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Hannah Traylen

3rd October 2023

Interview: Flora Grafton

Photographer: Tatiana Galic

Styling: Farrah O'Connor

Hair and Make Up: Levi-Jade Taylor

British actress Hannah Traylen is making her return to the award-winning Boiling Point.

After the debut film’s success sky-rocketed in 2021, the heat is about to be turned up to 100 degrees with the sequel series. 

Hannah’s character Holly is returning to the screen in a new job and a relationship — but the excellence of her acting remains just the same.

Hi Hannah! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to me today. How are you?

I’m really well thank you. I love the move into Autumn. You can feel the cosy nights ahead.

Great! So, you’re due to star in the hugely anticipated series of ‘Boiling Point’ and returning as Holly. Can you begin telling us what’s changed for Holly in the new series?

In the film we saw Holly briefly, deep in a life of crime. Six months on, she’s trying to better herself by leaving that behind her. Jake (played by Dan Larkai) has got her a job in the kitchen, and together they are the dream team pot-wash duo.

And word-on-the-street is Holly enters a love affair in the series. Can you give us any hints as to who it may be with or how their relationship unfurls?

Holly is free-spirited. She brings a fun dynamic to the kitchen. She goes with the flow and isn’t bound by labels, nor is she intimidated by hierarchies. There’s someone in Point North who is inspired by her liberated nature, but you’ll have to tune in to find out who that is and if anything comes of it.

Ooo interesting! So, other than a new romance and boss, what else can fans of the film expect from the series and from Holly in particular?

Holly isn’t afraid to speak her mind and doesn’t often censor herself for anyone. In the series, you’ll see a lot more of her than in the film, so you'll get a chance to get to know her better. Her humour, her loyalty, her insecurities, her banter, her hard shell but soft centre. We see friendships pushed to the limit and the level of sacrifice she’s willing to make for the people she cares about.

Well, I can’t wait to see it! So, Hannah, can you tell me what drew you to Holly as a character and what you like and dislike about her personality/behaviour?

Back in 2020, I auditioned for a different role in the feature film. We were asked to make a cup of tea and tell a story about an experience we’d had in a restaurant, unrehearsed. This was Phil Barantini's (Director) way of seeing our natural storytelling and improvisation ability. I was recalled and asked to improvise a chat in a car with a friend. Then I was called in to chemistry test with Dan Larkai, and we hit it off straight away. You need a lot of trust and a strong figure-of-eight (listening and responding) when you improvise, and we had that from the get-go. I found out about half an hour after that recall that I’d been cast and I was over the moon, so it wasn’t really a case of being drawn to her or liking/disliking her, it was an opportunity to work with some really cool, down to earth artists on something that sounded really special. And when Stephen Graham’s linked to a project, you know it’s gonna be golden.

Ah, that’s really interesting to hear! And how has filming the series been - has it felt much different to shooting the film?

Spatially, it felt entirely different. The film was shot at a real restaurant in Dalston, London (Jones & Sons) and the series was shot in Manchester (Space Studios), where a set had been built that was a lot more accessible for Matt Lewis (Director of Photography). Like panels of the fridge or grill coming off to shoot some edgy angles. When we shot the film I was sat outside for 40 minutes in the car, waiting for someone to tap on the window to indicate “get ready, the camera will be out in about a minute”, so being in the hubbub of the kitchen, was a totally new experience. However the level of passion that drove the feature was alive on the series set too.

What three words would you use to describe the series?

Hot. Heartfelt. Hogget.

What are you looking forward to the viewers seeing from the series the most?

The series delves deeper into the personal lives of our front and back of house. It touches again on mental health and addiction (as in the feature), but also on gender identity, the cost of living crisis and invisible disabilities, so there’s even more relatability for the audience. I’m really excited for you to see the new restaurant, the set design is incredible, along with some fresh faces and a side of beautiful jazz music to accompany it.

Amazing! When can people expect it to be on their screens?!

It’s out on Sunday 1st October at 9pm on BBC One. And all episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer, if you’re a binge-watcher like me.

I’m so looking forward to it. So, given your success, I think we need to take it back to the beginning. How did you get into acting and at one point did you realise you wanted to pursue your passion as a career?

As a kid, my family got the fun job of sitting through all of the shows my sister Hollie and I would create with all of the old clothes in the dressing up box and whatever props we could find around the house. I think I was about three when I first mentioned to my mum that I wanted to be on the telly, I was always so excited when she got the camcorder out and was obsessed with being on stage from the moment I played Mary in the school Nativity. It wasn’t until my drama teachers Nathan (who’d worked previously in Nottingham with The Television Workshop) and Abbie, pushed me to apply for grants to go to drama school that I even knew it existed! I’ll be forever indebted to them for opening my eyes to the fact that being an actor was possible for me. I’m a firm believer in “what’s meant for you, will not pass you by”, so I’m both grateful for where I am and filled with a sense of being where I belong.

And what were your favourite shows/films/plays growing up that you felt inspired your career?

Growing up I played Grease and Titanic on repeat. But I spent so much of my childhood creating imagined worlds with my sister, that it wasn’t until I was in my early teenage years that I’d sit up when I was supposed to be asleep with my little cube BUSH TV on mute, with the brightness turned low (so my mum didn’t know), watching Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. Other than that, I was out exploring or BMXing with the boys down my road. My family aren’t theatrical, they run a travel company so yearly pantomimes were the closest we got to watching plays. Studying Drama at school introduced me to the wonderful world of theatre and gave me a creative outlet. I remember being so inspired by the weirdness of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty because it was dark and ugly and fascinating. It was around that time I started to come across films that really resonated with me like Wasp (Andrea Arnold), Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold), Nil By Mouth (Gary Oldman) and All or Nothing (Mike Leigh).

They’re great ones! Now, I must ask, is there anyone you really want to work with? Be it a fellow actor or director.

I’d love to work with Kathy Burke; she’s sensational. Olivia Colman; she’s wonderful and I think we’d have a giggle. I’d love to just watch Meryl Streep work, what a woman! And with regards to director’s, I’ve always wanted to do a full Mike Leigh process, and work with, or just go for coffee with, the incredible Andrea Arnold.

Oo interesting! And, of course, you’ve featured in some other huge productions like Ridley Road and Behind Her Eyes, but now you’re producing your very own short film. Can you walk me through the writing process of Small Fry?

I wanted to write a film that shone a light on the loneliness felt by so many young people behind closed doors. Add trying to survive in a world where what’s presented to us on social media isn’t reality, and it becomes difficult to know who’s really there when life comes along to shake you up. I wanted to explore the coping mechanisms we use when we are without purpose or community. I think the vulnerability and courage that Phil Barantini and James Cummings (Writer) have shown in the making of Boiling Point, was a massive inspiration to go for it. I wrote Small Fry over two nights whilst we were filming in Manchester. I was basically just trying to annotate what I’d seen in my head because I’d already played it out in my mind’s eye. So trying to find the words for what I could visualise was really interesting. I took my first draft to Phil for some advice, and I was really touched that instead of notes, he came back to me and said “It’s brilliant. I want to make it with you. My production company (Made Up Productions) will help you get it made.”

And what did the storyline look like initially and how has that transpired into the final script?

The storyline isn’t much different from my first draft actually. There were a few extra locations which added cinematic value to the world, but ideally a short film needs to be around ten to fifteen minutes in length, so it can be programmed, so I had to work closely with Samatha Beddoe (Producer) to streamline the narrative; deciding what every second added to the themes and how it drove forward the narrative. That was tough because I could give full explanations for all of it and originally it was twenty two minutes long. So getting rid of seven whole minutes was brutal!

Wow that sounds amazing! I can’t wait to see that. Is there anything else in the pipeline that your fans can expect?!

Sexy Beast, the prequel to the 2000 film, is yet to be released on Paramount Plus. I loved going back to the 90’s to play Hayley. There are a few other exciting things I can’t announce just yet, but keep your eyes peeled.

How exciting! So, Hannah, I like to round off all my interviews with this question: what would your MasterMind specialist subject be? It can be super niche - mine is Gavin & Stacey to give you an idea. 

Oh I love Gavin & Stacey. I worked with Larry Lamb on Hounded; he’s as lovely as you’d imagine. I know loads of really random facts like "cows have four compartments in their stomachs”, but a specialist subject is a tough one because I like learning about so many different things at once! Probably Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. That’s always been my guilty pleasure. I know it back to front; what a classic!

That’s a really good one! Well, Hannah, thank you so much for your time - I’m so grateful - and I wish you the best of luck for the future. I can’t wait to watch Boiling Point and Small Fry.

Follow Hannah!

Boiling Point is on BBC One every Sunday or you can watch all the episodes on BBC iPlayer.

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