Great LezBritain: Interview with Ruta Gedmintas from “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.

When we first went onto the Lip Service set, we cannot tell a lie, it was Ruta Gedmintas that first caught our eye. We can thank series creator, Harriet Braun for suggesting the frankly delicious haircut, but we must give her parents and genetics a massive high five for the rest.

Our interview with Ruta took place during filming back in December. In person, she was intense, thoughtful and extremely articulate. She talked passionately about the show and had obviously spent a lot of time studying and coming to grips with the role of Frankie.

Since the first episode aired, two things have been made clear to us; Frankie is undoubtedly the most divisive character on the show and many of you would like to have your wicked way with her. We talked to Ruta about how she got the role, the Shane comparisons, and whom in the cast she admitted to having a crush on. From what we have seen, Frankie is a character that will be a bit of a love/hate figure isn’t that a great character to play?
Ruta Gedmintas:
Yes, definitely and I was given a bit of a licence to develop the character. Harriet (Braun) gave me the general archetype of who Frankie is and [said] I could go off and play with it, but the scripts have been great, so I have moulded to them, and they have to me.

She is someone who is very strong minded, independent and loyal to her friends but she takes a lot of risks and is a bit messed up – which, all in all, makes her a fun character to play.

AE: What was the casting process like and how did you find out you had the role?
I was in Bulgaria shooting a horror movie when I was sent the script, so I was reading it in between takes of screaming while covered in blood.

It’s not often — especially with the current lack of funding going into the arts — that you read a new script that catches your interest, but as soon as I read Lip Service, I thought it was really good. And when I read the breakdown for Frankie, I was like, “I can do that.”

I think I went straight to the plane to the auditions, blood encrusted, and I was feeling really ill. I went to the audition and really loved everyone in the room. I had a four-hour recall where I read for lots of other people. I think, in the end, I found out about getting the part through a friend of mine texting me to say, “Well done,” and I was so happy because it’s such an amazing part.

AE: Did you have any qualms about Frankie being a bisexual character?
No, it would be the same way I would tackle any other script. Her being bisexual is just another trait of Frankie, I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m doing a lesbian show.” It was about playing the part of Frankie.

AE: I have seen the pictures of you before Lip Service and the way you look now is pretty different. Tell me a bit about the makeover.
[laughs] Well, I had really long blond hair before and then they cut it off short.

AE: Do you like it?
I do. I really like it. I see pictures of my long hair before and I think, “What was I doing?” I kind of think it didn’t really suit me and when Harriet saw me in the auditions, she told me that she was relishing the fact that my hair was going to go. [both laugh] It was quite nice having an excuse to do it because as an actress, you always want to be quite malleable and for people to see you in a variety of ways, and if you have long hair, they can do a lot with that. That’s why actresses tend to have long hair. But I love it and I don’t really want to go back now.

AE: The whole styling of Frankie is really spot-on and you must realise that she has the potential to become a massive lesbian favourite do you feel prepared for that?
I don’t know. Harriet has said that to me before, but we will see. The styling has been fun and Leslie the costume designer is great. We have shared a lot of similar ideas on how Frankie should look and just added a few quirks here and there. Leslie is great because she is willing to work with the story as well. Frankie’s storyline gets a lot darker towards the end of the series, so we’ve taken that through into the colours I wear as well.

AE: Frankie is already being compared to the character of Shane in The L Word. Do you see the similarities and what would you say are the biggest differences are between the characters?
There is an archetypal similarity between [Frankie and Shane] in that androgynous, boyish, cool kind of thing, so we are obviously going to have comparisons drawn between us. Frankie uses sex as escapism and as a means of control, which I guess Shane used as well. And there is the short haircut but I think that is as far as the similarity goes. Frankie is a lot darker than Shane is. And Shane is seen by her friends as very trendy and doesn’t really put a foot wrong with them, whereas Frankie kind of tests boundaries a lot more than Shane did.

I think the big difference between The L Word and Lip Service is that The L Word kind of tackles major lesbian issues, whereas this show is about three lesbians living in Glasgow and just their general lives. And obviously, it’s not quite as glitzy as LA – they don’t have the money.