Baby Reindeer’s Jessica Gunning details ‘emotionally heavy’ experience of playing Martha

Jessica Gunning has said she found the experience of playing Martha Scott in Richard Gadd’s Netflix series Baby Reindeer mentally and physically draining.

In the series, Gadd plays a fictionalised version of himself who gets stalked by a lonely and mentally ill woman called Martha after meeting her in the pub where he works.

Gunning said portraying Gadd’s stalker was the first time in her 17 year career where a role has haunted her after filming for the series has finished.

Speaking to the Radio Times, the actor revealed she struggled to “shift the feeling of the role” of Martha and the “feeling of the experience” after Baby Reindeer wrapped.

“Especially on those high-intensity scenes, like at the bus stop, or when Donny [Gadd] takes Martha back to her house, those were emotionally heavy days,” she said.

“Your body doesn’t really know sometimes that you’re pretending. There was an adrenaline for all of us that felt like we had been in that experience.

“You were left in that charged place.”

Jessica Gunning as Martha in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Netflix)
Jessica Gunning as Martha in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Netflix)

It comes after Gunning previously called out fans of the series who had tried to uncover the identities of the real people who inspired the Netflix show.

Although the story is rooted in real events, Gadd changed names and specific details of the story to protect the identities of the people involved.

“I think it’s a real, real shame, because it shows that they haven’t watched the show properly,” she told Glamour.

“Netflix and Richard [Gadd] went to extreme lengths to try and make sure that the identities were kept private for a reason.”.

Richard Gadd and Gunning in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Netflix)
Richard Gadd and Gunning in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Netflix)

Scottish lawyer Fiona Harvey, 58, who claims she is the ‘real’ Martha - appeared on Piers Morgan’s Uncensored this month to “set the record straight” after fans of the show “unmasked” her by matching social media posts featured in the series with her own.

During the interview, which has amassed over 10 million views,Harvey denied that she had any criminal convictions during her interview and said the Netflix show’s suggestion that she did was “defamatory”. She has threatened to sue the streaming service.

In Baby Reindeer, which has been watched by 65 million people and makes the statement ‘this is a true story’, it is suggested that stalker ‘Martha’ goes to prison. However, there has been little evidence found to prove this.

Fiona Harvey on ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored’ (YouTube)
Fiona Harvey on ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored’ (YouTube)

Scottish MP John Nicolson has since written to Netflix to substantiate what it told a Parliamentary committee in regards to the accuracy of the TV show.

Netflix executive Benjamin King told the Culture Media and Sport Committee: “obviously a true story of the horrific abuse that the writer and protagonist Richard Gadd suffered at the hands of a convicted stalker”.

However, Nicolson said it is clear this evidence is “disputed” and said he would be writing to the company to “ask them to substantiate the claim they made”.

The Independent has contacted Netflix for a comment.