It’s been 12 years since Emilia Fox first appeared on Silent Witness. Ninety two episodes and 12 series later, the 42-year-old is still wowing as forensic pathologist Dr Nikki Alexander. The Acton local, however, recently became a spokesperson for Framed; the world’s first interactive detective hub, where viewers could decide the fate of characters via live streaming on Alibi’s Facebook page. Here, she talks about her collaboration with Alibi, her life in her 40s, and considers if she would like her daughter Rose to follow in her acting footsteps, as she did with her famous parents.
Words: Josh Brooks
Why did you want to collaborate with Alibi on Framed?
Since I was little I have loved the crime genre and I was brought up reading Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and watching Inspector Morse. Obviously, since playing Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness I have a vested interest in crime.
Part of the reason I love Silent Witness is the constant thought of: ‘How are they going to solve it, and what happens behind the scenes?’ I’ve stayed with the show for so long because you actually get to find this out and see the reality of it. I think Framed is a great modern idea where you can be a part of solving the mystery. Everyone can get involved and communicate within social media.
Do you worry about being typecast in crime roles?
I can absolutely see how it could have gone that way, but the best thing about being a part of Silent Witness for so long is that I have been able to do other parts – perhaps I have been lucky. This year I’ve done comedy with Johnny Vegas and Delicious with Dawn French. I like the variation.
Will you know when it’s time to say goodbye to Nikki?
I don’t know how long the producers intend on continuing with the show. We never know that, it will be up to the powers that be, but I’ve always said I will continue doing it because it’s a luxury. It’s very near my [west London] home, so when I’m asked about juggling work and being a mum, that’s how I’ve managed it.
Speaking of family, you once said your 20s were about being focused on work and your 30s were about home life. What are you learning about your 40s?
People are fascinated about your outlook on life when you get to 40. It’s an interesting one because I don’t feel any different. My life has changed over the last couple of years. I’m a mum now and have different priorities.
I am hugely aware of the crossroad every actress faces about whether there are enough parts for women who are getting older, but we just have to encourage writers like Dan Sefton, who is fantastic at writing for women of all ages. As an industry, we need to nurture those writers because men and women are interesting at all ages, so it should represent this.
I’m never going to be able to stop ageing, but I hope that when we’re sitting here in ten years, I’ll still be fresh at 50. My philosophy is to embrace it and just keep doing as much as possible.
I think it’s a parent’s worst nightmare when their child says they want to be an actor! In their head, they are secretly hoping that they would want to be something where there is more job security. It is such a precarious profession, so I was completely aware when I ended up acting what my parents were thinking.
I want to give my daughter Rose a wide spectrum and give her the chance to do what she wants. She might want something completely different – I will make sure that I give her as much opportunity as I can.
What is your favourite memory of your parents’ showbiz parties?
Christmas always sticks in my mind, as my mum would always do big festive events with such a variety of people. Amazing actors such as Lindsay Anderson or Fred Zimmerman would come along, who directed my father in Day of the Jackal, and Duffy Cooper.
As a child you don’t really realise, you just take them for granted as your parents’ friends, but now I wish I could ask them all questions because I’m fascinated by their lives. I guess in a way, though, their conversations were inspiring to me in later life. I definitely feel that the people I met, the fun they had and the stories they had to tell has given me a better understanding of the highs and lows of acting. It’s full of such wonderful people with stories to tell and that’s what acting is – telling stories.