Old interview #9: “Doctor Jemma’s Acid House Call”

The Mirror

January 5, 1999, Tuesday

DOCTOR JEMMA’S ACID HOUSE CALL; ROSE TURNS BLUE

BYLINE: Exclusive: By Gavin Docherty

SHE is a gem among Britain’s best known theatrical dynasty and famous for portraying the perfect English rose.

But Bramwell star Jemma Redgrave is about to trash her goodie two shoes image with an all out assault on a new Scots movie.

In The Acid House, Irvine Welsh’s controversial follow-up to Trainspotting, she’ll shock fans with a string of four letter words and obscenities

Jemma, 33, and Men Behaving Badly star Martin Clunes team up to play the parents of a devil baby in the darkest of black comedies.

Rattles at the ready – the film hit the cinemas last week and Redgrave just can’t wait to see the reaction of audiences.

Jemma is the daughter of actor Corin Redgrave and granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave, as well as being the niece of Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.

She said: “Having done period drama for two years, to go to Scotland and be able to say ‘f***’ a lot and work with Martin and wear jeans was great.”

The otherwise genteel Ms Redgrave swears by her role in this demented fantasy from the pen of the celebrated bad boy of Scottish literature.

“I got this script and I thought this is the most bizarre thing I have ever read in my life – I just had to do it.”

Even by Welsh’s outrageous standards, The Acid House must rate as one of the sickest movies ever.

It’s the story of Jenna Moore and Rory Weston, a yuppie Edinburgh couple whose baby is born in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm in an ambulance en route to a maternity unit.

The birth happens at the same time as Hibs supporter and Pilton punk, Coco Bryce (Ewen Bremner), is wandering around aimlessly, high on a terrifying LSD trip.

In a grotesque plot twist that combines Chucky Doll horror with X-Files fantasy, a bolt of lightning hits the ambulance and the soul of the acid head switches with the soul of the baby.

Next day the police find the near-comatose punk whom they think is in a kind of drug- induced catatonic state.

In fact, he is a newborn baby and can only gurgle and cry.

Meantime, Jenna and Rory’s baby has the brain of the 18-year-old and begins to speak to the mother at eight months.

She immediately thinks she has a genius.

The mother has no idea that her newborn baby is possessed by the malevolent spirit of Bryce.

But she begins to suspect something is terribly wrong when he prefers steak to Farleys Rusks, his breath begins to smell of alcohol and she finds empty bottles of wine under the cot.

He also demands to be taken to the Easter Road terracing to watch a Hibs game.

The film, shot at locations in Glasgow and Edinburgh, will be screened with two other Welsh shorts, The Soft Touch and The Granton Star Cause.

For The Acid House, Jemma spent many hours filming complicated scenes with a lifelike doll operated by animatronics.

She explained: “You are working with a mechanical doll and everywhere you go the baby has to be carried around.

“You are being followed by four puppeteers who were all working different bits of this thing. Someone else was doing the baby’s dialogue.”

She’s read Welsh’s hit novel Trainspotting previously, and it was sufficient to know she was on to someone who was an extraordinary writer.

“He is an incredibly powerful and individual voice,” she continued.

“I got sent the script and I said ‘great!’

“It is the most bizarre story. It didn’t quite know what it was – comedy, science fiction, X- Files genre or tragedy. Martin defined the scenes as comic and I think it is a very funny story.”

Off-screen, Jemma is blissfully playing happy families for real, having reunited recently with her barrister husband, Tim Owen, after an 18- month separation.

The pair are now living together again in North London with their four-year -old son Gabriel.

She said: “Tim is a fantastic and very devoted father. Juggling family and work can be tricky but he really is a wonderful support.”