In the second part of our interview with actress Jing Lusi, who left our screens this week following the sad death of her character Tara Lo.
She talks to us about her exit storyline…
What a tragic end for Tara! How did you feel about the storyline?
I’m OK about it now but I was very sad at the time! I always knew it was going to happen so it wasn’t a Joey Tribbiani moment when I read the script.
But as we got closer to filming her demise, we all realised it was really quite sad. I think because she’s young, not that it’s better when someone old dies, but you don’t expect her to and people don’t relate mortality to young people. I’ve never played a character for so long before, so at some point they kind of inhabit you without you realising it so when you go on that journey with them, it’s kind of you doing it and that was tough. I was crying all over the place!
Do you wish you could have stayed on Holby longer?
There were times when I was working on Set, and I really loved it there, that I wished it never had to end but looking back at it now I’m glad, not in a negative way that I have left but I think it made the storyline stronger.
When we had my first producer meeting and they said this is what’s going to happen, the danger is that we’re all going to fall in love with eachother and not want me to go and then write you that miraculous cure. But that would dilute the story, so we needed to commit to that story decision as sad as it would be. Looking back, it was an honour to have such a huge arc to play as opposed to leaving in the back of a black cab which can potentially take away from a character. For myself in terms of acting, I don’t think I would have had such a strong story to play and flex my muscles. In terms of the character, it wouldn’t have done her justice to set her up as this dying character, have all the aggression and geekiness that defines who she is.
Did you have to do any research for your storyline?
I did go to somewhere called the ‘Death Café’ which is a group of people that meet up; whether they’re suffering from bereavement or have or are going through illnesses or are just interested in the whole concept of death and they meet up and just talk. I saw it posted on facebook at the time I was filming and thought it was interesting. I haven’t had anyone close to me die or suffer from anything like this touch wood. It blew my mind because I thought it would be very morbid but it was inspirational to hear people’s stories and realise the fragility of life and it was useful to take that with me on Tara’s demise as it were.
How do you think Oliver will cope in the aftermath of Tara’s death?
The quickest widow ever, bless him! He’s already had a death, he’s not very lucky is he? I heard that he grows a beard so I think he’s going for a grieving, I’m not shaving phase. I guess that means he’s depressed.
What will you miss most and least from working on the show?
I won’t miss getting up at 6am. I definitely won’t miss that! I think I will just miss the family unit. There’s obviously an established cast, the regular crew and then learning from the guest actors that come in each week. You learn so much from being around different people. Lucian Msamati was one that screamed out to me; to work with people like that and then the next working with someone who’s just left drama school, you can still learn from them. It buffers you in lots of different directions. I’ll miss that.
Did you have fun on your leaving do?
My leaving do started at 7pm and ended at 5 in the morning so it was a very good leaving do! It was also like the last day of term, at Christmas time so everyone was in good spirits and a brilliant turn out. They’d put together a montage of my best bits and I got some beautiful flowers and Selfridges vouchers. They really looked after me here.
Do you hope to keep in touch with your cast members?
I do although it’s tough as for them; their filming schedules are crazy. It’s only been a few months since I’ve left so I don’t really feel like I’ve left yet. Niamh has already taken my dressing room!
What projects do you hope to work on next?
I’m trying to get into writing and get my message and stories out there. My next project, however, is a wonderful play called 4000 Miles, performing at Theatre Royal Bath and London’s Print Room until June.
What are you interested in writing about?
My message is love and family and getting people to reconnect with positive messages. There’s a lot of stuff I see out there that portray the world in a bad place such as street crime and it can be seen quite negatively. So I think it’s important that people put positive back into society and I think that starts with family and community. One of my dreams is to get something made before I’m thirty in a few years! I started Holby when I was 26 – time just flies by. I think because I’ve had so much fun.
Will you watch Holby anymore now you’ve left?
I will keep watching but I don’t see it as Holby anymore. I see it as my friends having a good time. It’s funny as they all play quite serious characters but off screen I know what they’re like! I bet they’ve just gone ‘cut’ and Jimmy will have made a joke or Chizzy has made some funny remark so for me it’s just nice to see what they’re doing. It’s almost like I’m catching up with them in a weird voyeuristic way!
Who would you say is the biggest joker is on Set?
It’s a tough one between Chizzy and Guy. Chizzy is a corker for jokes and being loud whereas Guy is a sly one! He just slips in some remark especially before a take, standing opposite you; he’ll say something so inappropriate and then its action! The character of Hanssen is so restrained and professional whereas Guy is not! He’s hilarious! He’s a very good actor to play someone so different to him. Although I do get bad whiplash when I work with him!
Everyone’s got such a good sense of humour which is why when I watch it I don’t think doctors and nurses; I can see their personalities through!
* To read the first part of Jing’s interview click here *