VIP Magazine got to sit down with Aidan Turner and Ella Lily Hyland. The Irish duo are appearing in Prime Video series, Fifteen-Love alongside one another.
The series tells the story of a young tennis star’s dreams being crushed after an injury. However, after reminiscing on her career she realises just how dangerous her relationship with her coach was.
While their characters, Glenn and Justine are pretty serious, these two are in high spirits as we chat ahead of the series coming out.
From tennis to Irish roots, here’s what they had to say.
Hey Aidan and Ella. How are you? Firstly, Aidan, your character isn’t exactly a very nice man. What drew you to the role?
There was definitely an impact. I thought it was really complicated and complex. I thought it’d be really challenging to play somebody who has lots of different masks like he has a public persona, the coach, there is a professional element to it too with this tennis Academy and his like brand as such as a tennis coach and the professional that he associates with. Then there’s this is personal relationships, his family relationships, the relationships he has with his friends.
This is a guy who has burner phones. How do we sort of orchestrate this where’s the fluidity in his life that we see these masks that seamlessly kind of come on and off with different people. I thought that’d be really challenging to play, that was what I thought initially. There’s a delicacy in the character too because it would be so easy to villainize. There’s a stock character that can be played certainly in a place like this.
I was just really eager to make this guy somebody who is just everything that he thinks, charming and articulate, he’s a skilled tennis coach, affable, funny, popular. He’s a good dad, a good family, all of these things, he really is just a real success. when we see characters like that we want to know what’s under that surface then and when we pick at it a bit you can see something that’s more sinister and more dangerous. I kind of wanted the beginnings of this character to have that on the outside and then see if there’s something more sinister on the inside.
Ella, this is a very serious story. Did you feel a pressure to tell it?
Less of a pressure but more so kind of an urgency to tell it. A note I had from the beginning was like this is like a love story for Justine so anything that happened after that felt like it could be surprising. I was just kind of following that instinct. Definitely doing the research and realising I could research it for like three years and sadly that’s how many cases of this kind of thing there are. If anything it just gives you kind of a sense of importance or like a big visceral feeling while telling the story. It’s a feeling that this is real and this happens and this is you know important.
It must have been tough preparing to play Justine. What kind of preparations went into it?
I had a lot of conversations and liked difficult conversations with people and which was really essential to the storytelling for me. I think for Justine and all young athletes, her role is a tennis prodigy and tennis star. All of the circumference of your life and all of those relationships and the value that’s in each of those relationships comes from tennis and being the tennis star. When you take the tennis away then the value of every single relationship on that circumference is diminished. Then a shell of a person is left but the instinct of that athletic instinct is still there.
I think the best part about this whole process for me was getting to train because it was like so physical. I’m also trying to understand Glenn and her dad and everyone who’s trained her to have this kind of primal athleticism and to trust this primal instinct. But then when she has no sport to put that in she’s just kind of working but then she’s in the real world I guess and she really doesn’t know how to be there. Her impulses take her to every step and then her mind plays catch up to that.
Both Glenn and Justine are English and you two are Irish. Did you ever think your characters could be Irish?
Ella: You were going to play Glenn as a Keryman at one stage. He would have been lovely as a Kerryman, he would have been really endearing. [Laughs]
Aidan: Was I? [Laughs] It’s funny when you get a script, a part of me does go, “Does he need to be British? Does he need to be American?” It’s the authenticity of your own accent that could be useful. But for this no, it was never a thought. Sometimes it raises more questions than it needs. It becomes just a distraction. It just makes sense that he’s English. In the early days, we were talking about his background and he was probably a public schoolboy, so he has this posher accent and an affluent family. It just makes sense for his trajectory. So to suddenly make him Irish, the wheels start to come off. I think it would have distracted from a very important story that were trying to tell.
Did you get the chance to train together on the tennis court?
Ella: We did do one session together, that was the first time I met you. I remember feeling really scared because I felt like I actually had to be a professional tennis player but no one was asking me to be that. I was living with that anxiety for quite a while. Then Aidan then comes out with these really good serves and I was like, “Well done. Really good.”
Aidan: When I showed up you had been training for at least a month prior or something. You guys got it really early. You guys were doing serves that looked so professional. If you’re not doing it to 12 it’s not in your blood or your body. There are so many moving bits.
Tennis is such an intense sport. Tennis players get this rep of being aggressive and egotistical. Do you think this story could have been told in any other sport?
Aidan: You cannot be serious – John McEnroe. He was a really aggressive tennis player. He would say shit like that.
Ella: That dynamic is literally like it’s like ‘hit, hit, hit’. That helped me.
Aidan: The world of tennis is what surprised me because when we started going to these kinds of facilities like Stratford or these places, they were so vacuous. They’re huge, there’s 12 indoor court, then there’s half a dozen outdoor courts, then there’s like a pool area, a spa and a physio and changing rooms.
There are all these different places. We’re dealing with individual sport it’s not a team sport it’s just you and the coach. A lot of times you have coaches who are just with that one player in the same case or the dark corner of this facility. It wouldn’t be the same football, it is these individual sports. And it’s not just tennis there are loads of them where you’re one on one with the coach. When we went to the facilities I realised how these could be problematic. It requires a lot of trust on every level.
Fifteen-Love will launch on Prime Video on 21st July