Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

The joy of Hex

Sunday Life talks to up-and-coming Magherafelt actress Laura Pyper about her role on the popular TV series, Hex

CORSETS, thigh-high boots, being burnt at the stake... not the sort of thing you usually associate with a girl from Magherafelt (well, certainly not these days), but then not many young women from the Co Derry town have been dubbed by the national tabloids as 'Hex on Legs'.

CORSETS, thigh-high boots, being burnt at the stake... not the sort of thing you usually associate with a girl from Magherafelt (well, certainly not these days), but then not many young women from the Co Derry town have been dubbed by the national tabloids as 'Hex on Legs'.

"I think that quote's hilarious," laughs 25-year-old Laura Pyper, the female in question. "But it's quite apt because of the leather and corsets and I have to admit, I'm quite flattered, but it's all just part of the job."

Actress Laura is one of the stars of popular Sky One series, Hex (the UK's Buffy), which follows the sexy and supernatural goings-on in an English school.

The series, now in its second season, features Laura as action girl, Ella, a 500-year-old witch who has been tracking the forces of evil through time and arrives to rid the school of Azazeal (played by fellow Irish actor and Guinness advertisement hunk, Michael Fassbender) and his evil creatures.

"Ella's very physical," admits Laura. "I've had to learn to swordfight in three days and do judo. There's a lot of stuntwork involved, which I do myself.

"I was burned at the stake in one episode, but I managed not to get singed or anything like that."

As well as sexy females, the cast of Hex has more than its fair share of male eye candy, most notably the aforementioned Mr Fassbender.

"Michael's a bit of a heart-throb," admits Laura. He has this amazing quality where you turn a camera on him and he's just to die for - full of charisma and very, very charming."

But like the outfits, it's all just for the camera, Laura's very happily attached to boyfriend, fellow actor Chris O'Dowd.

"He's very supportive and of course he loves the leather and corsets," laughs Laura.

"They've gone down surprisingly well in Magherafelt as well. Everyone wants to know where my leather coat comes from.

"The outfits were loads of fun to wear, but there were days, especially after lunch, when the corsets got a bit tight, but it was great to be able to wear such adventurous clothes."

Laura, now based in London, first caught the acting bug when she performed in a play at the Rainey Endowed secondary school in Magherafelt and went on to study English and drama at Trinity College, Dublin.

While studying, she landed a part in Reign of Fire alongside Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey ("Really nice, down-to-earth guys.").

After that parts followed in the movie Headrush and TV film Omagh, plus a guest appearance in Holby City.

And in January, she's off to South Africa to star alongside 'rock goth' Marilyn Manson in Living Neon Dreams, a modern day take on the Alice in Wonderland story.

"Marilyn's the only one wearing leather this time," laughs Laura. "I'm playing one of Alice's sisters."

Despite her success, Laura's feet remain firmly on the ground, thanks to her Magherafelt roots.

"I don't come from an acting background at all. At the start, my parents were like, 'Ah, she'll get over it. It's just a phase.' But then they became really supportive and now, they are fantastic.

"I've two brothers and two sisters and none of them are into acting. My little brother, who is 18, finds it hilarious that his friends have a picture of me as their screensavers. He's suddenly become very popular!"

And so has Laura...

"The great thing about Hex is that it has built up a really loyal fanbase and I've started to receive some fanmail - nothing weird or scary, just from normal people... I think.

"But no one has got carried away with it."

And as for stardom?

Adds Laura: "I don't have any interest in moving to Hollywood... maybe someday.

"At the minute, I'm really happy in London and with the way things are going.

"I'm coming home to Magherafelt for Christmas, though. I couldn't not. I love coming home for Christmas."

lHex is on Sky One on Sunday nights at 9pm.

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