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Hannah Murray

Independent on Sunday, The,  Feb 10, 2008  by WORDS BY LUIZA SAUMA

Skins Monsday 10pm E4

You wouldn't call it a typical gap year. While her peers are backpacking around Australia or finding themselves in the Far East, 18-year-old Hannah Murray has been hard at work filming the second series of Skins, the smash-hit Bristol-set drama in which teenagers actually behave like teenagers. No Dawson's Creek pseudo intellectualism here - the protagonists of Skins go to parties, have crushes, engage in reckless sex and take drugs as if they were going out of fashion. No wonder British teens have taken the show into their hearts. Murray reprises her role as loveable space-cake Cassie, the recovering anorexic with a tentative grip on reality. At the end of the last series, she finally had her way with geeky Sid (Mike Bailey), but then promptly moved to Scotland.

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The young actress comes across as a level-headed sort - after her gap year, she'll be heading to Cambridge to read English - so it's all the more impressive that she brings flaky Cassie to life so vividly. What is it like playing her? "She's a bit crazy," says Murray. "In real life, I don't have an eating disorder and my parents don't lounge around the house naked painting pictures of each other, but I think she's quite an easy character for a lot of teenagers to identify with, because she feels lonely and insecure - things that a lot of people have felt when they're teenagers."

In series two, Murray promises that Cassie will become "quite a lot darker and harder. She's still got a lot of problems, but she's less like a little girl that everything happens to."

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Taking a well-earned break after the Skins shoot, Murray is currently in talks about other gap-year projects - of the dramatic, not travelling sort. "I'm just going to see how things go. If I don't get anything, then it'll be nice just to be lazy for the rest of the year!" Beyond that, she is dead-set on juggling academia with acting. "As a long term thing, I feel like acting is what I want to do with my life. I feel pretty sure about that." She pauses, before adding: "At least, at the moment."

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