Eastenders actress Gillian Wright has been powerfully portraying Jean Slater’s battle with ovarian cancer on the soap series, and has revealed she came close to shaving her head to make the portrayal as real as possible.
The star, who ultimately wore a bald cap for her scenes, revealed that she had to endure three hours of complete stillness in the make-up chair in order to get the final realistic look.
Admitting she considered shaving her hair off completely, speaking to Lorraine Gillian discussed the reasons why she ultimately didn’t.
She said: ‘I did give that a lot of thought but there were two main reasons that I didn’t go down that path and one was logistics. Rob Kazinsky, who plays my son, his availability meant we had to that week’s storyline way early in the year.’
‘So all the stuff that I did with climbing the O2 and all of that was done afterwards which meant I would’ve had to have worn a wig to look like me – which I thought it was a bit risky at the top of the O2! It’s a bit windy,’ she joked.
However, there was another, more poignant reason behind her decision that ultimately went into the bald cap option’s favour.
‘I’ve got dear friends and family who are going through, or have gone through treatment for cancer, some of whom have lost their hair,’ she added. ‘It didn’t sit right with me to do this as a game of pretend.’
Gillian’s character Jean was reunited with her son Sean (Rob Kazinsky) for an emotional week focusing on mental health in early May.
Jean, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was seen attempting to help Sean with his depression as he considered suicide.
It ended in a powerful episode which saw Jean – having narrowly escaped death in an accident which left her bleeding heavily – managing to talk him round after a day’s mother-son bonding.
That day also featured a touching moment in which Sean shaved his mum’s head for her as she continued to lose her hair to the chemotherapy treatment she is currently facing – something that Gillian sat in the make-up chair for five hours for.
The heartbreaking scenes caused actor Rob to open up about his own battles, and encouraged others to get the help they needed.
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