Miranda (Elen Rhys) with her partner Max (Julian Looman) in a publicity shot for "The Mallorca Files ". | Giacomo Neri - ZDF und Giacomo N
ELEN RHYS PLAYS DC MIRANDA BLAKE
Q: How did it feel to be back on The Mallorca Files?
A: “It felt wonderful to be back and to reconnect with the cast and crew. Everyone loves to work on this show, and we all have such a great and supportive relationship that we’re more like family than work colleagues.
Because this was the second series, I felt more established and confident with Miranda as a character and getting back into the show didn’t feel quite so daunting. Not to say that the nerves and adrenalin didn’t kick in – it just meant I could hit the ground running and throw myself back into the role.
And - of course - I just love living on Mallorca, so that was wonderful too.”
Q: What did it feel like to have the show recommissioned before you’d even aired the first episode?
A: “We all wanted the The Mallorca Files to be a hit and for it to resonate with people and for them to really enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it, so it felt like a huge compliment and recognition of all the effort we had made on the show to that point. We knew just how lucky we were to get that leap of faith in a brand-new series.”
Q: Have you been surprised by the fans’ response to The Mallorca Files and the show’s success in the UK and internationally?
A: “I’m only now realising just how great the response to the show has been, because Julian and I didn’t quite absorb it at the time. As the show’s leads, we felt such a burden of responsibility to make it a success: if people didn’t like us, they probably weren’t going to like the show. So, I remember we both tried to take it all very lightly at the time.
But the response has been just lovely. Everybody has embraced The Mallorca Files for what it is: easy watching, great fun, and great locations, and they have all been onside and onboard with that. It’s such a real relief. I don’t think I appreciated that at the time because I was just so nervous, but now that I can look back, I feel very proud of what we created.
And we’ve got some incredibly loyal fans of the show. It’s great to see that fanbase grow as the show rolls out around the world.”
Q: How easy was it to inhabit Miranda after a six-month break?
A: “In many ways it was very simple. Having lived Miranda every day for six months, her personality is ingrained in me. And stepping back on set, when you see the cast and crew, you think: ‘Oh, yeah. I’ll just fit back into this.’
I did do some preparation in advance, though. I watched the whole of the first series again and re-read old scripts to remind myself of where she’d started, where she ended up and why I’d made those character decisions. And I discussed quite a lot of things with Julian too.
And then of course, every department plays its role in helping you get back into character.
Maggi Vaughn who heads up our hair and make-up team, ensured that Miranda’s hair is exactly right. I’m very pernickety about her hair; everything has to be as it should be, which is a very Miranda quality. And this year we have a new costume designer Claire Lynch who developed a new, more relaxed look for Miranda. It’s a team effort!”
Q: So what changes – if any - should we expect in Miranda this series?
A: “Season one was about Miranda wanting to get home. She was resistant to this new life on the island and refused to accept and adapt to her new circumstances. She was very aloof and uncomfortable and was determined not to connect with Max.
We still get glimpses of this at the start of season two, but this is more a device to help new viewers understand just how far she has come. Now that she’s decided to stay on Mallorca and make a life for herself, you’ll slowly and surely get to see a little bit more of her personality and the lighter side of her character. Expect to see a bit more warmth from her and a bit less resistance, especially in her relationship with Max.”
Q: How has Miranda’s relationship with Max changed?
A: “This time round there’s less conflict between her and Max and you begin to see the roots of a deeper friendship and respect developing. I think that’s lovely and I guess is what you’d expect with police partners. She also comes to accept their differences: she appreciates that she and Max are not the same and acknowledges that when they work together, they can build on one another’s strengths. There’s definitely a deeper connection there between them and much more of a partnership.”
Q: The cases in Season Two are much meatier than the first series, but also much more hardhitting with overtures to the ‘Me Too’ movement and the repercussions of the Spanish Civil War. Do you feel a responsibility as an actor when you tackle those subjects?
A: “It’s always great to get meatier storylines as it makes it more interesting when working with the other actors. I think a show like The Mallorca Files can always be fun and easy-to watch but having tougher storylines every now and again make it richer. The important thing is that it’s not just done for the sake of it, although knowing our writing team I don’t think they’d ever do that.
When you’re in the show, no matter what story you’re telling – whether it’s a personal experience for your character or something someone has gone through – you do feel a personal responsibility and the desire to do it justice, particularly if it comes from a place of suffering or if it can offer an important message that might help someone else.
And it’s irrelevant whether you’re a woman or a man responding to a difficult narrative. I’m sure Julian feels just as much responsibility to make sure we do justice to a Me Too storyline as I do.”
Q: There are several well-known guest stars this season. What’s it been like to work with them?
A: “It’s been a joy! Without exception, all our guest stars – from both seasons – have been great to work with. But as the show has established itself, the second season has attracted some real household names. We had a ball with everyone and laughed every day on set. That doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard. In fact, quite the opposite: they all inspired us and encouraged us to up our game even more.
It’s also been brilliant because the calibre of guest stars has meant that they can carry some of the storylines this season. And that has been great for Julian and me as it’s meant that we can share the responsibility for making a great episode amongst more than just the two of us.”
Q: What’s been the most fun thing to film this series?
A: “As with the first series, each of this year’s episodes are so different. It was wonderful, and such a privilege, to have six completely different experiences on the island.
I mean, one day you’re stood in Real Mallorca’s football stadium for The Beautiful Game - it was just incredible. There’s a comedic Max vs Miranda challenge sequence at the end of the episode that sees Miranda and Max face off in a penalty shootout. I had to stand in goal while Julian took a penalty kick. Now, I hate being in goal. It’s genuinely one of my greatest fears – I used to have reoccurring bad dreams about it (that and sitting a Maths GCSE exam!). It was absolutely terrifying, but Julian and I would just look around and realise we’re in this incredible football ground. It was dark, and they had the floodlights up just for us. It was one of those moments where you’re like, ‘this is my job! This is so silly, yet really great at the same time.’ I just loved it.
And then when we filmed The Outlaw Jose Reyes, we had the joy of working with horses. It’s always fun being on a horse, there’s just something magical about them, the whole atmosphere on set changes. Mind you, we had some really funny moments with them. These were horses that had appeared in Gladiator and any recent film you can imagine that featured a horse. As a result, they were complete Divas.
For insurance reasons we weren’t supposed to do anything more than a trot, but the horses misbehaved at every opportunity, because they’d be bored and would mess around. Or when the crew called action, they’d get really tetchy on purpose. Julian’s horse was quite frisky, so it would often try to trot off and go into a canter which would lead to the crew shouting cut and telling us off. We would have to explain that we had no control over them and that they were just showing off in front of the cameras.
Look out for a scene in that episode where Julian looks like he’s about to fall off his horse as it canters away, and his hat blows off. It might look planned, but it wasn’t at all. It was such a funny moment.”
Q: Does Mallorca feel like home now?
A: “It really does, and I miss it so badly when I’m not there. As soon as the plane touches down on the runway, it’s like ‘Yeah! This is where I should be; this is home’.
The people are lovely, the city is gorgeous, and the food is delicious. And you know, our crew aren’t just work colleagues; they feel more like family. That adds to the whole experience. It makes you feel very safe and secure.
And people on Mallorca are very open and welcoming, so I’ve made friends with people outside of the production. Some of those had moved to the island, so they understand what it feels like to move to a foreign place, which also helps.”
Q: Last year you said you were going to learn Spanish. How’s that coming along?
A: “‘Hablo un poco de español’. My Spanish is a lot better than when I started the show. I had a tutor in the summer between filming the first and second series. She would come to the house and we would do one-on-one tutoring, but even I was surprised by how much I had picked up and understood by the time I went back to the island for series two. That built up my confidence to speak a little bit more, which meant I could get by and go out in a café and restaurant and order things or be quite clear about highchairs (for my son) and things like that.
But I’ve dropped the ball a little bit since being back. In lockdown I was doing a Duolingo course – as everyone did in lockdown – but that only lasted for a few weeks. I should have continued with it. It would have been a really valuable thing to do.
Mind you, if we get a third season of The Mallorca Files it will be the incentive I need.”
Q: What’s the one food thing you miss about Mallorca?
A: “I miss the simplicity of the food. It’s so different from the UK. I mean there are a few lovely restaurants in Mallorca, but you can just as easily walk into a café and order a tuna baguette - and it’s the most delicious tuna baguette you’ve ever tasted. Even tomatoes on toast are always beyond delicious!
It’s the simplicity and also the quality of the produce that does it for me. And of course, a good ice-cold Spanish beer…”