The Serpent's Jenna Coleman reveals new backpacking murder drama was the 'scariest challenge' of her career

The Serpent's Jenna Coleman has revealed the new backpacking murder drama was the 'scariest challenge' of her career.

The 34-year-old has swapped her regal role as Queen Victoria in the ITV period drama for a serial killer's accomplice in the new BBC series.

Jenna plays Marie-Andrée Leclerc, who is besotted with her lover, serial killer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim), and helps him carry out his crimes.

The new BBC drama depicts the true story of Sobhraj’s reign of terror as he killed countless travellers in Thailand, Nepal and India during the 1970s, drugging them and often stealing their identities.

Speaking about her new role, Jenna revealed one of her biggest hurdles was nailing Marie-Andrée’s French-Canadian accent.

She said: "Both her French-Canadian accent when speaking English, and then her French-Canadian accent when speaking French. To try and find that was really hard.

"Many of the actors I was filming with are French themselves, so to try and work authentically within that realm was a big challenge.

"It was probably professionally one of the scariest challenges – to go from learning it from scratch to within two months being on set opposite Tahar and speaking in French. A good challenge, but a big challenge."

Charles was eventually caught and jailed for his crimes, as was his accomplice Marie-Andrée.

Discussing whether she saw Marie-Andrée as a victim, Jenna said: "I find her so fascinating.

"She has so much faith in love and is such a romantic that upon meeting Charles she kind of embroils herself in her own incorrect vision of what she thinks this environment is.

"She constructs her own false narrative and is so delusional. I think that’s the only way she can remain in the world, knowing underneath what terrible, despicable acts are really happening and she is helping him commit."

Jenna continued: "Reading the real Marie-Andrée’s diaries, Charles to her is almost like a religion. Everything is about him. She places every waking breath upon the way he treats her – it’s an utter, utter fixation. 

"I do think there’s a choice that she makes – and the choice that she makes is to ignore the truth.  Because to acknowledge the truth is to put her in a reality that she doesn’t want to be in."

The Serpent begins at 9pm on New Year's Day on BBC One.

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