Bella Ramsey ‘didn’t believe’ they could take on Time role until filming started

The Last Of Us star Bella Ramsey has said taking on the role of a drug addict in their latest drama was something they didn’t believe they could do until the first day on set.

Ramsey, 20, who also appeared in Game Of Thrones, said the role of expectant mother and prison inmate Kelsey in the second series of Jimmy McGovern’s drama Time, was the first part they had not had to audition for.

Speaking at a question and answer session following a screening in Liverpool, the actor said it was a “scary” role to take on.

Catherine Called Birdy UK premiere – London
Bella Ramsey attending the UK premiere of Catherine Called Birdy at the Curzon Mayfair (Suzan Moore/PA)

They said: “I’m incredibly naive when it comes to drug use and drug misuse. I knew nothing about the prison system.

“I got sent these scripts asking if I wanted to be a part of it, and that’s the first time I’ve not had to audition for something, which was scary – that you’re going to put that much trust in me when I obviously had no idea what I was doing.

“So I was like, obviously I want to be part of this, but then I was aware of how sensitive the subject matter was and I wanted to make sure I got it right.

“There was research and rehearsals and there was a big element of trust of myself and of everyone else on set that we’d all make sure that it was right.

“So yes, it was scary. And it wasn’t until the day that I got on set for the first time that I believed that I could do it.

“Even through the rehearsals, reading the script, I was like, this is lovely that you’re putting this trust in me but I don’t think…. I was like, this is going to be the one where they’re like ‘Ah, yeah we made a mistake’, but thankfully that didn’t happen.”

Ramsey said the most difficult part of the first episode to film was a scene which sees her attacked by other inmates.

“That was pretty intense,” they said.

“It was hard work as well, just because of the physicality of it, it gets exhausting very quickly.

“Even though you’re not actually going through that trauma, your body doesn’t know the difference between it being real and it not, because you’re still fighting with it at the time.

“The trust element is massive. There was no point I felt unsafe or vulnerable in any way that was negative.

“It was a difficult scene because of the subject matter, but the actual process surrounding it was incredibly kind and supportive.”

Ramsey, who was nominated for an Emmy for their role as Ellie in The Last Of Us, said they felt “so much empathy” for the character.

They said: “I don’t think you can play a character like Kelsey unless you have empathy for them.

“The whole thing was finding her humanity and her vulnerability.

“She’s just a person who’s had a bad start in life and is lost, and just needs some guidance and support, and ends up finding a path through the prison system.”

The second series of Time is set in a women’s prison and stars Jodie Whittaker and Tamara Lawrance alongside Ramsey.

It follows the successful first series, aired in 2021, which saw Stephen Graham as a prison officer and Sean Bean as a convicted drink driver.

Time season two will premiere on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm.