It wouldn’t bother Clare Higgins that I’ve never seen Hellraiser all the way through, as she hasn’t, either. I saw bits of it hanging out with a friend in college; she sat through part of it during the premiere, and walking out because she didn’t like it. You see, Clare Higgins seem to be, if anything, less of a horror fan than I am myself. If you read her interviews about Hellraiser, she can’t even bring herself to a “if it’s the sort of thing you’ll like, you’ll like it.” One rather wonders why she was willing to be in it in the first place and assumes “the money, dear boy.”
In fact she’s likely much more proud of her Tony, her Laurence Olivier Theatre Awards, and her London Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards. She has a long, proud theatrical career that she’d really much rather talk about. Or maybe you could talk about her TV debut as Miss Kitty Bennett in the 1980 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. Her assorted Shakespearean roles. There are a lot of roles she’s genuinely proud of that kind of get pushed aside because she’s Julia in the Hellraiser movies.
Frankly, with the exception of those two films, she has what I think of as the Standard British Career. It’s not just the three episodes of Midsomer Murders, the Father Brown, and the Alleyn Mysteries, though British TV does feature an awful lot of murder shows. (She did at least a dozen other shows that I’m pretty sure feature murder but aren’t as iconic.) It’s that, plus Downton Abbey, plus Doctor Who. In particular plus EastEnders. Which is where I share the delightful information I just learned that, after EastEnders returned from COVID shutdown, they opened the first episode back by saying it was series two. This is very funny if you know British television.
This is not intended as a slight. Honestly, I think it’s delightful. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of working actors in the UK who make a living circulating around a handful of shows that just need a lot of minor characters. I love that you can pick practically any obscure British TV actor and know that you’ll recognize at least a couple of their credits and, if you think hard enough, maybe even remember seeing them being questioned briefly by David Suchet or something. Possibly they were a corpse being tsked over by a kindly rural something-or-other.
It’s nice that these roles are on all sides of the class divide, too. There are always roles on Casualty. And no matter where in the UK you’re from, you can appear in an adaptation of song work of great literature, whether you’re a servant or a Bennett sister, a street urchin or Madame Jericho. And if you want, you can throw in an episode of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones as Edith Wharton, because the Americans can always use British minor characters. And horror fans will still remember you from being menacing, because that’s how careers work.