Leda Strike was Cormoran’s late supergroupie mother who died from a heroin overdose while he was attending Oxford University. Strike believes she was given the final lethal injection of heroin by his stepfather, Jeff Whittaker, who is also one of the main suspects in Career of Evil. Leda Strike is portrayed by actress Kierston Wareing in the Strike series. She appears in flashbacks in the third Strike mystery, Career of Evil, which consists of two episodes. Read her interview below.
You may recognise Kierston from the British soap EastEnders, in which she played a character called Kirsty Branning.
“I loved Kirsty Branning, especially the entrance on Christmas Day. I had to keep her a secret from everyone from the time I knew I was playing her in April until Christmas Day. I enjoyed the surprise and explosive secret. I am very grateful to Lorraine Newman, the producer, who took me on and I’m grateful for my time there.”
How did you first get into acting?
“After deciding to give up and go a different direction due to no luck in the acting field, I studied as a legal secretary and in my final second year with a job offer as a barrister’s clerk, I had an unexpected audition for Ken Loach. I went along for the audition and kept getting called back for over a three-month period. I had got down to the final two and made a promise to myself that if I didn’t get this, I was sticking to my guts and perusing a different direction, but I did it and this is where it all began.”
What acting techniques do you use?
“For Jackie in The Take, I asked the director if I could take a shot of vodka without getting obliterated before a take, excluding the one scene Jackie didn’t drink, and he agreed. For a short film on domestic violence called Leaving, my arm was meant to be burnt and covered with a cloth and for this scene I had a bulldog clip on my skin (my idea) so I could feel slight pain, so it all depends on what the role requires and the character’s background.”
How did you land the role of Leda Strike in the Strike series?
“The agent informed me I’d been offered the part of Leda Strike and it was an offer I obviously couldn’t refuse. I said yes straight away to be part of a J.K. Rowling novel adaptation, plus I had heard that Leda Strike was mentioned throughout the books and her character would be recognised by readers.”
How was your experience on set?
“It was great being on set. I loved working with the director, Charles Sturridge. I met the main actors in makeup and they were lovely (Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger). We had a chat, but unfortunately, we didn’t get to do any scenes together. My scenes were with my onscreen boyfriend at the time in the flashback scenes, (young Whittaker, played by Luke Booys) and that was great. We got to do a photoshoot one day instead of actually acting, and that was a lot of fun, Rock & Roll style, it was a great day. The other scenes were acting with the same actor, Luke Booys, and young Strike (Archie Wrightman) who was just adorable and played him so well.”
“I was so lucky to meet J.K. Rowling. It was by chance that J.K. was on set that day and the director kindly asked me if I would like to be introduced, and how could I refuse? I didn’t want to take up much of her time, so I said hello myself and so did young Strike. I let him do most of the talking as I think we were speaking about Harry Potter if I remember rightly. I just said thank you for having me on board and it’s a pleasure to meet you.
J.K. was very down to earth and lovely lady, I was thrilled to be working on a J.K. Rowling production, it was my absolute highlight to meet J.K whether she knew that or not.”
What is your next project?
“My next project to look out for is called I Love My Mum, a feature film. It’s about a mother and son duo who get inadvertently shipped in a container from London to Morocco with nothing but their pyjamas. The adventure takes them through Spain and France on a journey to get home and rebuild their rocky relationship. I play the mother and Tommy French plays my son. It’s a comedy road-trip film, a feel-good film, a different role to what I usually play.”
In association with Camelot Films and Amunet Productions, producers Alexa Waugh and Matt Hookings present a film written and directed by Alberto Sciamma called I Love My Mum.
See Kierston Wareing in Strike – Career of Evil, out now on DVD in the UK!
You can also follow Kierston on Twitter here.