TOO CLOSE: INTERVIEW WITH DENISE GOUGH
Phycological thriller starring Emily Watson as dedicated forensic psychiatrist, Emma Robertson, who is assigned to work with Connie Mortensen, a wife and mother accused of a despicable crime. Her assessment of the ‘yummy mummy monster’s’ sanity will determine whether Connie faces life in jail, life in a secure psychiatric hospital, or the chance of rehabilitation and release.
Too Close begins Monday 12th April at 9pm on ITV.
Press Interview with Denise Gough
Q: What was your initial reaction when approached about Too Close?
“I remember reading the script and thinking, ‘This is fantastic. It’s totally up my street.’ I knew it would be something I could get my teeth into. I also knew Emily Watson was involved. You want to be a part of anything she is signed up to. The story of these two women circling each other the way they do was really interesting to me.”
Q: Who is Connie?
“You meet Connie after she has done something horrendous. She has driven a car off a bridge with two young children in the back and is now in a psychiatric unit, but we also see where she was before this happened.
“Emily Watson plays the forensic psychiatrist Emma who has the job of trying to figure out why Connie did what she did. You see Connie and Emma in the psychiatric unit, but you also see Connie’s life leading up to her driving the car off the bridge. She had a stable marriage, raising her children, maybe a little bit disillusioned. And then you have to watch it to see why.”
How would you describe the rela9onship between Connie and Emma?
“Connie is really combative. She is trying to piece together everything that happened her. She is on the defensive straight away. Connie has already had a couple of people coming in to try and work her out. By the time Emma arrives she is just not having any more of it. She is really aggressive from the start. You are not on her side.
“Connie is constantly testing the boundaries as to what Emma is going to allow her to do. It’s a way of seeing if she can trust her. Connie wants to know, ‘Why should I tell you anything?’ So, she asks for something in return. It’s quite transactional straight away. At least she expects it to be. Connie doesn’t like being studied.
“I spoke to the author and screenwriter Clara Salaman about a couple of things I needed guidance with. But I don’t tend to overthink it. I just do what’s on the page and get on with the job.”
Q: Connie claims she cannot remember driving off the bridge. Emma is trying to establish if she is suffering from dissocia;ve amnesia. What is that?
“When a traumatic event happens in a person’s life we have an extraordinary capability as human beings to separate ourselves from it until we are ready to see it. It’s like a deep state denial. We can push down things in order to function. In this story we have a mother who is told she has essentially tried to kill her daughter and another child. And having studied it, I believe totally in dissociative amnesia. It’s a way to protect oneself from dealing with the reality of your situation.”
Q: Too Close looks at mental health issues discussed more openly today than ever before. But can we still do more?
“We are all on the precipice. There’s a line in Too Close which asks, ‘Why aren’t the streets full of wrecked people?’ That was the line that really hit me when I first read the script. It’s so heartbreaking to be somebody who feels like that. Mental health issues have been further highlighted by the pandemic.
“Everyone is doing their best. But we can do so much better. Even with the women’s movement, there are a lot of amends we need to be making to each other as women. The relationship between Connie and Emma in Too Close shows the amount of healing that can happen by actually talking through things and taking responsibility. As opposed to hiding from things.
“What Emma does is deeply compassionate. She goes above and beyond. Essentially it is a story of one woman deciding to go that extra mile to interrogate something. A woman who decides to put herself on the line to help another woman out. Without knowing what the outcome is going to be. I think in many ways it is a hopeful story.
“Too Close also says a lot about how mental health is dealt with. Asking questions about what leads a person to do what they have done. We treat a lot of symptoms in our society and we need to investigate the causes. Treating what is underneath that. We need a lot of healing for people who have come from trauma.
“You scratch the surface of addicts, for example, and you will find some sadness there. You will find something that broke. Something that led to this. We’ve got to look after each other. Not least with people’s mental health. At a certain point you can crack.”
Q: What was it like working with Emily Watson?
“I remember watching ‘Hilary and Jackie’ and thinking, ‘Oh yeah. I understand that kind of performance.’ She is all encompassing. Emily throws herself at it, and I want to work with people like that. Now I have found myself at a level, thankfully, where you get to operate opposite people who make you better.”