Girls star Desiree Akhavan: I knew I had to cast Maxine Peake in my TV show before I’d even seen her

Robert Dex
New series: Desiree Akhavan in The Bisexual: Tereza Cervenova

Former Girls star Desiree Akhavan says she knew she had to cast Maxine Peake in her new east London comedy The Bisexual before she had even seen her on screen.

In the show she plays Leila, who starts dating men and women when she splits up with Peake’s character Sadie. Akhavan, a native New Yorker who has lived in London for three years, said: “One of my favourite things about working in the UK is I don’t come to any actors with baggage.

"I didn’t grow up with a lot of these actors and Maxine was someone whose work I was not familiar with. Everyone who read the script would say, ‘Sadie’s the Maxine Peake type’.

"She is someone with intelligence and integrity and a very trustworthy, loveable woman so when it came to finding her she was the top of our list, the ideal candidate.”

Starring role: Maxine Peake will play Sadie in The Bisexual

Peake said: “I’m thrilled? Or am I excited? Maybe I’m both but at the least very happy to be part of The Bisexual. Desiree is a really fresh, original and exciting voice and dead cool to boot. It’s fun, heartbreaking and thought-provoking and I get to ride a scooter — what’s not to like?”

​Akhavan, who played Chandra in series four of Lena Dunham’s cult hit Girls, wants the show to dispel the taboo around bisexuality.

She said: “It is so taboo that I feel uncomfortable saying it. The root of all of this, the reason I wanted to write all this, is because I hated calling myself that. I think people think, ‘Why would you not choose?’ And I think it’s hard for people to relate to, being equally attracted to men and women.”

Akhavan said the show was “a lot about London”. She added: “We’re shooting everything in Hackney. London is the most diverse place I’ve ever been, more so than New York, it’s much more of a world vibe.”

The Bisexual arrives on Channel 4 later this year.

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