Keeley Hawes read Kate McCann book to prepare for The Missing role
Keeley Hawes has said filming The Missing would be "torturous" were it not for her three children.
The 40-year-old actress is starring in the forthcoming second series of BBC One's acclaimed drama alongside The Walking Dead's David Morrissey.
The new case follows Sam (played by Morrissey) and Gemma (Line Of Duty's Hawes), whose daughter Alice went missing in 2003.
Eleven years later, Alice (newcomer Abigail Hardingham) collapses after being found stumbling through the streets in Germany.
Her return sends shockwaves through a small community.
During an interview with the Radio Times, Hawes revealed part of her preparation for the role involved reading the autobiography of Kate McCann, mother of Madeleine who has been missing since 2007.
When asked if she is able to leave a perturbing subject matter behind after the cameras stop rolling, the actress pointed to her role as a mother.
"I think it's much easier when you have three children," she said. "You go home and ... it's inevitable that you have to be there for them, in a totally different world.
"When you're doing something like The Missing, it's important to keep things light off set, because otherwise it would be torturous."
Told in dual timelines between 2014 and the present day, The Missing follows Alice's family as they are thrown back into a turmoil that threatens to tear them apart.
The debut run in 2014 featured Cold Feet's James Nesbitt.
Born in London, Hawes' television breakthrough came as Zoe Reynolds in the hit BBC spy drama Spooks.
She met her second husband Matthew Macfadyen, who played MI5 Intelligence Officer Tom Quinn, on the set.
The couple have a son and a daughter together. Hawes also has a 15-year-old son from her first marriage to cartoonist Spencer McCallum.
The Upstairs Downstairs star took the opportunity to talk about more challenging parts for women beyond the usual archetypes of "wife', "mother" or "girlfriend".
"It's not going to happen overnight," she told the magazine.
"But the more we give people the chance to know that there are those opportunities, the more women will stand up and take them up."
After Spooks, Hawes went on to capture the imagination of the viewing public as Detective Inspector Alex Drake in time-travel series Ashes To Ashes, opposite Philip Glenister as the combative Gene Hunt.
She starred in the 2010 BBC One revival of Upstairs Downstairs, but made a bigger impression on BBC Two four years later as corrupt policewoman Lindsay Denton in Line Of Duty.
A revelation in the role of the amoral policewoman, Hawes was lauded for her performance and received a Bafta nomination for leading actress.
She will next be seen in new ITV drama The Durrells, which also features Hollywood film star Leslie Caron, best known for musicals An American In Paris and Gigi.
The Durrells is based on Gerald Durrell's trilogy of memoirs and is set in 1935.
The story focuses on Louisa, played by Hawes, whose life is in turmoil in the UK.
Louisa's husband died years ago, she is running out of money and her four unruly children are going off the rails.
Over six episodes, the Durrell family's fortunes will be followed as Louisa decides to uproot her clan for a new life in Corfu.
"It's an enormous undertaking," Hawes says of her character. "She's really, really brave."
:: The Durrells is broadcast on ITV at 8pm on April 3.