Kiwi audiences already know Hermione Norris from her starring roles as Karen Marsden in Cold Feet and Ros Myers in Spooks, but now she's joined the cast of another beloved British institution, Luther, as psychiatrist Dr Vivien Lake in season five.
"It's an exciting project to be a part of because Luther is fantastic," exclaims Hermione.
"The characters are such dark, complex creatures and the narrative is bold, edgy and risky too. It's a great combination! Working with Idris [Elba] has been amazing, because he's incredibly charismatic and genuinely lovely."
Despite her fervour, Hermione admits that appearing in Luther has been a daunting challenge and that she suffered from first-day jitters.
"Yes, I did! But then I always have those. I get very nervous too," she explains, blushing.
"It's terrible. I'll have a day off set and then I think I don't know how to do it [acting] anymore! Also, when you're coming into such a massive show, like Luther, there's a real sense of reverence around it, so you don't want to mess it up by getting the tone wrong or being out of sync with it. That can be intimidating."
Similarly, despite the colossal success of Cold Feet the first time around, Hermione had doubts about reprising her most famous character and pondered the wisdom of resurrecting the hit series.
"I was hesitant at first because I just think that revisiting something years later can be risky. Also, I didn't want to do something that ruined [the memory of] what we'd done before. That was my main reservation, not to ruin that legacy. So I'm very pleased that it's worked out!
"To be together all these years, come rain and shine, in sickness and in health, with people who aren't even your family is incredible. I have a huge amount of love and respect for them all.
"It's extraordinary to still be playing the same character 21 years later. That doesn't happen very often − unless it's in a soap," she continues, "so it's been a huge privilege for that to happen, but also a little bizarre. I'm still a bit shocked by it all, especially when you see a flashback to the beginning and then see yourself now because even though you've aged, you don't feel any different – until you see yourself in the mirror!"
Speaking of age, Hermione turned 50 in 2017, but you'd never guess.
When quizzed about her youthful secrets, she says it's all down to good luck and genetics, rather than exercise, yoga or faddy diets.
"I am the laziest woman in the entire world; I don't have time to go to the gym. It's the same with dieting – I can't be bothered. I like chocolate and cakes, and I enjoy food too much," she reveals laughing.
"Also, if I do try and do a diet, all I want to do is eat. It's like a reverse psychology thing.
"My philosophy is, 'let go of it as much as possible and your body will find its own natural balance'."
Although attempting to down-play the milestone, Hermione admits turning 50 did have an effect, making her reassess her life, love, career and kids.
"It was huge. I didn't have a party, though; it was more of a quiet contemplation because it's a massive time of reflection. Also, as a woman, it's a definite ending thing because [it means] you can no longer have a baby. It's a huge change in your life," she says.
"You don't fully realise, until you get there, just how it will impact you.
"It's funny how things change. When I was a girl, I just wanted to be an actress… Getting married and having children wasn't my first thing – I just wanted to act. But now I feel very pleased that I am married and I do have children.
"I think having children is definitely the biggest change. It's profound, it's absolute – and you just don't stop crying," Hermione philosophically adds.
"Before I used to go to work because that was my life, but now I go to work, do my job and then come home to my
real life. The two are completely separate. Nothing's ever the same after having kids because everything is affected by them. It's an absolute game-changer."
Once they had children, escaping to the country was another big change to the life Hermione and her screenwriter husband Simon Wheeler had created for themselves.
They settled for the tranquil and picturesque countryside of Somerset, to give their kids a better upbringing.
"Even though I miss London, it really is lovely living in the countryside," she reveals. "We have dogs and had chickens too, until sadly they all died.
"I've even tried growing my own veges, but sadly I'm not very green-fingered," Hermione admits.
"I'm more of labourer than a gardener. Seriously! I'm one of those people who's rolling around on the floor, ripping up weeds, rather than planting and growing flowers or vegetables. It's nothing pretty, really – I'm just trying to keep on top of it."
Hermione explains that her growing fascination with country living was sparked by her visit to New Zealand in the 1990s, in between filming Cold Feet. While here, she fell in love with our landscapes as she criss-crossed the South Island.
"I think New Zealand is a magnificent place. It's one of the most geographically diverse places I've ever been.
It's ridiculous, isn't it? You go from mountain to arable land to glacial lake in a matter of hours. I love it," she tells.
"I had an amazing time there. I flew to Auckland and then went to the South Island, with a Kiwi friend, and we just drove around everywhere. We even went on a helicopter ride over Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, which was just amazing. It was phenomenal."
The highlight of her trip, though, was watching the sun slowly set over The Remarkables when she was in Queenstown.
"I remember watching the mountains turning pink… It was so spectacular, just standing there! I loved Queenstown," says Hermione wistfully. "It's such a beautiful place."
It wasn't just the breathtaking scenery that captured her heart, though. It was also the lifestyle and laid-back Kiwi culture.
"I felt really jealous of the culture there because there's something about pioneering people – they're strong and they're really proud of their heritage and culture. When I was there, being English just felt a bit rubbish, really,"
she admits, blushing.
"My brother loves New Zealand too and actually ended up living there," she continues. "He was in Auckland for 10 years, but sadly I didn't get a chance to visit him because we had small kids at the time and it was too difficult. And
now he's returned to England, so I'm gutted I didn't get to go out there again.
"What he loved about it was how everyone's in flip flops [jandals], shorts and a T-shirt and nobody judges you or makes assumptions about you. It's not like that in England because we have a class system and everyone's so judgy," she shrugs.
"When someone meets you, they immediately look you up and down, and they can tell, roughly, where you're educated. But it's not like that in New Zealand and he loved how everybody is just kind of on the same level playing field.
"I know he really misses New Zealand and I think they're not quite sure if they made the right choice returning to England. So maybe he'll go back? If he does, this time I'll definitely make sure I visit him – and New Zealand – again!" she exclaims.
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