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Interview: Eva Pope - Why Eva's shaken to the core; Eva Pope has a tough decision to make. Should she launch her career in the Big Apple or have another baby?

For someone renowned for being decisive and headstrong, Eva Pope faces a dilemma and is just not sure which way she should go. She risked everything by walking out of Coronation Street six years ago at the height of her fame as scheming barmaid Tanya, but now her future is less certain.

"Really, it's a toss up between going to New York or having a baby," says Eva, 32, who has a daughter called Elise. "I'm so desperate for another baby. I'm terribly broody, have been for ages, but it's getting worse so I'll have to do something about it soon.

"The trouble is, you have to take a lot of time out from work. Every time I think about it, a good job comes up. Then, when I'm out of work, I think I can't do it now, I need to earn money! I can't get pregnant if I'm going to New York - it would defeat the object. I know I've got to make up my mind soon."

She had no such doubts when she unexpectedly quit the Street in 1994, and nor did she need to have. Within a year, she had married Laurence Lassalle, 29, given birth to Elise, and then stopped acting for 18 months to be a full-time mother. She even made a successful comeback on TV, and her latest role is in the thriller My Fragile Heart, which starts tomorrow.

It is because Elise is nearly five and due to start school this autumn that Eva's thoughts are on expanding her family. However, as broody as she is, there is that temptation to launch herself in New York.

"I went there last spring for a month to take classes with Tony Greco, a method acting coach. I loved it so much that I got myself an agent there. I'm going back later this year to look around and see if I can find a place where we can live."

Eva's husband, Laurence, who is a graphic designer, is as enthusiastic about relocating as she is.

"Laurence would find it easier than I would," she says. "He has been designing web sites and is brilliant at it. There's probably lots more work for him than for me, so I might go out on the back of him."

Eva's reasons for leaving Britain might also be due in part to the lack of good roles being pushed her way. Despite carving out a solid career since leaving the Street, in shows like McCallum, Grafters and Four Fathers, Eva has suffered the fate of many thirtysomething actresses who find that the gaps outweigh the periods spent in work.

"Last year wasn't great, it was a bit sporadic," she admits. "When I started back after having Elise, I had a lot of work, but this year and last, it has been quieter."

Her role in My Fragile Heart goes some way to redressing the balance. She plays Ruby, the mother of a teenage girl who is murdered. The chief suspect is a man who has already been branded a child killer 20 years earlier, but who was freed on appeal for wrongful conviction. The tense two-parter also stars Sarah Lancashire and Lorcan Cranitch and, in the wake of the Sarah Payne tragedy, Eva acknowledges it as one of the toughest roles of her career.

"Ruby is a nice character - less gutsy and controlling than the women I usually play," she says. "But it's a horrendous subject. Everybody in the cast had kids so we all found it horrific. My character cries almost all the way through. It could be very depressing so you have to remove yourself from it when you stop doing it. You have to have some detachment." Playing a woman who loses her child reminded Eva of the dangers she and every other parent faces. "While I was making this show, I'd go home to Elise and let her get away with murder just because she was alive. I couldn't help but be affected by it."

Ironically, the drama reunited Eva with Sarah Lancashire, who played another of those famous Coronation Street barmaids, Raquel.

"It was lovely working with Sarah again," says Eva. "This is the first time we have worked together since the Street. She has done so well - it must be great to have the kind of security her new TV deal provides. It's nice to see a woman doing that. Up until now, those kind of deals have usually gone to men."

Like most working mums, Eva says she has pangs of guilt at leaving Elise to go to work and found it hard when she spent a month in New York.

"Elise says she hates it when I go away and that makes me feel incredibly guilty. But if I was a full-time mum, I know I'd be bored out of my mind. Luckily Laurence is flexible with work, so he can come back early if I'm working. I want Elise to know that work isn't some terrible place. She says, 'You love your work more than you love me', but I tell her, 'No, darling, I love you more and I'm doing it partly for you'."

With a new play, Bridges And Harmonies, lined up for the autumn, Eva hopes the quiet spells are over.

"A few years ago, I'd just work, have time off, then work again. When I had my quiet year, I started to look at things differently. I wasn't really happy, I wasn't growing. I've done a few acting courses and workshops since, and it's helped me get back that passion. I've broadened, I think I can do lots more."

Whether she does it here or in America, we'll have to wait and see.

-My Fragile Heart ITV, Sunday and Monday, 9pm.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Hockney, Karen
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 16, 2000
Words:966
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