A few minutes with Billie Piper

Interview with 'Secret Diary' star

Billie Piper, a former U.K. child star and pop singer, has the title role in "Secret Diary of a Call Girl." Piper probably is best known to U.S. audiences as Rose Tyler, assistant to Doctor Who. THR chief TV critic Barry Garron recently spoke with her.

THR: Were you surprised about what you learned about call girls?

Piper: I've had wild times occasionally, but I felt like I've led quite a conventional life. And there's this underworld, this completely different thing occurring anywhere at any given time with people, and you have no idea about it.

THR: How did people react to your playing this role?

Piper: In the U.K., they've known me since I was a very young girl, and they feel like I've gone AWOL. I'm not the sweetheart anymore, and I've ruined their hopes and dreams. But, you know, acting is a selfish thing for me. I do what makes me feel inspired, what helps me progress as an actor. I don't do things to keep the general public content and peaceful.

THR: Are we hypocritical when it comes to prostitution?

Piper: I think it's such a taboo subject. We watch 'Sex and the City,' and it's fine that these women are liberated and they have filthy sex and they make no bones about it. The thing that upsets people is when money changes hands. That's the bone of contention. The fact that a woman can lie down on her back and take a man and then get paid for it, people find it distasteful.

THR: Was it particularly hard to play sex scenes?

Piper: You can emotionally disconnect from the clumsy, awkward scenes. The intimate emotional sex scenes are really tricky. Basically, you hold your breath and go for it. Not because the guys smelled. (Laughs.) Though we were filming in the height of summer. I really wanted to play the role. I knew there was going to be a certain level of sex and intimacy because I was playing a prostitute, so I had to go with it early on.

THR: Did you keep any of the wardrobe?

Piper: I took many things home. Not because I wanted to wear it but because I thought they were so peaceful and pretty. It's got to stop. It's getting to look like some inappropriate boudoir. But they look really lovely. It's a visual thing for me.