Few avid fans will have forgotten actress Jan Anderson who played popular nurse Chloe Hill between Series 13 and 16. Jan’s character enjoyed a number of storylines during her stint on the show including a love triangle between Sean and best friend Tina, which ended in Chloe aborting his baby, and her exit which saw Chloe flee the country to be with her dodgy dealing boyfriend Jason (played by Lost actor Henry Ian Cusack). Currently Welsh-born Jan lives and continues to work as an actress in LA and she kindly took time out to speak to holby.tv…
You’re currently living in LA, when did you move out there and what made you decide to move to America?
I moved out to LA two years ago, but before that I was living in Canada for a year doing some theatre. I had always wanted to give it a go in the States and after I finished filming ‘Harry on the
Boat’ in Spain, I had got the travel bug again and knew it was the right time. I had been filming non stop in the UK for 8 years and it was time to become a gypsy again and go explore the world and look for new exciting adventures!!
How does LA compare to living in the UK?
LA is dramaticlly different than UK, eventhough the industry is so much more competitive and saturated here, the lifestyle is so much more relaxed and open – anything is possible here. It is
the land of creativity and dreams and has a perfect mix of buzzing city life with nature and spirituality. I have never been so happy as I am here and personally I have grown into a deeper, more centered human being which has made me a better actress on many levels. The only thing that LA is missing is Welsh men!
It’s been five years since you appeared in CASUALTY, do you have fond memories of your time on the show?
My memories on CASUALTY are irreplaceable – I am so grateful for that job. Not only did I learn so much as an actress, but I was blessed to work with some of the most genuine, loving, fun
people I have ever met. I am still good friends with so many of the cast and it really was like a big tight family, everyone – the crew the extras, the directors, producers. We all hung out like a big
happy family. So much happened to me personally and profesionally whilst on that show, it was a huge turning point in my life.
What were some of your favourite storylines of playing nurse Chloe?
My favourite storylines playing Chloe were ofcourse the ‘scandal’ ones! From getting pregnant by my best friend’s boyfriend to running off with Jason, my bad-boy boyfriend, after the police were chasing me, then getting on the aeroplane to Miami with a fake ID! Although that was my leaving storyline, it was soooo emotional – I was puffy faced every day on that shoot!
Have you ever watched any episodes of the show since leaving?
No I haven’t watched any episodes since I’ve left – it would make me too sad!
Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast that you worked on in CASUALTY?
I am still very close to Zita (Anna), Martina (Comfort), Donna Alexander (Penny) and Henry Ian Cusack (Jason). Him and I see each other all the time, as he is now on ‘Lost’ which is soooooo amazing. I am so proud of him, he’s a fantastic actor and I loved working with him.
What acting roles have you appeared in over in America?
My first year here I was full on in acting school, I studied with all the top teachers in LA and really got a renewed passion and intensity for acting again. I needed to stretch myself and go
deep into the madnesss of being an actor. After all the years of working, I needed to grow and challenge myself.
So about a year ago I began to start to work here – a lot of independent films, a series called ‘Sam has 7 Friends’, an ER spin off series, some theatre/ commercials – the whole jobbing actor thing!! The great thing about working over here is that I have got to play such a wide range, from Russian crack hoare to mid American house wife, to Spanish, Italian – no one knows where I’m from, they only know what you give them, so it’s like a playground – everyday taking on a different character.
No one typecasts me as the gobby Welsh girl anymore (although I must admit most characters I do end up playing are feisty lil’ minxys!), I love it!
What acting projects are you currently working on?
I currently just finished a comedy series by the producer of Naked Guns/ Airplane movies, Jerry Zucker – a Jane Austin spin-off, really crazy stuff.
What advice would you give for aspiring young actors?
Advice for anyone who is thinking of becoming an actor is -if there is anything else in the world you can do that makes you happy then do it! Acting is a fierce and vulnerable profession and you have to have such a tough skin and love it more than breathing to stick with it.
2% of all actors actually make a living from it, so if you are sure in your heart that it is THE only thing that can make you happy, then don’t die with your music still inside you – go for it and give it all you got!
Break all the rules and have fun, acting isn’t about fame and glamour, it’s about being open and vulnerable enough to go to any and every emotion on the huge scale of humanity. The more you study people and live life to the full, the closer you’ll become to being a successful actor.
Who or what inspired you to become an actress?
When I was 9, I joined a drama group called Vagabond Children’s Theatre in Pyle, Wales, and a wonderful man called Trevor Harris was the teacher, who sadly passed away a few years back – he brought out the overdramatic monster in me! He inspired me and gave me confidence, I think acting is good for all kids as it makes them free and gives them an outlet for all their emotions.
Then I was fortunate enough to have another amazing mentor, Roger Burnell, in my high school. He was the guru drama teacher/personal therapist to all the misfits and thesbians, of which category I fell into! He nurtured and supported me, without him I wouldn’t have even gone to school!
Because of these two men, my life path was set in stone, they were my inspiration.
Which actors/ actresses do you admire?
Actors I love are obviously Meryl Streep, Sean Penn, Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Jaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and not forgetting the wonderful Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders!
If you hadn’t become an actress, which job do you think you’d be doing instead?
There is no other job I can even remotely think of doing apart from acting. Acting is the only job that I would do for free and that doesn’t feel like work. Maybe I could be a painter/artist – that’s about it.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I like to dance, paint and party till dawn! I love to be with nature, my dog, write poetry, travel and go on facebook (yes I’m addicted!). I also study conspiracy theories, try to figure out ways to save the planet from global warming, pole dance in my living room and practice the Wicca! The more things you enjoy in life the more ways you have of being happy in my book!
What music do you like? What was the last CD you bought?
The older I get, the more I love all different types of music. I love RnB and old soul, also love Latin and Italian music, and some Bollywood type stuff and I love musicals! I also like tripped out kinda “air” vibe but my favourite right now is singer/songwriter stuff like The Fray, James Blunt, Dixie Chicks, Jack Johnson and my favourite is sexy Steve Balsamo “the storys” from Wales! I also like Tom Waits, Donald Fagin and I love Luther Vandross – I could go on and on – I surround myself with music day and night!
Finally where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
In 10 years, I want to be a happy, healthy, creative mum and actress, surrounded by lots of dogs!