Billie Piper is getting ready to dress up, strip down and get paid to fulfill men's fantasies between the sheets — on screen, at least. In Showtime's Secret Diary of Call Girl, the U.K. native and new mother has her hands full as a high-end escort in London, walking the line between her public persona as Hannah and her private profession, where clients know her as Belle.
Piper, who began her career in England as a pop star, has tackled a range of roles since segueing into acting, from Fanny Price in Mansfield Park to Rose Tyler in Doctor Who. At the start of her second season as Belle (Secret Diary premieres Sunday, Jan. 18/10:30 pm/ET), TVGuide.com caught up with her to find out where Hannah's exploits will pick up, if her character will ever find love and how Piper will bring even more to the show for Season 3. Stay tuned for Part II of our chat with her next week.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations! I hear you have some big news, off-camera?
Billie Piper: I have a new baby, so it's all quite full-on at the moment. You spend a lot of time awake! I think the worst of the bad sleeping is drawing to an end... . His name is Winston.
TVGuide.com: In the meantime, Secret Diary is returning. Where do we pick up in the second season?
Piper: We get to explore the Hannah side of her character. It's slightly less about the work, more about her as a person and how her vocation and her personal life collide, mainly because she falls in love for the first time in ages. And for the first time ever, she starts to question whether she's in the right profession, and whether she can carry on, because she's fallen for someone that's got no idea that she's a high-end hooker. So, there's more lies and deceit going on, and it's interesting to watch two worlds in a head-on collision.
And then, her relationship with [her best friend and former boyfriend] Ben — actually something big happens in the second season with her and Ben, which is quite — twisted [laughs].
TVGuide.com: Uh-oh. I was praying that the breakup with his fiancée would leave the door open for them as a couple. Is that something they're going to explore?
Piper: I know! They're ideal for one another. But some big stuff goes down with them, and their relationship is on the line yet again, and it's as tempestuous and mad as it always is. And then you get your different clients, with his different needs and desires every week. So we're still pushing boundaries with the clients and more factual, fascinating client stories.
TVGuide.com: Are all of the client scenarios [in which we meet Belle's Johns] derived directly from the original book [the autobiography that the series is based on]? Or are they extrapolated into their own at this point?
Piper: They're all from the horse's mouth, so to speak, but they're not all from the book and Belle herself. Some of them have originated from other sources. We've met with various high-end hookers, and they've told us their stories and we've incorporated them into our stories ... If we were to make these things up, I think it would be slightly irresponsible.
TVGuide.com: There were several refrains throughout the first season, one being why Belle is doing this. Is she going to question more of that?
Piper: She certainly questions it more in Season 2. In Season 1 when you meet her, she's not that far into her profession, she's quite green and quite new. It's very hard to live a dual life, to hide a massive part of your existence from people that you love. And she comes into trouble with that.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think she pursues prostitution?
Piper: I think it has to do with power, and control and the fact that she enjoys turning men on, and that they like her and they're fascinated by her ... And the other part is the cash. She has this kind of great pad, and these amazing clothes, and I think she's seduced by all of that. And that fact that she can order men around, the whole thing is one big turn-on for her. And I also think she just prefers the company of men ... it's good for some people's egos. But I think there's something in her personality that few of us possess, which is that ability to emotionally disconnect from sex. Often I'm asked, 'Do you not think this show is advocating prostitution?' It's like, well, if we all had that ability to emotionally disconnect, I think far more of us would be having sex for cash. We can't. It's not something all of us can do.
TVGuide.com: Now that Season 2 has wrapped, are there any other professional projects you're pursuing or dreaming of?
Piper: We'll start Season 3 at the end of March. I think I'm going to be executive producing.
TVGuide.com: That's great news.
Piper: It's cool, I'm really excited. And so, I'll be doing pre-production, working on scripts. But I'm going to wait for the right thing to come along and until that happens, spend time with my son ... I don't really want to rush into anything that isn't right or doesn't inspire me.
TVGuide.com: Do you see yourself moving toward producing roles?
Piper: I would love to produce. So, it's ideal having this exec producing role on the season, because it's a way for me to cut my teeth, and learn the ropes and be more involved. And in the future, maybe start something up myself with my husband.