Keeley Hawes says she has previously stayed away from acting in dramas about missing children as they “felt too close to home”.
Hawes appears in the second series of BBC drama The Missing, which focuses on children who have disappeared.
She said: “Having three children myself, I have tended to stay away from these sorts of dramas in the past.
“It all felt too close to home, it’s one of those stories you see on the news.”
Hawes, the star of Line of Duty and Ashes to Ashes, added: “You don’t want to look at it, but in the end you can’t help it because it’s riveting.”
The second series of The Missing – written by brothers Harry and Jack Williams – begins with a young British woman being found collapsed in a German town square.
It later transpires the woman – Alice Webster, played by Abigail Hardingham – has been missing for 11 years.
The series explores how her family and the local community cope with her return.
Hawes and The Walking Dead actor David Morrissey play the young girl’s parents, Staff Sergeant Sam Webster and his wife Gemma.
Speaking about her decision to sign up to the show, Hawes said: “I was sent the first six scripts and I sat down one evening and thought, ‘Oh I’ll take a look at the first one.’
“By the end of the evening I had read them all, like I was making my way through a box set. I just couldn’t stop. So I was very excited.”
The first series of the BBC One drama, which starred James Nesbitt, aired in 2014.
The forthcoming series stars an almost entirely different cast – detective Julien Baptiste, played by Tchéky Karyo, is the only character to return.
It will again tell the story over two timelines, starting in 2014 when Alice returned and then moving to the present day. The programme will also examine Alice’s possible connection to another missing girl whose case Baptiste has examined.
Harry Williams said: “We didn’t want to recreate the same story, we wanted to do something different.
“Rather than losing someone, it’s about finding someone, and whether that is the happy ending that everyone thinks it is.”
The Missing will return on 12 October.