Netflix’s new series The Innocents is about shapeshifters who can take the form of anyone else. That provides for a lot of drama and plot twists, but really The Innocents is a love story.
Harry (Percelle Ascott) and June (Sorcha Groundsell) are in love, and they run away together. When June discovers her powers, that gives them an advantage but also gets them into more trouble.
Showbiz Junkies spoke with Groundsell after The Innocents panel for the TCA. The Scottish actress stars in the eight episodes of The Innocents’ first season, now streaming on Netflix.
Do you see this as a big breakout role? Have you thought about what it means to be involved in a Netflix series?
Sorcha Groundsell: “For me personally, I tried not to think about that too much. I would have gone insane and panicked I think if I had thought about that. I think for me it was very useful to just do the work and try and do the best job that you can. Whatever comes from it is great. I’m trying not to take that side too seriously. The job is the time that you work on it. This stuff is just extra.”
Are you a hopeless romantic in real life?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I’m a hopeless romantic but I’m also Scottish so I’m quite cynical. I think it’s balance of the two.”
Was it difficult for you to get your mind around the shapeshifter mythology?
Sorcha Groundsell: “It was but I must say that our writers, Simon [Duric] and Hania [Elkington], were so amazingly open with us and really were there to answer whatever questions we had. So I think it was very helpful for us to go through and work out the details and the ins and outs of the mythology, but also of the physicality of shapeshifting. It was quite a complex thing because when you’re shooting out of sequence, it’s like who’s who at this point? Who have they shifted into and where are they at this point? So it was good to check in with everybody to just make sure we were all at the same point.”
How do you hand off to another actor when your character has shape shifted, and then come back after all the things they performed?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I tried as much as I could to see the rushes of it, if I wasn’t there on the day, to see their scenes. A lot of the time, because the reflection that you see in the mirror of all of these people that you shift into, it’s the initial person so I was on set for a lot of the actual shooting. We always approach the direction of it by running the scene with Harry and June first to get that tone. Then the other actor will step in and do their thing. Obviously it’s their performance so it will be slightly different, but all of them were, from my experience, so fantastic and really nailed the nature of a 16-year-old girl, which for a big burly Viking-type guy, that’s not easy.”
Do you get possessive over your character?
Sorcha Groundsell: “No. To be honest, it was like an acting class for me. The performances were so incredible, it was quite fun to just sit back and think, ‘Oh, that’s how they see June. Right.’ I never felt like my character was being taken away from me at all.”
Are you eager to find out where The Innocents goes in future seasons?
Sorcha Groundsell: “Absolutely. At this point, none of us know anything about it. It’s all very much up in the air. Obviously, we’re actors so no one tells us anything but yes, fingers crossed, that would be fantastic. But, also, we’re just very glad to be focused on this part. We’re not taking anything for (granted).”
Did you start hearing from fans when the trailer was released?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I haven’t really paid attention to it just because I will stress out about it. From what I’ve heard, everyone seems to be quite positive about it.”
Where do you expect to be when it premieres?
Sorcha Groundsell: “Probably in Scotland with my parents. I don’t know how I’m going to watch it or if I will. I might watch it all in one go.”
Do you do social media and all the other things that come with an acting career in 2018?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I have it but I definitely haven’t had the briefing of an actual social media. Some people are so good at it, it’s amazing. It kind of confuses me a little bit.”
What is your background? Did you study acting?
Sorcha Groundsell: “Not really. I’m from Scotland. I took acting classes in Glasgow when I was a teenager but no, I haven’t been to drama school. This has been my training.”
What scene did you audition with?
Sorcha Groundsell: “Oh goodness me. I think there were quite a few. One of them was in the car in the first episode, one of the car scenes. Most of it was Harry and June scenes.”
Was it a long process to win the role?
Sorcha Groundsell: “Kind of. It was longer for Percy. I auditioned for it and then didn’t hear back for like four months, came in for a chemistry read and then got the part basically the next day. It was long but also very fast at the same time. Then we were in pre-production meetings the week after. It was quite a whirlwind.”
Have you lined anything up after The Innocents?
Sorcha Groundsell: “No, I’m just sort of enjoying some time off at the moment, really. It was such an intense shooting process that I’m enjoying being able to sleep normally for a change.”
Have you ever had a role this intense before?
Sorcha Groundsell: “No. No, but also I’ve never had a job that lasted as long. There’s something very different about being in every day for seven months. It’s a real challenge but it’s a challenge that every actor wants.”
What would be your dream role to play one day?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I’m a bit of a theater buff so I feel like Lady Macbeth is the goal.”
You haven’t done it in any school productions before?
Sorcha Groundsell: “No, I didn’t really do drama at school. My school didn’t really have drama.”
Do you alternate between theater and screen?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I would like to. I haven’t done a huge amount of theater at all but I would very much like to.”
What is your life like in England?
Sorcha Groundsell: “I live in London. It’s just pretty normal. This is very, very distant to my regular life.”