At the end of series one Nina was in a relationship with Rex, how has that developed?
We leave her in a disconcertingly calm place at the end of series one, and so I suppose it’s not very surprising that we start the next series and she’s not in a calm, settled place anymore. She’s in a classic Nina situation again. Rex is not in the picture, and while we don’t find out loads about what happened, it’s clear it isn’t Nina’s fault that it’s broken down. She started to trust him and fall into that relationship and then she was let down.
So at the beginning of series two we find her in quite a similar place, in that she’s dating… well, not so much dating just sort of sleeping around really!
It’s fair to say that Nina’s behaviour in series one was increasingly self-destructive – has she got things more under control?
No, not in any way! She hasn’t learned any lessons. She goes on a massive learning curve in this series and she really does become a different version of herself by the end of this series. She has a lot of big, life things to tackle that sort of shock her into really dealing with her issues. Obviously, she has a drink issue and then a sex issue and she steals ‘just because’. And so, while we go back into all of that and you see her struggling again, this time she has to face everything.
Having lived with this character for one series already, what were you excited to explore for a second series?
I was interested to explore her vulnerability actually, because it’s really good fun playing somebody who’s self-destructive and a bit wild. And I always get to play these parts, even though I’m literally the biggest square ever! Nina has a ballsy lawyer facade and she seems to have everything. She’s got this amazing career, her own apartment, all the money she could ever wish for. And then you start to see the really vulnerable woman underneath, who is starting to face all the demons she’s had her entire life.
At the beginning of the series, we are introduced to a new character called Tyler who has joined NHD, his arrival comes at a time when Nina is clearly under pressure, what effect does this have on her?
Well, she can’t stand him. She’s transitioning from being at Defoe’s, to merging with Noble and Hale, and he comes in as a sort of head-of-the-merger kind of guy. He’s watching everybody and looking to see how productive everybody is and how they’re using their time and quite quickly, obviously, sees that Nina is late nearly every day and hungover nearly every day. So, he’s just on her, he pops up everywhere!
He’s always in her way and there’s a real chemistry right from the beginning, but it’s not a good chemistry, it’s a ‘I hate you’ kind of chemistry, which is amazing to play. That was really fun. So, she hates Tyler because he just will not let her get away with anything. Basically, Tyler can see her. He sees through all her fronts that she puts on.
The Defoe women were all facing personal crises at the end of series one, has that brought Hannah, Nina, Rose and Ruth closer together or further apart?
It flings them further apart for most of the series, actually. And there’s a real sense that they don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives, apart from Rose. We know what’s going on with Rose, she’s the one who always communicates everything, but certainly Hannah and Nina have got major crises happening which they are keeping them very much to themselves.
Can you tell us about some of the cases Nina encounters throughout the series?
The one that comes to mind straight away was a really interesting one about adoption. Two elite athletes, Olympians, are adopting and it’s an interesting story as they’ve been through the wringer with the process. How difficult it is to adopt is something I don’t think is spoken about enough.
Abi creates such beautifully authentic characters, what is it about Nina that audiences can relate to?
I think the fact that she’s completely imperfect. The feedback I got from series one was that people particularly loved that party, the dinner party scene. People love a disastrous dinner party! People enjoy that about Nina, that she’s not perfect and she doesn’t pretend to be perfect. She is an absolute car crash. I think people enjoy watching people messing up, don’t they? Because then it makes them think ‘oh god, I do that’ or it makes them feel better about themselves.
Has working on The Split changed your view of marriage and divorce?
I don’t think so, because when you get into your 30s, your perspective changes anyway. Abi highlights it all so well though, and Stephen and Nicola play it so beautifully. It’s heartbreaking to see how brittle it can be. The mistakes that one person, or any of us can make, and how that affects everything. The Split highlighted that fragility for me.
The Split airs Tuesday nights at 9.00pm on BBC One.