DAILY RECORD - 2015-12-26 ( Brian MCIVER)
ACTRESS SIMONE LAHBIB REVEALS SHOW SHE JUGGLES FILMING DA VINCI'S DEMONS AND HER HOME LIFE
GALLOPING along on a horse with a corset digging into her ribs and an army charging behind her, Simone Lahbib ’s thoughts turned to the school run.
Surrounded by dozens of actors and extras all ready to charge into battle at the snap of a clapperboard and the wave of her hand, she couldn’t help herself from smiling at the thought of how brilliant her job was.
Just a few hours earlier, the Scots actress had dropped her daughter Skye off at school in London.
Now here she was, shooting action scenes for hit Fox series Da Vinci’s Demons, where she has played a central role in the concluding episodes.
The Bad Girls and Wire in the Blood star plays 15th-century feminist Laura Cereta, who takes on the Pope to wage a holy war in defence of Florence.
The hit US cable import comes to a gripping conclusion tomorrow night.
Simone, 50, has enjoyed a varied career of exciting parts and popular shows but says her latest role is definitely one of the most enjoyable she has ever taken on.
She said: “I had a great time with this one. It was a fantastic adventure being this amazing and very powerful woman.
“I loved being this royal figure in full armour doing a speech calling to war on the Vatican balcony and then riding into battles with an army behind me – it was just awesome and I kept thinking, ‘What a brilliant job’.
“There was one moment, when I was sitting on my horse seeing all the action happen around me, and I just kept thinking, ‘I can’t wait to tell the mums on the school run what I’ve been up to today. They’ll never believe me’.”
And that is the great balancing act of the Scots actress’s life in a nutshell.
She is one of British television’s most successful actresses, with a long line of hit shows from The Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star to recent hits such as Wire in the Blood.
But the rest of the time, she is a devoted mother to 10-year-old Skye, who is an actress herself.
Simone, originally from Stirling , runs a production company with husband Raffaello Degruttola, and has her own performing arts school.
On top of all that she is a dedicated fundraiser for the charity created in the name of her niece Eilidh Brown, who died of cancer five years ago aged 15.
But Simone would never complain about being too busy.
She said: “A job like Da Vinci’s Demons was amazing. The costumes werebeautiful, not very comfortable because it was all corsets and heavy velvets, but I felt very lucky to be doing this job.
“It was tough going as practically every day I was going backwards and forwards between Wales, where we were shooting, and home in London because I didn’t want to be away from my daughter.
“I was also working the weekends at my performing arts school 360 Arts.
“Then I was coming home to iron school uniforms and checking the scripts to see which days I would have to spend two days away for, and which days I could come home.
“I’ve been finding the last year has been very entrepreneurial with that, as well as voiceover work, and so many different projects.
“It’s great, I love it like this, it’s a lot of juggling and on top of that, I have a 10-year-old daughter who has been doing her bits and pieces too.
“I am at 360 every week, I have teachers who work there all the time, but I will do acting classes and even stepped in to do dancing classes recently. It’s fantastic because a lot of the kids are doing really well and having a lot of success.”
As well as working on shows like Da Vinci’s Demons and Crossing Lines, Simone has been enjoying seeing one of her former hits come back to life.
She said: “Bad Girls is running on the CBS Action channel at the moment and they are repeating the whole show from beginning to end, so it’s on every night of the week and it’s interesting to see new people getting into the show.
“I’ve seen people talk about it, saying things like, ‘I remember my mum being into this show when I was wee.’ It’s now finding a new audience, and even though I look at it and think it’s dated, it is attracting a younger audience.
“I’ve been really lucky in my career and really enjoyed working on all these big shows. Sometimes if you are doing a smaller job or a film, you are only in there for a few days but on a major series you are going into work every day and I like that, I’m a grafter.
“I still continue to enjoy learning new skills and still moving forward.”
As part of that, she has loved her big budget adventures in Wales, which has doubled for medieval Italy for the show created by The Dark Knight writer David S Goyer.
The series, which also stars Tom Riley and Laura Haddock, concludes tomorrow after three years, with Simone joining this season. She said: “It was a great job, it’s just a shame it was the last one but at least I got to be a part of it.
“The character of Laura Cereta was a real person and I did quite a bit of research on her.
“She was considered one of the first feminist writers. She was alive at the same time as Leonardo Da Vinci but their ages were slightly off-kilter.
“She wrote these beautiful Latin letters and really believed in education for women, which was very unusual for the age. She was educated, could write and had an opinion on everything, marriage, family, war, all sorts of things, even though she had a very short life (dying aged 30).
“She lost her bottle towards the end, as she was shouted down by a lot of people and stopped wiring. But in the show, my Laura takes to the battlefield, gets on the horse and leads the way.”