In Season 2 of the Showtime series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Billie Piper is back as Belle, the high-class call girl who fulfills every man's dreams by night, and who by day is known to her family and friends as Hannah. These eight new episodes will see Belle's life further complicated by a young call-girl-in-training named Bambi (Ashley Madekwe), whom she takes under her wing. And then, she meets Alex (Callum Blue), a handsome doctor whom she mistakes for a client in a hotel bar. While her best friend Ben (Iddo Goldberg), the only person who knows about her secret life, seems to be settling down into domestic bliss, Belle is facing the most difficult question of all -- can you keep having sex for money, if you're falling for love?
After signing a record deal at the age of 15, Billie Piper went on to produce two successful album and three number one singles. In 2003, she hung up the microphone and began to pursue her true ambition -- acting. She quickly found roles in the BBC series The Canterbury Tales and Bella and the Boys, as well as the period dramas Ruby in the Smoke and Mansfield Park. But, it was her role as Rose Tyler on the revamped and immensely popular Doctor Who that would garner her the most attention and earn her "Most Popular Actress" at the 2005 and 2006 National Television Awards.
The 26-year-old British native recently spoke to MediaBlvd Magazine about her time on Doctor Who and what viewers can expect from Season 2 of Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
MediaBlvd Magazine Has Secret Diary also been picked up in England?
Billie Piper Yeah. Series Two has aired in London, and we're about to start filming Series Three in April.
MediaBlvd Why did you want to be a producer on the show now? When did you make that decision, and how tough of a negotiation was it?
Billie I was thinking about it when we were in the mix of Series Two. I really love the show, and it's so much fun. It's such an interesting subject matter. And, I bonded with Becky De Souza, and the other producers on the show. It just seemed, for me personally, like a nice and natural way to go. I love production value, and I really care about the writing, the way it's shot and the way it looks, so I was desperate to be involved. I didn't have to fight too hard, which was quite nice. Everyone was really, really welcoming and embraced the idea, and I didn't feel too stressed about it.
MediaBlvd Since you do a lot of nude scenes, are you worried about getting back in shape, after having ?
Billie Yeah, I'm really worried. The diet starts when I get home. It's so hard to eat well and healthily in L.A. because of the portions of food. It's so good! So, when I get home, the regime starts, and that will be quite intense, I'm sure. It's boring and it's hellish, but if you've got to bare your ass on TV, you don't want it to look bad.
MediaBlvd What will you do to get back in shape?
Billie Running is all I can really be asked to do. As far as I'm concerned, exercise is just the most boring thing in the world. But, if I'm going to do anything, I just pound it on the treadmill because I've got to get it done. I don't really find ways to enjoy it more because that's pointless. You just do whatever works, and running works for me.
MediaBlvd Is it any different, going back to filming, after having given birth?
Billie I've just had Winston about 12 weeks ago, so I'm yet to go back to work. I'm not sure how much it will affect what I do, in the role itself, because it's very, very different to what we're dealing with at home. I'm a very different person at home, so I'm sure it will be just as it's always been. I can't imagine that it's going to be that strange. Once you're in that world, that's the world that you're existing in, pretty much all day long. Then, I go home to the hubby and the child.
MediaBlvd What's the best thing about being a mom?
Billie Just having a new best friend for life. And, the feeling of love. I hadn't ever felt that. I used to think it was so cheesy when people said that, but it's something I finally understand. It's just unconditional. The smiling is really amazing too.
MediaBlvd What have you learned from motherhood?
Billie To be patient.
MediaBlvd What has been the most unexpected part of it, that you weren't prepared for?
Billie Just how tiring it is, and how hard moms have to work. I just had absolutely no idea. I've worked some shitty hours in my life, but these are the toughest hours I've ever had.
MediaBlvd He's not sleeping through the night?
Billie He's a restless sleeper. He gives us hope, and then he changes his routine.
MediaBlvd Were you filming the second season while you were pregnant?
MediaBlvd How was it to do some of those sex scenes during your pregnancy?
Billie We used body doubles for the really hard-core stuff, for obvious reasons. My body was changing and, also, I didn't really want to do that while I was pregnant. So, we had body doubles and clever camera work, and everyone was really accommodating.
MediaBlvd Did you have professional reservations about taking this role, initially?
Billie Not really. Maybe I should have thought about it a bit more. I don't know. I really, really liked the early drafts of the script. I liked the idea. I read the bits of the blog and then the book that it's taken from, and I just thought it would be a lot of fun. I didn't really think about it too much. My family and friends were quite concerned about my mental state and well-being when I was making the show, but they got over it pretty quickly.
MediaBlvd How involved are you with choosing the costumes for Belle?
Billie We work closely, obviously. If you are baring most of your body, it's quite helpful to choose things that you feel comfortable in, so I was quite instrumental in the clothes.
MediaBlvd Do you have professional advisors on this show, and how does that work?
Billie Yes, we do. They were very candid. They would take us around to their flat, where these things take place, and talk you through the evening. They would say, “This is where we have champagne, and these are the toys I offer.” It was bizarre.
MediaBlvd Do they ever come to the set?
Billie We had a dominatrix on set. That was quite interesting. We really needed
her around because there are safe ways of belting someone, and ways that could cause some
MediaBlvd How did she go over with the cast and crew?
Billie She was welcomed with a warm embrace. She was very cool. She was really quite frightening, but she was just very practical and took you through your paces. That was what we liked. She'd get a cup of tea and sit down, and people really liked her company.
MediaBlvd One of the things that Belle/Hannah struggles with the most is the inability to have a normal social life, or a normal adult relationship with somebody, because of the exposure factors. In your research, talking with the real-life women who do this, was that also their biggest struggle?
Billie That was a common trait, in all of the women. A lot of them said that it's very hard to form intimate relationships with guys outside of their work because you're already living a dual life by not telling them about what you do, and the minute you do tell them, they find it hard to come to terms with. They find it hard to get their heads around it and usually end up ending the relationship. I spoke to one woman who said that the saddest and toughest thing about her chosen profession was that she couldn't have that. It caused problems.
MediaBlvd What has the success of this show done for you, professionally? Has it changed the way casting people or directors see you? Have you even had a chance to find out yet?
Billie Not really. Not yet. I'll probably start doing that soon. I would hope it has changed people's opinion of me because, prior to doing the show, I've always done family-related shows, like sci-fi and period drama, that was nothing that offensive. This has definitely changed people's perception of what I can do, and what I want to do. I think that's a good thing, and it's helpful for my career.
MediaBlvd Did you get to do the finale of Doctor Who?
Billie No, 'cause there are four more specials before David Tennant leaves, so I suppose that's not the finale, really.
MediaBlvd Is it just not going to work out?
Billie No. I'm kind of done now.
MediaBlvd Do you think there will ever be a female doctor on Doctor Who?
Billie I don't think the doctor should be a woman. Forgive me, I know it's not a feminist thing to say, but it's like going, "Oh, let's make James Bond a woman." It's a man's role. It's a Time Lord. I've never said that there should be a female doctor. I think David has joked about me doing it, as a way to back off his endless questions about who the next Doctor will be. It was the only question he was ever asked, really.
MediaBlvd Since you worked with him on Secret Diary, does Matt Smith have your vote as the new Doctor?
Billie Big time. I love Matt Smith!
MediaBlvd Even though he's so young?
Billie He's so young, but the fans get too concerned about these things. They should just relax 'cause it's going to be fine. They're in good hands.
MediaBlvd What was he like to work with?
Billie He was lovely! I also worked with him before on the Sally Lockhart mysteries. That's why we were keen to get him in for Secret Diary. He has the perfect energy and zest for life that the Doctor character needs, so I'm sure he'll do a sterling job. And, he's a really sweet guy as well.
MediaBlvd Would you come back as a guest to appear with him?
Billie I don't know. It's hard. Sometimes you just want to leave something behind, and then you see an episode and you're like, "God, I really want to do it!" You change your mind all the time.
MediaBlvd Would you have wanted to continue in the role of Rose Tyler, if you could have?
Billie No. Personally, I think it ran it's natural course. It's nine months of filming in Wales, and that's not really conducive to family life or anything, but being single. You are on set, all day. It's similar to i>Secret Diary</i>, in the way that I am on set all day long, but we only shoot for nine weeks, doing this job. Nine months is hard.
MediaBlvd Did you like the way that Rose's storyline finally wrapped up?
Billie I was pleased with it. It was a great, adventurous and epic finale to the show, and it was really good fun to go back and do.
MediaBlvd You've been in the public eye for a long time, having been a child star. What's been the reaction of people who were enthusiastic about you when you were little, who are seeing you now in i>Secret Diary</i>?
Billie The show is a natural progression to what I've done prior to i>Secret Diary</i>. Some people in the U.K. really loved the transition from family entertainer to what I'm doing now, and some people found it really hard to accept and saw it as quite offensive. But, you can't really please everybody. I don't choose roles on the back of how I'm going to affect the nation. I just choose roles that are going to keep me satisfied, so that I don't feel like I'm stifling my own career. It's been a mixed bag of reactions, but people I meet when I'm in London are very complimentary. I've yet to see where this show takes me, professionally.
MediaBlvd Have you noticed any difference between the U.K. reaction and the U.S. reaction to the show?
Billie In the U.K., they've never seen me in a role like this before, so that was one hurdle they had to overcome, before they could accept the show. But, the show did really well there and people seemed to embrace this new character, after they came to terms with it. In the U.S., it's been nothing but a joy, really. People have been really open-minded, which I wasn't surprised about because, when you look at the line-up on HBO or Showtime, and other stations in the States, TV is really advanced, in terms of ideas. With shows like The Sopranos, Dexter and Weeds, TV in the States is really forward-thinking.
MediaBlvd Do men and women react to this character differently?
Billie Yeah. Men don't come anywhere near me anymore. They seem so threatened by me now. They also just stare for ages, like I'm going to do something wild and raunchy and, much to their disappointment, that never really happens. Men definitely treat me slightly different now. Lots of guys ask me sex-based questions for their own sexual encounters. It's an interesting place to be.
MediaBlvd Do you hear from Doctor Who fans about this role? What is their reaction?
Billie I don't know, actually. Doctor Who fans aren't massively talkative, especially the really intense ones, because they're so into the show that they get freaked out when they meet you. They don't ask me about it.
MediaBlvd What does your husband say about the show?
Billie I married a real winner because he is, seemingly, fine with it. It's not something we sit down and watch as a family, or as a couple, because that would be strange. But, he is very relaxed about it, which is really helpful because, otherwise, that could be testing. Work is work, and he is not a jealous man, so it's fine.
MediaBlvd Have you ever imagined the conversation you'll have with your son, in the future, about your work on Secret Diary? How does that go in your head?
Billie Yeah, loads of times, and it goes really badly. I don't know how it will begin. He's probably going to be quite upset about it. But, I hope to raise him to be open-minded and thoughtful, and accepting of different walks of life. Maybe, with those teachings, he'll be more understanding.
MediaBlvd What made you change your name from Lianne to Billie? Was it for professional reasons?
Billie My parents decided to call me Lianne, and then my dad went to L.A., came back and said "I've changed my mind. Let's call her Billie." I don't know what that was about, but I'm really glad. I quite like my name now. I hated it as a child, for obvious reasons, because Billie rhymes with "willie."
MediaBlvd You've done some period work before. Would you consider going back to that?
Billie Yeah. I quite like period work, which is funny because I never thought I would. The women were very different at that time, so that's always fun to play. Everything is very mannered, censored and uptight. And then, I'll play someone like Hannah and Belle, who has no limits, really. It's an interesting mix.
MediaBlvd How long will you be in production on the third season? And, what are your professional plans for the hiatus when you finish filming?
Billie We shoot for nine weeks. There's pre-production going on now, and there will be post-production after those nine weeks. All in all, it takes about a year. And then, I don't know what happens after that. Obviously, having the show air in the States has been nice, and maybe something will happen here. I'll try to get a role out here, but I also hope to continue to work on good stuff in the UK. I haven't really got a big plan at the moment. I'm sure I'll formulate a plan, at some point.