ANNA Chancellor is fresh from the hairdressers, gently patting her newly cut and blow-dried locks. "I had to say: 'If you wash my hair and blood pours down the drain, don't worry, it's not real,'" she says, her blue eyes twinkling with merriment.

When we meet in Glasgow, the actor – who shot to fame as jilted "Duckface" in the 1994 romcom Four Weddings and a Funeral – is in the midst of filming the BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie's Ordeal by Innocence.

The ensemble cast for the big-budget drama, which began last night, includes Bill Nighy, Morven Christie, Eleanor Tomlinson, Matthew Goode and Alice Eve.

Chancellor, 52, plays Rachel Argyll, a wealthy philanthropist and mother to five adopted children. Set in the 1950s, the action unfolds at the family estate Sunny Point – shot at Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip – and, in true Christie style, murder is on the cards.

READ MORE: Bill Nighy on Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal By Innocence

Barely have the opening credits finished rolling than the first victim is claimed: Rachel bludgeoned to death with a whisky decanter in her study.

Chancellor has spent the morning playing dead, lying on a stretcher with a sheet covering her face. Nighy – her onscreen husband Leo – was also in the scene.

"He had to kiss my corpse which really made me laugh," she says. "I was being carried downstairs on a stretcher. I was hanging on to the stretcher as these poor, ex-policemen were carrying me, and I was a little bit heavy for them.

"I was shooting off it and hanging on like this" – she mimics gripping the sides with white knuckles – "then at the bottom, I had to take an in-breath of air as Bill takes off my shroud and kisses me. By that time, I felt totally hysterical."

So, she was in danger of corpsing – to use the acting parlance – while being a corpse? "Exactly! I thought: 'If I start laughing now while Bill is kissing me, I'm never going to stop laughing.'"

READ MORE: Bill Nighy on Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal By Innocence

Cleaning herself up afterwards proved equally amusing. "It was quite funny having a shower," she says. "I was washing all the blood out my hair and it was just pouring down. It was like Psycho."

Was the stark warning to her hair stylist appreciated? "She did say: 'Oh my God, there is blood caked behind your ear …'" Chancellor hoots with laughter.

Ordeal by Innocence was due to be shown in December last year, but was shelved after Ed Westwick, who played Mickey Argyll, faced allegations of rape and sexual assault in the US dating back several years, which the actor has strongly denied.

Christian Cooke replaced Westwick and large sections were reshot in January. None of that has yet unfolded when I meet Chancellor.

We mull over how life can come full circle. Her first acting job was in another Agatha Christie murder mystery, Witness for the Prosecution, at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Then in her mid-twenties, Chancellor played a court stenographer for six months – a role without a single line.

"I used to write continuous thought; my stream of consciousness," she recalls. "It was absolutely filthy. Really dirty. I realised that I was a filthy-minded person.

"I was getting my equity card," she adds. "We lived in the Highlands. That was with my daughter's father who has sadly died now – Jock [Scot], who was a poet."

READ MORE: Bill Nighy on Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal By Innocence

Christie has been a recurring theme throughout Chancellor's career. She did an episode of Agatha Christie's Marple in 2008 and appeared in a 1993 instalment of Poirot, playing the detective's great unrequited love Virginie Mesnard.

"Oh, you know much more than me," she laughs. "I forgot I was the love of Poirot's life. You know how Poirot wears violets in a brooch? I gave him those. I was a flashback as Virginie."

Her earliest memories of Christie were while attending St Mary's convent boarding school in Dorset. "We weren't allowed TV – only to watch Top of the Pops – but on a Feast Day they would screen an Agatha Christie film, the old fashioned black and white ones.

"I remember we saw Murder Most Foul with Margaret Rutherford. There were a few others, all with her, and I loved those."

Fast forward a few decades and it is Chancellor gracing our screens in a suspense-fuelled Christie whodunnit. Would her younger self have believed that? "Never," she says. "So much of being an actress you could never have imagined."

Her first big TV role was in Sky sci-fi soap opera Jupiter Moon in 1990. This led to the famed "By 'eck, it's gorgeous" gondola advert for Boddingtons and then Four Weddings and a Funeral. Other career highlights include Pride and Prejudice, Kavanagh QC, Tipping the Velvet and Spooks.

More recently Chancellor has been shooting the Danny Boyle series, Trust, alongside Donald Sutherland. There's a Christie connection there too, I tell her. Sutherland starred in the 1984 film adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence with Faye Dunaway and Christopher Plummer.

"Did he?" she says agog. I get out my mobile phone and we look up IMDB to confirm it. Trust, which is due to air on Sky Atlantic later this year, centres on the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973. Sutherland plays oil tycoon John Paul Getty senior, with Chancellor as his mistress.

"Playing Donald Sutherland's mistress is something I could not have imagined," she says. "Do you remember Don't Look Now which was terrifying, but also had that incredibly passionate scene? I'm probably a bit crushy.

"He was in all those 1970s films with Jane Fonda like Klute and Steelyard Blues. They are quite sexual, and he was very wild. It seemed a million miles from small-town Devon where I was brought up."

Chancellor is a joy to interview. She speaks her mind and doesn't feel the need to talk in trite soundbites. I admire the bright red raincoat hanging over the back of her chair. "A bargain: £50 from a charity shop in Hyndland," she enthuses. "It's Burberry. That would cost £600 brand new."

READ MORE: Bill Nighy on Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal By Innocence

The London-born actor has enjoyed being based in Glasgow while filming Ordeal by Innocence. She has worked on a few bits and pieces in Scotland over the years, including Radio 4 plays, BBC drama Shetland and BBC Three comedy-drama Pramface, which was shot in Edinburgh.

"I just love Scotland. It is very different to England. The whole thing is different. The people are so different. I had kind of forgotten that the people are so different. This time it has really impacted me."

How so? "There doesn't seem to be such an obsession with hierarchy," she says. "I think people are maybe more relaxed. God knows why with this constant change of weather.

"I began to understand why Scotland wanted its independence so much. This time I have been aware of it being so different, foreign almost."

I'm curious what has changed from previous visits? "Things are always a little bit different, aren't they? You grow older and you never experience the same thing twice. That is just my experience of it this time.

"I stayed in the west end of Glasgow. I have walked and walked through the back streets, Kelvingrove and into all the museums. I went to the World Pipe Band Championships and spent a lot of time wandering around, talking to people."

Chancellor had a five-year relationship with the late Leith-born punk performance poet Jock Scot, who died from cancer in 2016. She credits him with passing on the artistic gene to their daughter Poppy, 30, an illustrator and paper-cut artist.

"Jock did A-level art which is unusual for Musselburgh," says Chancellor, referring to his upbringing on a tough council estate. "She looks to me very Scottish, does Poppy. She has got the white skin and blue eyes. She is very neat and immaculately turned out. I think that is quite Scottish.

"Jock's mother had seven children, but there she would be at the bus stop with the perfect hair, shoes and gloves to go dancing. Always smart and immaculate. Poppy is like that – and I'm more a mess and scruffy.

"She will say: 'Mum, put some clothes on. Everyone can see you.'" Err, in what scenario? "If I am walking around the house. She thinks everyone is looking in. We are different like that."

These days Chancellor lives in Brighton with her husband Redha Debbah. The couple, who married in 2010, met and fell in love when Debbah, 45, was her driver during a run of The Real Inspector Hound on London's West End.

"We courted for about a year," she says. "I was crazy about him – and he was always trying to avoid me. I thought it was a joke to begin with: who ever gets together with their cab driver? So, I would laugh about it in a semi-serious/semi-desperate way."

They have been together for 20 years now and Algerian-born Debbah has since swapped driving for an IT job. "But he is a yoga fanatic," interjects Chancellor. "He is training to be a yoga teacher. He is a complete natural – I'm always at the back of the class moaning."

A recent study reported that the amount of dialogue women get in Hollywood films decreases after the age of 40. That doesn't seem to be the case for Chancellor, however. "I'm quite lucky on that front, aren't I?" she muses.

Why does she reckon that is? "Because I'm a bitch," she says. "And they always want a bitch."

READ MORE: Bill Nighy on Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal By Innocence

Chancellor smiles across the table. "I think why I'm lucky is because I can play authoritative. That is traditionally a man's thing, so they can slip in a woman because they know they are meant to have more women.

"Sometimes you play parts that are still written as a man. You will be the chief of police and have a wife because they have forgotten to edit it. I swear, that has happened twice."

For Millennials, the term "duckface" means pouting for a mobile phone selfie, but for Generation X, Duckface will always be Chancellor. "Is that me over? That is so sad," she jokes.

Did she have any input to the famous nickname in Four Weddings and a Funeral? "No. I think it was meant to be F***face. I said that on TV once while being interviewed by Richard and Judy. They went mad and had to close me down.

"There is only a certain amount of times you can say f*** to pass the censors, so I think F***face was changed to Duckface, but I would need to ask Richard [Curtis]. People have told me what it is in other languages. For example, in Hungarian it is 'horse cheek' and in Italian it is 'a***face.'"

Talk about lost in translation. But Chancellor professes to love ducks. "I do. And I don't mind Duckface. It put me on the map."

Ordeal by Innocence continues on BBC One, Sunday, 9pm. Watch episode one on BBC iPlayer now