Karla Crome: ‘If I wasn’t an actress I wouldn’t mind being a police officer’

ITV's new crime star Karla Crome talks Nordic noir, coping with reviews and why she doesn’t relate to her new character in The Level

We Brits love a crime drama, whether it’s an eerie cult-classic like Broadchurch or The Night Manager (anything starring Olivia Coleman, really) or a touch of Nordic noir.

Our latest crime must-watch is The Level, a brilliant new ITV six-parter set in Brighton. The series centres around Detective Sergeant Nancy Devlin (played by Karla Crome), a seemingly exemplary police officer who is in fact living a secret double life.

We caught up with Karla to find out a bit more…

‘I play Nancy Devlin: a high-flying, ambitious detective sergeant. When we meet her she’s at the top of her game, but we soon come to realize that she is involved in some dodgy things on the side, with dangerous loyalties to a childhood connection.’

‘I don’t really relate to my character. I’m a pretty upbeat person and I can’t complain about my life when comparing it to hers. She’s quite guarded: she doesn’t let her emotions come to the surface – that’s partly about protection but also about her upbringing and what she has been exposed to from a young age – she doesn’t give much away. There really aren’t many similarities between us.’

‘If I wasn’t an actress, I wouldn’t mind being a police officer. I’ve always said that, so crime series are actually the best way to do it without any risk whatsoever. I’m not much of a risk taker, I’m more of an arty farty person. This way I just get to pretend.’

‘I love crime series. Especially The Bridge and The Killing.’

‘For a series set in Brighton we barely filmed there. The filming took place mainly in West London, but we were in Brighton for the exteriors. We started filming at the beginning of April and we wrapped in mid July, but of all that time, only 4 weeks were in Brighton.’

‘I wish I didn’t have to validate myself by reading reviews. It really irritates me and I can’t stop until I find something negative. No one wants to hear people saying horrible things about them but I am getting better at letting it go. My friends who aren’t actors tell me to ignore it but as I tell them, ‘if someone was bitching you off on a corner of the internet, you’d probably want to know about it’, I think it’s just human nature. I’ll just sit for a minute and then let it wash over me. There have been so many lovely things said and you have to hang onto that, but I do really wish that I was just able to do a job and feel like I was happy with it and that would be enough.’

‘When I’m older I would love to play the role of Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass MenagerieShe’s just the ultimate matriarch: so strong and wounded at the same time. The role is so far from myself, I completely fell in love with her. I very much doubt I will ever get to play her though – It’s set in the American South in the time period that it is, and so as a mixed race women it would probably make no sense for me to play her.’

‘I will definitely be watching The LevelThat for me is the pay off for all the early mornings and late nights. If I’m not going to enjoy the final product, there is no prize for me at the end of it. It’s going to be a great thing to watch it with friends and family and enjoy it with them, reliving the nice memories, despite the content, and seeing how it comes together.’

‘It’s really important that people don’t view success as a competition. Everyone’s journey is their own and if I had compared myself to various people at different points in their journey, I would have ended up getting so disheartened and disappointed and indeed I did. But things have happened for me as and when they’re meant to and I think you’ve just got to be patient and be open for opportunities when they’re there but not get downhearted when they’re not.’

‘I have got a busy few months ahead. You can see me at the National Theatre in the play Amadeus. I’m playing Mozart’s wife, Constanze. It’s an amazing play – I am completely in love with it. It’s a real investigation into mediocrity – a proper debate about how we deal with being average at something we love and seeing someone else be brilliant at it. It’s a topic I haven’t seen in the theatre, TV or radio before. I’ve also written a TV episode of Sky 1’s Hooten & the Lady (mine is episode 5): a real Indiana Jones Romancing the Stone kind of set up – but the episode that I have written is actually going to clash with The Level as they’re both 9 o’clock slots. I don’t know which one to watch – but I feel like a winner either way.’

Watch The Level on ITV, Friday 9pm.

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