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TV Quickfire: Laura Fraser on her new forensics-focused crime thriller Traces

Laura Fraser stars in new suspense-filled crime thriller Traces set in Dundee in the world of forensic science. We quizzed her about the show

Laura Fraser as Sarah Gordon in Traces
Gemma Dunn

HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARISE TRACES?

IT'S a crime thriller, based on an original idea by Val McDermid. It's set around the world of forensic science in a place called SIFA in Dundee, and I play Sarah Gordon, who's a professor of forensic chemistry, and a fire expert. She's also the director of SIFA and she's doing all that as well as occasionally working with the police, assisting with inquiries in her realm. Though she doesn't deal with bodies – she's not a forensic anthropologist – but with physical remains, like electrics, surfaces, materials, fingerprints, that kind of thing.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE PART?

I've never played a chemist before. I thought it was really interesting the way you have this detailed, forensic science backdrop to this family tragedy and all he ramifications of that – as well as a beautiful love story that Emma [Molly Windsor's character] has going on.

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL INTEREST IN THE FORENSIC SCIENCE SIDE?

I am curious about things and how they work. When I was trying to research, they set me up with this lab in Preston, and it was so interesting. It must be so great to be scientifically, mathematically minded and be able to grasp it, because as much as I wanted to, I didn't understand a lot. I think you need a couple of degrees!

WHAT MAKES TRACES STAND OUT?

There are so many good actors, but [with] female-led dramas, I absolutely love watching women and seeing their relationships develop and all the quirks. That's what I loved about this one, all the relationships and the different dynamics between all the women at SIFA and then in the [wider] story. It's just fascinating to watch other people's lives.

YOU WORKED WITH AN ALL-FEMALE PRODUCTION TEAM TOO. IS THE BALANCE SHIFTING ON SET?

It's quite rare still. I've seen more women on set in the last few years; it used to be 95% male when I started 25 years ago and it's certainly not 50/50 still, but usually 70% male most of the time. So this was lovely. I feel like the atmosphere is better for everyone when it's mixed.

YOU'VE SPENT A LOT OF TIME WORKING ACROSS THE POND. HOW WAS IT TO BE BACK FILMING ON UK SOIL?

I love working in the UK. It's just more familiar, more relaxed. I think English people do still have a problem understanding what I say because I talk really fast sometimes, but not in the same way that Americans would be like, "sorry, what?". It's nice being understood, for once.

ARE YOU STILL RECOGNISED FOR YOUR TIME IN BREAKING BAD?

It happened a lot for a few years, but then it kind of stopped. But then it resurfaced because I think some people are watching it again because of El Camino. Usually I get recognised for that, or for The Missing. And then other times people come up and they don't know what they know me from, they just think they know me!

YOU'VE HAD A VARIED CAREER. WHAT'S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU'VE LEARNED?

Well, there's always issues of how to deal with bullying, because there can often be very strong personalities in these high-intensity environments. You're spending such long hours together, people are tired and, as an actor, you're very vulnerable, because you're spanning all these different emotions. I've struggled over the years to deal with people being a bit mean.

But Traces was a really good working environment and I really appreciated it and enjoyed it.

:: Traces premieres on Alibi tonight

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