The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE -

1 My hus­band, Jim Carter [Down­ton Abbey’s Mr Car­son], is a ma­gi­cian as well as an ac­tor, but I don’t be­lieve in magic. I’m a work­ing- class girl, very prac­ti­cal, and only be­lieve what I see! Jim doesn’t tell me how he works his magic: if he did he’d have to kill me. 2 When I was a girl, my act­ing hero­ine was Bette Davis. I thought, ‘Well, she isn’t par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful, and I’m not ei­ther. But, by God, she can act, and if she can make it as an ac­tress then I can too.’ 3 Emma Thomp­son and I live in each other’s pock­ets, and our houses are two doors apart in Lon­don. She’s a great friend and al­ways ready to give a mate a job. But the best fun I’ve had in a long time was when my char­ac­ter in the Harry Pot­ter films (Dolores Um­bridge) gave hers (Sy­bill Trelawney) the sack. 4 I owe my ca­reer to my elo­cu­tion and drama teacher, Miss Stoker. The nuns at school thought I spent too much time ‘play-act­ing’. But Miss Stoker in­sisted that I au­di­tion for drama school — and I got in. 5 Af­ter I won the Best Ac­tress Award for Vera Drake at the Venice Film Fes­ti­val in 2004, I went home, took off my make-up, and then put on a load of laun­dry. There was a life to be lived, af­ter all.

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