Lorraine Bruce on Making TV in the U.S. and the U.K.

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Sept. 24 2013 12:12 PM

Lorraine Bruce on Making TV in the U.S. and the U.K.

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Lorraine Bruce was on The Syndicate, a U.K. show, and is now on the ABC remake, Lucky 7.

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Lucky 7, a new ABC drama premiering tonight at 10 p.m., tells the story of seven gas-station employees from Queens, N.Y., who share a huge lottery win. It’s based on The Syndicate, a British series, and one original U.K. cast member, Lorraine Bruce, has come to America to reprise a version of her role. I spoke with her at the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles this August.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

Slate: What are some of the differences between working on a series in the U.K. and here in America?

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Lorraine Bruce: Well, we’re working on more episodes. In the U.K. we had five; in the U.S. version we’ve got a longer span to play with, so we can go into more detail with the storyline. There are seven people in this; in The Syndicate there were five. But other than that I would say that things are very similar. I mean, actors are actors, grips are grips, carpenters are carpenters. We work long days, we try and do something beautiful that people will enjoy, and then we go home and fall into bed. On this show, my driver’s Martin from Toronto, but he could just easily be Phil from Huddersfield.

Slate: Just in terms of the system, you had to do a pilot so that Lucky 7 could get picked up by ABC. That doesn’t happen in the U.K.

Bruce: Yeah, no pilot there. The writer, Kay Mellor, is a very well-established drama writer in the U.K. She’s an amazing woman. She writes, she produces, she also directs, and she does it all with this wonderful, warm, Northern, inclusive, matriarchal strength. She’s well-known, so she’ll go, “I’ve got an idea,” and the BBC will say, “OK. Write it.”

Slate: Tell me about your character.

Bruce: In Britain, Denise is a lovely lady who lives in Leeds and works in a small supermarket. In the U.S. version, Denise is still a lovely lady, but now she lives in Queens, and she works in a gas station. In both instances we meet this woman at a time when she’s about to step into her own personal joy. She’s been living her life not for who she is but for who she thinks someone else wants her to be. She feels very unloved, but she’s actually very lovable. And when we meet her, all of this is about to change. It’s not really about the lottery win; but at the same time that this huge personal, emotional change begins, she also happens to win a vast amount of money on the lottery.

Slate: What kinds of roles have you played in Britain?

Bruce: I’ve played loads and loads and loads of different things. I am really of the old school of character acting. I don’t have a lot of personal ego attached to what I look like when I’m in a role, so it’s my pleasure to snaffle up those roles that perhaps other people might be a little bit wary of.

This interview has been edited and condensed.