If Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells have any regrets in their lives, it’s filming the pilot for their new series – minus hair styling and make-up.
“We just wanted to film 20 minutes to see if it was something we were going to make,” says Wells, 41, who’s previously appeared in Star Stories, The IT Crowd and Peep Show. “I flew out to LA for three days, we all put in 150 Dollars and we shot it guerrilla-style in a trailer.”
Doll & Em sees the real-life best friends play heightened versions of themselves. It went on to be picked up by Sky – and HBO, which means it’ll air in the US too.
Aside from everyone seeing them au natural, the pair are sure people will have an opinion on them using their own names – another impromptu decision the director, Azazel Jacobs, decided to run with.
“We didn’t quite have the energy to argue ourselves out of it. It’s only now when we see billboards emblazoned with ‘DOLL & EM’ that we think our friends are going to hate us,” says 42-year-old Mortimer, laughing.
“But in a way, I’m glad he didn’t let us change it. It allowed us to go to quite dark, weird places, because we were being ourselves.”
With roles in Woody Allen’s Match Point and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island among her credits, Mortimer’s the bigger star of the two.
It’s a dynamic the pair play on in this semi-improvised comedy, which explores what happens when a Hollywood actress hires her childhood friend to be her personal assistant.
“That co-dependent dynamic was fascinating to us,” admits Mortimer.
The series begins with an inconsolable Doll ringing Em from London after breaking up with her boyfriend, interrupting the actress while she’s walking a red carpet with Bradley Cooper (one of numerous famous cameos – Chloe Sevigny, John Cusack, Andy Garcia and Susan Sarandon also pop up).
“Susan was amazing, so willing to be silly and as a result, she seems sexier and more beautiful than ever,” reveals Mortimer.
“But then none of them came in with weird attitudes where you had to coddle them or change things to make them happy.”
The pair were determined to retain the feeling they’d experienced while filming the pilot.
“It was like being a kid again, putting on a play for your parents,” says Wells. “It was really fun and we tried to make it feel like that throughout the series.”
* Doll & Em begins on Sky Living on Tuesday, February 18