For a scene in the television adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles (A&E, Sept. 13 and 14 at 9 p.m. ET), Justine Waddell had to milk a bovine costar on an English farm. "I kept thinking, 'Wait, have I forgotten how?' I'm the worst milker," recalls Waddell, 22, who took milking lessons for the film about a 19th-century dairymaid. With the help of a willing cow, the milk flowed. But scenes with chickens were more challenging. "I was carrying them the wrong way," she says. "They kept squawking over people's lines."
WaddelI's gumption has paid off before. Born in South Africa, she had tapes of BBC dramas shipped to her by relatives in Scotland before moving there in 1986. Later, at Cambridge University, she battled stage fright in student productions. "Not butterflies," the unattached Londoner recalls of her feelings on one opening night. "It was more like icy blood." Though she remains devoted to the classics (her next role is in a BBC version of Great Expectations), Waddell says she'd like to play a character that doesn't wear a corset. "I'd love something," she says, "where I could swear and jump on someone's back!"