challenge enough. In two languages, it was nigh on impossible, but I felt I had to prove that to myself, at that point in my career and my life. I’m glad I did.
I had never heard of that happening before, where you had to do the same series in two different languages. Is that something that’s fairly common? Why was that the case, with this series?
MYLES: This project had an awful lot of nos, and it took years and years and years to get this project off the ground because nobody could see any potential in it. I wasn’t there for that process. But the channel that could see this was a piece of gold was a channel called S4C, which is the Welsh channel in Wales. On that channel, everything is done in Welsh language, and they produce outstanding world-class drama. They’ve been doing bilingual drama for many, many years, which means that they film it in Welsh for their channel, and it would go out on their channel first, but it also would be filmed in English, so it could be sold to English channels, like BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, or whatever may be able to distribute it. So, it’s double the work, but it’s also double the achievement. I had never worked for the channel before, and at the ripe age of 38, I was very pleased to do so. They’ve got a great reputation for doing bilingual drama. I’ve never, ever been a part of that before. My husband has done many dramas with them before, but not me. It’s a huge learning curve. It was one of the other hardest things I’ve ever done.
Did it change your own acting process, at all, to have to find the emotion of the scenes while you’re also delivering dialogue in a language that you didn’t know, prior to this?
MYLES: Dear god, yes. It was not only just knowing your own lines in the language. I had to know what my fellow actor was saying to me, I had to understand what was going on in the scene, and I had to know when to interrupt because I needed the performance to be exactly the same as it would be in an English take. I didn’t want to give one language more than the other. The agreement with my producers was that, if it doesn’t sound like I’m Welsh and that I know what I’m doing, I could not possibly turn up on that set and not do a 100% job. There was no way I could do it. It had to sound absolutely bang-on, or I told them to count me out. So, I guess it was okay.
This is such a relatable story because this is just a normal woman who thinks she’s a happily married wife and mother, and she has a seemingly doting husband, before it all gets turned upside down. What was it like to have your own husband, Bradley Freegard, to play that dynamic with? Do you feel like that helped strengthen your performance, or did it ever make it weird to be playing that dynamic opposite him?
MYLES: If you can imagine shooting this drama, in one language, it would have been really pushed to fit in. The first season with eight episodes and this season with six episodes. There was a lot of homework that went into it, we know how many shots there were and how much time we had to shoot it, and we did not have enough time really to shoot this even in one language. So, when you do it two languages, all of that stuff goes out the window. You just get on that floor, you have no rehearsals, and you shoot it, so you don’t think about it. You just really go for it. You make sure that geographically or choreographically everybody knows where they’re going or where they’re going to be, so we don’t catch the boom, the light is in the right place, and we don’t catch a lamp, and all of that kind of stuff. We all worked like a massive ensemble. So, things like Brad being my husband, he’s so far removed from the character, and I’m so far removed from the character of Faith, that it’s almost like you just go in and get on with it. It’s like a drama exercise that you can’t possibly learn, expect, or prepare for. You just accept it and get on with it. There’s a lot of physical stuff between your characters in the first episode of Series 2, and our job was to make that look like it happened, there and then. It needed to look messy, scruffy, fragile and frightening, but to make it look like that, the amount of rehearsing that Brad and I went through, to get it to look that natural, and to be able to do it in Welsh and English, time and time and time again, the work was unbelievable amount. It’s choreographed within an inch of its life because nobody can get hurt. We didn’t want to hurt each other, but we also had another 80 days of filming to do, so it’s gotta be really practical. It’s a case of making sure you know your stuff. If you don’t know your stuff, I’ll know if you don’t know your stuff. You don’t want to be the person who doesn’t know their stuff.
Some of your fans on Twitter pointed out to me that you wear the same earrings throughout the season, and they wanted to know if there was a reason and a meaning behind that.
MYLES: There’s a reason and a meaning behind nearly every single thing that Faith wears. It’s become so questioned. Who would’ve thought earrings would be questioned? It warms my soul, to be honest with you. When I hear stuff like this, it makes me think that the detail that takes hours and hours and hours and hours out of my personal life, and out of my designer’s life, and out of my director’s life, with things like the earrings, or the color of a shoe or a shirt, and the hoodie having to be a particular kind of yellow. It’s all for a reason. We want to make the details pop. I didn’t want Faith to have a huge wardrobe. She has two or three suits, she has two pairs of shoes, and she has two coats. She’s a practical woman, and those earrings are smart for work, but they’re also practical with kids on her shoulders, and things like that. It’s also that Evan has landed them in a whole lot of, pardon my French, shit. So, it’s just her practical work wear. A lot of people have also tried to find out where we got them from. Everything is accessible with Faith. I think they’re from a store called Marks and Spencer, over here in the UK. There’s nothing mega expensive or not accessible. Whatever Faith wears, people can get ahold of. I like that.
There’s a feeling of conclusion to the season, but it also seems like there could be more story and more to explore with this character. Any chance of a third season? Would you like to continue to play this character?
MYLES: I have no idea if we’re going to go again, like we had no idea we were going to go again with the second season. I’m just really thankful and very grateful that we’ve gotten to make two seasons, and not only just make it, but we got to make it the way we wanted to make it. We were uncompromised making this, especially the second season. To be able to make drama, in this day and age, for primetime television that’s uncompromised, it’s unheard of. So, it was a really, humbling and grateful process. If we go ahead and do a third season, we absolutely know what the third season would entail. But, that’s because it’s a drama with such heart and driven characters. We could write for these characters for so many, many seasons. It’s a case of, if and when it’s warranted and if and when it gets greenlit, we’ll be ready. But, if we don’t, I think that we’ve done a pretty good job with what we had, in the first place.
I first became aware of you and your work with Torchwood, which I loved. What do you miss most about that series and about getting to inhabit with Gwen Cooper? Who do you personally identify with more – Faith or Gwen?
MYLES: Oh, that’s a good question. Faith is very much of my age now, and I get some of where Faith comes from. I find her very aspirational, I find her inspirational, in the way that she can forgive, I love the way that she helps people, I love how loyal she is and what a good friend she is, and her fight for justice. Her fight for justice is in her DNA, and that makes her a great mum, a great friend, a great wife, and an exceptional barrister. But saying that, with that comes massive faults, and I like Faith’s faults. It makes her human. She’s got a tremendous temper, but I love how she conceals that, far better than me. With Gwen Cooper, I played Gwen in my 20s. She’s got youth, feistiness, and an awful lot of attitude on her side. She was dealing with the supernatural and there were alien things to fix, whereas in Faith’s world, the monsters and the bad guys can’t be zapped with an alien mist. The bad people are us humans. That’s how I differentiate between the two of them. They’re very, very, very different characters. Gwen Cooper would never have the patience and the calmness that Faith has. Gwen would shoot the helicopter in the sky with a bazooka. They both have their place in their own little universe. God bless both of them.
After playing a character like Faith, what do you want from future projects? What are you looking to do next, as far as acting roles go?
MYLES: Well, the next one (We Hunt Together, about a mismatched detective duo on the trail of two murderers, for UKTV’s Alibi channel) is the kind of role that I went into acting for, in the first place, to be able to do. I can’t wait. I’m really, really looking forward to getting my teeth into it. It’s a far darker, grittier woman, who couldn’t be more different from Faith, if I tried. What I’ve always looked for, and shall continue looking for is good story, and for complicated women to speak to me. That’s what makes me excited. That’s what I keep looking for. I have to seek them out. Sometimes the imperfections are the perfections with some of these women, and I love that. I love hearing and seeing women on [television] that I know, or I’d like to know, or I’d like to be my friend, or I’d like to have in my corner. This new girl that I’ll be playing for the next few months, I’ve got no idea, at the moment, if I can do it, which is me, all over, really. I need to be scared. Genuinely, the scripts are masterpieces, and I cannot wait to get my teeth into it. When I was auditioning, I went back for the third or fourth audition, or whatever it was, and I said, “Listen, whatever happens, I wish you all the luck with the project, but please can I read the scripts, before it get filmed, because I need to know what happens here. This is keeping me awake at night.” So, it’s a good thing that I got it.
I still don’t know what happens, but it will be exciting. It’s really, really awesome to get the script and have something magical with them, and to have that opportunity to stop being apologetic about things and go for it. Forget what people are gonna say or think. Just stay true to how you feel this woman should think, breathe and react, and wear. It’s a lovely thing to be able to create. I get a lot of scripts. Sometimes they’re great to read, and I go, “Yeah, okay.” Now, I know that I’ve got to listen to myself and go, “Yeah, okay, but what difference does this make? What can I do with this?” Faith was one where I went, “I know what I’m going to do with this. I absolutely know what I’m going to do with this, and I’ve got the best person (Pip Broughton) to do this with.” I get nervous thinking about other projects that are not with Pip because she’s almost like the other half of my brain. We work so well together. Hopefully, we’ll get to do it again with a Season 3, but if we don’t, what I’ve learned from Pip, about playing Faith, and coming into this with confidence on the floor, after knock back after knock back, I just didn’t really know what the hell was going on, and slowly but surely, Faith has given me, pardon the pun, faith in what I’m doing again. She’s given me back my fight.
Keeping Faith is available to stream at Acorn TV.