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Maxine Peake discusses the ‘responsibility’ of playing Anne Williams

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Maxine Peake has spoken candidly about the ‘responsibility’ of playing Anne Williams, who lost her 15 year-old son Kevin to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

The actress, 47, appeared on Tuesday’s This Morning alongside her co-star Stephen Walters, 46, to discuss the new ITV factual drama, Anne.

The programme tells the story of Anne Williams and her campaign for justice, while Stephen will play her husband Steve Williams.

New role: Maxine Peake has spoken candidly about the 'responsibility' of playing Anne Williams, who lost her 15 year-old son Kevin to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989

New role: Maxine Peake has spoken candidly about the ‘responsibility’ of playing Anne Williams, who lost her 15 year-old son Kevin to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989

Kevin was one of 96 people killed during a fatal human crush during a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire on 15 April of that year.

During her appearance, Maxine recalled finding out she had got the part while surrounded by Liverpool supporters at Machester Airport.

She told hosts Rochelle Humes and Vernon Kay: ‘I saw the people and I thought, ‘It’s the responsibility’, because it does mean so much… The trauma does go through generation to generation. I love Liverpool. It’s a proud city.’

Role: Maxine pictured in character as Anne Williams

Role: Maxine pictured in character as Anne Williams

Maxine admitted she ‘didn’t hesitate’ in accepting the role and decided that she wanted to play the part of Anne before even reading the script. 

Anne died aged 62 after dedicating her life to challenging flawed medical evidence accepted at the inquest of her son’s death and its verdict of accidental death.

Before her death, Anne lived to see the truth about the disaster fully established, with the report of the Hillsborough independent panel.

Speaking on playing the part of Anne, Maxine said: ‘When the script came through. You get a call saying there’s a script coming your way and it’s about Anne Williams and before I read the script, I said ‘Oh yes’ and my agent said, ‘Just read it, just in case.’ I definitely didn’t hesitate.’

Stephen, who stars in Outlander, spoke of his own personal experience with Hillsborough when his cousin attended the tragic game.

Co-star: The actress, 47, appeared on Tuesday's This Morning alongside her co-star Stephen Walters, 46, to discuss the new ITV factual drama, Anne

Co-star: The actress, 47, appeared on Tuesday’s This Morning alongside her co-star Stephen Walters, 46, to discuss the new ITV factual drama, Anne

He said: ‘I remember my dad trying to contact my uncle John because his son was at the game, he was a season ticket holder, there was a frantic panic with that. 

‘I remember my brother going to Anfield with his scarf. There was a memorial there, a sea of red and white, flowers, cards, photographs. Everybody had a story like that in the community, whether it was neighbours or school, the reverberations are still felt 30 years later and are still talked about now.’

Maxine went on to say that once people found out she was starring in the drama they were also keen to join the cast. 

On filming in Liverpool, Maxine said, ‘We had a fabulous cast of local actors. When it was announced I was playing Anne, people got in touch, actors I knew saying, “Can you get me in?” It doesn’t normally happen like that. But there are certain stories, especially based on fact. It is part of our sporting history, but it’s part of our wider history.’

Revealed: During her appearance, Maxine recalled finding out she had got the part while surrounded by Liverpool supporters at Machester Airport

Revealed: During her appearance, Maxine recalled finding out she had got the part while surrounded by Liverpool supporters at Machester Airport

On Anne’s resilience, Maxine said, ‘She never gave up. There are times you see in the drama where she maybe felt like it, but she continued on. 

‘You felt she never got bitter. She was angry, but she channelled her anger and that’s what drove her forward. She was very dignified with it. She famously said, ‘They’re trying to grind me down, but I’ll grind them down first.’ 

Stephen then spoke about meeting Steve Williams and finding a bond with him. He revealed, ‘I got to meet Steve and we bonded over music first – we both play guitar and he’s got a pretty impressive album collection. 

‘It’s always a gift to meet someone you’re going to play, but you don’t want to impersonate them, really. You always feel a responsibility whenever you play someone. But when you’re playing someone biographically, you want to try and do justice to that.’

He added: ‘One of the gifts I got from Steve is how people deal differently with grief. He was a very introspective, private guy and he internalised that… whereas Anne was like Inspector Columbo… Steve, I think, was in awe of that, he loved her for that.’

On screen: The programme tells the story of Anne Williams and her campaign for justice, while Stephen will play her husband Steve Williams

On screen: The programme tells the story of Anne Williams and her campaign for justice, while Stephen will play her husband Steve Williams

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