Award-winning actress Melissa De Mol on her role in the international hit series ‘Slave Market’ 

Photo credit: Shahid VIP

English actress Melissa De Mol, who started her career in theatre, has recently appeared in two very different projects – the Egyptian-shot ‘Slave Market’ and the British feature film ‘Gone To Ground’. She talks about immersing herself in her projects, partying on the Nile, and the joy of on-set camaraderie.

How did you get into the film and TV industry?

Having started in theatre when I was a teenager, I’ve been working in TV and film for the past few years on a range of projects, from series to feature films. It is a very different way of working but a lot of fun, and I feel very blessed to have been cast in such great stories.

You’ve just completed filming season 1 of MBC and Shahid VOD’s ‘Slave Market’ – what is the series about?

It’s an epic project telling five different interconnecting stories of slavery from around the world in the late 1800s. There are Indian, African, Caucasian, Middle Eastern and British storylines. I play Emily in the British thread.

What’s your character, Emily, like?

Emily is living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a British overseas posting with her husband, who’s a naval colonel, and her daughter. She’s a strong woman with traditional values and is from a well-respected family in England. They were posted to the Middle East from India as a sort of demotion, after her husband made some poor decisions, and Emily is very much out of her comfort zone. Now she is driven by the need to shield and protect her daughter by any means necessary. Her methods, however, are somewhat questionable.

Photo credit: André Obeid

How was the experience of working on ‘Slave Market’?

It was great – all my scenes were shot in Egypt at Egyptian Media Production City, which is a massive, 9,000-acre media complex. The sets and costumes are incredible, and the series is beautifully shot. Everyone worked very hard and the days could be very long. But the cast and crew were all so professional while also so much fun – I made so many new friends. It was great to work with director Lassaad Oueslati, whose work I really respect. 

How has the project been received, and what’s next for you?

I understand it’s doing very well, especially in India and Saudi, where it’s in the top-five streamed shows, but it’s also doing well in Europe, which is exciting. And the reviews have been good so far.

“Alongside shooting season two of ‘Slave Market’, I’m excited about my upcoming feature film, ‘Gone To Ground’.”

It’s a thriller drama set in an old English farmhouse in the Wiltshire countryside – it’s now in post-production and should be released very soon.

What can you tell us about ‘Gone To Ground’?

It tells the story of Magda, a Polish/English girl, who crashes her car into an old man’s farm. Injured and scared, she tries to regain her memory and build a new life for herself, as Guy (the man) helps her to recover. But nothing is quite as it seems and her past won’t let her go. At its heart it’s a story of self-reconciliation and how we judge others – be it by nationality, age, looks, gender, race… we judge and are judged and we take on roles to protect ourselves. We are very slow to learn the lessons of the past.

Photo credit: Shahid VIP

How does working in the UK compare with working in Egypt?

Both were location shoots, so in both cases the cast and some of the crew were away from home and staying locally. So you really got to know people and be completely immersed in the projects, which I loved.

It was my first time in Egypt and when I was growing up I was obsessed with Ancient Egypt.”

So on my days off I went horseback-riding to the pyramids and even got to go inside, which was a dream come true. I partied on the Nile – there is an incredible music scene in Egypt. In Wiltshire, I had sheep as neighbours, and in Egypt a fantastic swimming pool. So very different, but both great experiences.