French actress Josephine Jobert, 31, is back as Sergeant Florence Cassel in the new series of Death In Paradise.
Ahead of this evening’s latest mystery – the death of a hotel billionaire’s fiancee falls from a balcony the day before her lavish wedding – we learn a little more about the TV star.
[Read more: Who is Ardal O’Hanlon – 5 facts about the Death in Paradise’s Jack Mooney]
Why do you think Death in Paradise has become such a big hit?
It’s a family show. It’s not violent. There’s no blood. There are so many series that I like to watch, but sometimes I’m like, ‘It’s too violent’. People beating each other, saying bad words, you have blood – it’s very, very dark. And with Death In Paradise, you have the British sense of humour.
This was your first English langauge role, wasn’t it?
Yeah, this was my first time acting in English. Three years ago, I was terrified, but very excited. The lead actress, it was Sara Martins, she left the show and I was taking her place, so I was afraid because everybody’s looking at you like, ‘OK, so let’s see what you can do’.
Everybody’s judging you in a way, but the crew is fantastic. Learning my lines in French, it’s OK, I can learn pages and pages the day before, but in English you have to think about the accent. I just want people to understand what I’m saying, the rhythm, the stress on the words, you know? But now it’s my third year and I’m more comfortable and more confident.
You must find it tough to leave the island of Guadeloupe when filming ends?
Yes. It [the shoot], it’s a very long time, almost six months. It feels like we’re a little family. We don’t have the chance to go back home at night and see our family so, yeah, you get used to it. You make friends over there, so when you go back to Paris, it’s very different. I like Paris, but it’s a very stressful city. I prefer London.
You must know the island very well by now?
Yeah. It’s a small island. There’s plenty of things to do and to see, but during the weekend I just stay at home because I have a very nice villa with an amazing view. I’m not a party girl. I don’t drink. So during the weekends, I just stay home, learn my lines. My villa is my favourite place – and the gym. I go to the gym four times a week just to stay in good shape because I’m wearing lots of short shorts.
Actress Eva Green is your cousin…
That’s true. Her mother is my father’s sister and my father is white, my mother is black so that’s why we don’t look the same. I don’t know her very well. When we were children, we spent a lot of time together, but then I moved to Montreal when I was 12 for eight years with my mother and stepfather and when I came back to Paris, she was in London, already working a lot. I’m very proud of her.
Would you like to follow suit and play a Bond girl?
You know it’s funny you say that because it’s one of my goals. Everyone around me tells me, ‘You’d be a good James Bond girl’. Why not? I’ll tell my English agent!
There has been a lot in the press about lack of diversity in the industry. Have you encountered this?
Yeah, in France especially, it’s really difficult for black women and even more for mixed race women because they’re too white or too black. It’s not easy. That’s what I’m very proud of with Death In Paradise, that we have so many black actors. In France, it’s very, very difficult and nobody talks about it. It’s taboo. And lots of actors suffer because of that.
Death in Paradise is back for an eighth series! What can we expect this time round?
It’s the best series since the very beginning, to me anyway! It’s very different from all the others. We have love, drama, action, new characters, amazing guest actors, as always, and it’s something I’m very proud of. Episodes five and six are especially more intense so I can’t wait for people to watch!
Where do we find Florence at the beginning of the series? Has anything changed since we last saw her?
At the beginning of the series we find out that she’s dating a lovely guy, Patrice, it’s a brand new relationship; the other characters don’t know anything about it. She’s a bit afraid to tell them because she’s not really sure yet that it’s going to be a serious relationship. Florence is taking her time and she’s waiting for the right moment. We’re going to learn a bit more about Florence this year, both within her private life and work life. She will still be that strong independent woman that she has always been despite being in a relationship, and that’s what I love about her storyline.
How long have they been together?
We don’t really know how long but it’s still new, maybe two or three months.
What does Patrice think about her job?
Patrice is really respectful and he knows that it is very important for her. Florence is very clear about the fact that it’s her career, she doesn’t want him to interfere so he needs to trust her; she knows what she’s doing. Florence wants to keep the professional, professional and the personal, personal. That’s why she’s still the same person as she’s always been.
What is the relationship like between Florence and Jack? They seem to really get on and work well together.
Florence and Jack get on so well! They are so cute together. We have a fun scene where we have a few drinks together, which I really enjoyed. I don’t drink and haven’t since I was younger so trying to remember what it feels like and act drunk was fun. Of course, we can’t drink on set so we used a mix of apple juice and water!
Can you tell us anything about the cases that feature this series?
There is one episode where there is murder in the zoo which was fun to film. There’s also one on a bus which is pretty cool and another where Patrice finds himself involved. There is an episode, where the island hosts a swimming competition and that was hilarious to shoot, running and jumping in the sea is always fun because it’s so hot in Guadeloupe!
Did you have a favourite episode to film?
It was definitely episodes five and six. I had so much fun! I remember waking up in the morning knowing I had a very intense scene to film and I was so excited. Tobi, Shyko, Ardal and I had so much fun filming this series, and the crew were great, we were filming something very different in those episodes and the set was amazing.
The scripts for each episode of Death in Paradise are full of twists and turns. Do you ever guess correctly who the murderer is without peeking at the end? Who is the best at working out who did it?
I don’t even try to, I just read the script, I want to be like the audience and follow the story as each episode develops. There was an episode last year featuring a miracle healer, I remember reading it and at the end I was like ‘no way!’ I was so shocked to find out who the killer was. It’s always full of twists so it’s very difficult to guess. I do live tweets when the show is on TV in the UK and there are not that many people who guess who the killer is. That’s one of the things that is so ingenious about the show.
You’re no stranger to the Caribbean sunshine. What’s it like filming in such a beautiful place in the world?
It can be difficult. When I was 20 it was okay for me to just leave home for a month and be alone and do my own thing. Now I like to be near my family, my friends, my boyfriend. It’s a beautiful place but you do miss your family. It’s a beautiful island, with beautiful beaches. I have a lovely pool, an amazing view so I just swim in the pool, lay in the sun. I can’t complain!
What were the biggest challenges you all faced during the shoot?
Florence is a very secret character so I’ve never had to portray intense emotions such as anger or fear, or being deeply in love so for me the biggest challenge was to portray those emotions. It was great to dig deep inside and bring all those emotions out. It was a challenge but I loved it
Do you have any favourite moments from set that you can share with us?
It’s funny every day. It’s difficult to choose because anytime I’m with the cast on set we just have so much fun together, we laugh so hard it I sometimes have tears in my eyes!
What are you most looking forward to the audience seeing this series?
Two things; the first is the new officer Ruby Patterson, she is so much fun and the audience will love her. Shyko, who plays Ruby, is fantastic! She’s so adorable. I call her ‘mon petit bon bon’, which means my little candy because she’s so cute. The second is episodes five and six which is a double part episode.
Who is Florence Cassell?
Twenty seven year-old Florence Cassell has risen to the rank of Detective Sergeant pretty fast for someone still so young. But that’s because Florence is incredibly good at what she does. She’s dedicated, focused and has a great nose for sniffing out those with a guilty conscience. In short, she makes an excellent detective.
Having grown up in a house full of men (she has five older domineering brothers) she learnt from a young age that to stand out she had to learn to be assertive, to be strong-minded and, above all, to not be a pushover. And growing up in this environment explains why Florence is so good at spotting when someone is lying or hiding something. It’s because she’s seen it all before with her rascal brothers.
But aside from being such a good police officer, Florence is friendly, charming with a winningly mischievous sense of humour – qualities which have endeared her to Humphrey, for whom she has become a close friend as well as a valued colleague and someone he turns to for guidance as he navigates his love life and starts dating Martha.
Who is Joséphine Jobert
Originally born in Paris, Joséphine moved to Montreal at the age of 12 where she learned acting, dancing and singing, eventually returning to France to pursue an acting career. She comes from a family of artists. Her mother is Véronique Rouveyrollis, a photographer, musician, writer, performer and director and her father, Charles Jobert, is a director of photography. She is also cousin to Elsa Lunghini and Eva Green.
She gained notoriety playing Amel in the popular youth show Saint-Ex, nos Années Pension in 2008, and enjoyed 15 weeks in the French pop charts with a song from the show, which Joséphine sang.
Since then, she has continued her success playing long term character Alice Watson in Lightning which won the award for Best Youth Fiction Series at the TV Festival of La Rochelle and is one of France’s most widely exported series. She then landed the part of Roxanne in the popular French soap opera, Sous le Soleil de Saint-Tropez (2013-2014). She also appeared in The Judge Is A Woman, Cut!, Paroles and will feature in the next series of Villa Kariybes.
She joined the cast of Death In Paradise for the fourth series, in January 2015.
Death In Paradise series 8 airs Thursdays at 9pm on BBC One.
Missed an episode? Catch up on BT TV via the BBC iplayer app.