‘Baby Reindeer’ Actress Jessica Gunning Says Stalker Character Martha Was “Never A Villain”

The female star of Baby Reindeer says she felt a sense of responsibility for her co-star Richard Gadd, who wrote the Netflix drama about a stalker and her victim, based on his own real-life experience of being targeted.

In the series which has topped the Netflix charts on both sides of the Atlantic since its release last week, Jessica Gunning plays Martha who meets kindly barman Donny. Their harmless first encounter becomes chilling as Martha harasses Donny.

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Scottish comedian Gadd, who plays Donny in the show, based the story on an earlier period in his real life, in which he had been abused by an older man, and went on to become a target of stalking.

Gunning told the BBC she felt the need to check in with Gadd during filming, particularly the more harrowing scenes of grooming and assault seen in episode four out of seven:

“That was a really tough time. Richard was so amazingly brave and vulnerable and open to reliving all of that. I was so impressed with him.”

Gunning, who has previously appeared in BBC comedy The Outlaws and the film Pride, said she felt it was important not to play Martha as a villain. She explained:

“I never saw her as a villain. I don’t think you can do if you’re playing that kind of part. I always saw her as multifaceted and complicated.

“I think Martha sees him in the way Donny wants to be seen, at a time in his life when he is so low, lonely and lost. In a way, it was kind of perfect timing for her to come into his life.”

Gunning says she is gratified by the show’s success: “When I watched all the seven episodes, I thought this will be like a cult hit and, over a few weeks word of mouth will spread. So never, ever, did I think that within a week of it being out, it would have this kind of buzz.”

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