Great LezBritain: Interview with Laura Fraser of “Lip Service”

“Great LezBritian” is a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.

Laura Fraser is perhaps the Lip Servant that you will be most familiar with, she has appeared in such films as A Knight’s Tale and Vanilla Sky, plus she’s the only cast member that you may have seen previously locking lips with a lady onscreen. Her previous gay-for-pay outings were in the wonderful ITV drama The Investigator alongside Helen Baxendale, Nina’s Heavenly Delights — you’ve got to love a film about lesbians and curry — and a short film that she couldn’t remember the name of when we met.

In Lip Service, her character Cat is really the central figure of the show. Although it is an ensemble cast, everything pretty much revolves around Cat; the love-triangle with Frankie and Sam, Tess is her flatmate, Ed is her brother and Jay is her work colleague.  

The neurotic, uptight side of Cat has the potential to grate — in girlfriend terms, Cat would definitely be filed under high-maintenance — but Fraser brings the audience back by playing the role with a lovely comedic and vulnerable edge.  Plus, she is of course, extremely beautiful and if you are going to be high-maintenance then it definitely helps to also be as fine looking as she.

We met her in a Glasgow bar to get the low-down on Cat, why she thinks casting directors see her as a good lesbian and who she would choose between Frankie and Sam. Tell me a bit about the character of Cat.
Laura Fraser:
She’s a very uptight, rigid person and at the beginning of the series she is just about to let go of her first big love, Frankie and then she comes back into her life. Cat desperately tries to keep a sense of herself but she is tied up in knots over the love triangle that emerges. 

AE: Do you identify with her at all?
When I was younger, like Cat, I was definitely easily led by what other people wanted for me or from me and I often found myself in situations where I hadn’t considered the consequences for myself. I can also relate to her control freak issues but the difference is I think Cat believes that this control is real; she doesn’t understand that it’s an illusion. Trying to control her nerves, her status at work, the dynamic of her friendships and her love life is futile, and although I can get myself into the same kind of state that she does, I definitely have more of a handle on myself.

AE: This is the fourth time you have played gay so obviously casting directors think you make a convincing lesbian, why do you think this is?
I don’t know — I like it though and I’d happily play a lesbian for the rest of my life. Harriet [Braun] told me that when they were casting they had to believe that the actresses all had a bit of lesbian in them. So maybe that’s it? I don’t know I don’t like to question it; I just want to keep it going. [laughs]

Nina’s Heavenly Delights

AE: Tell me a bit about the casting process?
It was a very easy casting process for me as usually I go to London a couple of times a year to get a job, but they were casting up here (in Glasgow) and so I just had to go into town and read a couple of pages. The second time they asked us to come down to London and I had to read with Ruta, who I’d never met before but who had already been cast as Frankie. When I got there, there was this stunning young woman with gorgeous long blonde hair who was quite serious and quite shy but we read together and it obviously went well because I got the part the next day and then we started shooting about a week after that. 

Then they called me and said, “We want to cut your hair” and I was a bit reticent until they told me Ruta was cutting hers because hers was sooo long. But I just thought, is it a bit cheesy to cut all my hair off, to imagine all lesbians have short hair? But in the end I decided to let them cut it fairly short just for a change rather than stereotypically because Cat is a lesbian.