Meet the Foxy Lady of An­dré 3000’s new Jimi Hen­drix biopic

Ten years ago she was a house­hold name play­ing Fair City’s Jas­mine, then Jade Yourell fol­lowed her heart to Lon­don... and her ca­reer hit the dol­drums. Now the Gal­way girl is back – with some sul­try new movie roles, she tells Ja­son O’Toole

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENT -


I like do­ing love scenes …as long as

the guy is cute

We’ll cer­tainly be see­ing a lot more of ac­tress Jade Yourell on our cinema screens in the com­ing months — and I mean that quite lit­er­ally. Not only will she ap­pear as a foxy lady along­side Outkast su­per­star rap­per An­dré 3000 in the Jimi Hen­drix movie All Is By My Side, but the Gal­we­gian ac­tress has even stripped off for an up­com­ing com­edy — in a scene dur­ing which she wears only melted choco­late.

Up till now, this head-turn­ing beauty — whose un­usual sur­name is de­rived from Nor­man an­ces­tors who ‘ar­rived here with Strong­bow’ — has been best known for her roles in the likes of Fair City and a hand­ful of quirky Ir­ish movies. She also at­tracted at­ten­tion in the last decade for well-re­ceived per­for­mances in the Gate The­atre’s crit­i­cally ac­claimed pro­duc­tions of Harold Pin­ter, Tom Stop­pard and Os­car Wilde clas­sics.

All those years of graft­ing now cer­tainly look set to pay off for the ac­tress, who has piqued the in­ter­est of Hol­ly­wood moguls with her turn in the Jimi Hen­drix biopic. But it’s more likely that the next talk­ing point for cinema au­di­ences will be the 34-year-old — who jokes she’s in the ‘dirty 30s’ phase of her life — strip­ping com­pletely naked in her next fea­ture film, The Food Guide To Love.

A slightly red-faced Jade — who is about to jet off to LA to meet pro­duc­ers af­ter se­cur­ing her US work visa on the back of the Hen­drix movie — laughs ner­vously as she re­calls shoot­ing scene. In it, she opens the door to Richard Coyle, of Chan­nel 4’s Cou­pling, com­pletely naked — and cov­ered in choco­late. ‘My char­ac­ter’s a bit of a cougar,’ she says. ‘I in­vite him over to talk about some of his recipes, I an­swer the door — and he doesn’t ex­pect me to be cov­ered in choco­late spread. And I’m just like, “Eat me! I’m your choco­late bar!”’ She roars laugh­ing.

Jade ad­mits it was such an em­bar­rass­ing part to shoot that she had sec­ond thoughts about do­ing the nu­dity scene only min­utes be­fore film­ing it. ‘It was pretty chal­leng­ing be­cause it brings up all your in­se­cu­ri­ties as a woman in gen­eral. So, you’re kind of go­ing, “Oh...” It wasn’t just in front of one guy — it was in front of about 30 cast and crew. You just go, “I’m in the mo­ment and I’m do­ing it!” You do have a minute be­fore you go on and you’re think­ing, “Why did I take this role?” Peo­ple are dab­bing you with choco­late, you’re look­ing in the mir­ror and you have sec­ond thoughts. But it was worth it.’

How does she find do­ing love scenes in gen­eral? ‘If they’re good-look­ing, you don’t mind,’ she laughs sheep­ishly. ‘If they’re not, you go, “I’ll get into char­ac­ter.” As long as it looks real, you don’t re­ally care.’ Jade con­cedes she’s been hit on by some fa­mous ac­tors but re­fuses to divulge names. ‘Just in a very po­lite way, you go, “No, that’s not hap­pen­ing.” I’d think, “Who do you think you are?” Peo­ple are peo­ple — I don’t get starry-eyed, let’s put it that way. Some­times you just kind of go, “Ah, that’s gone to your head now!” Men will be men,’ she gig­gles.

Grow­ing up in Gal­way, Jade was four years old when she first de­clared to her par­ents that she wanted to be an ac­tress. And then, at age 13, she asked to see a psy­chol­o­gist be­cause she was be­ing bul­lied. ‘I was quite an in­tro­verted child,’ she says. ‘I needed to talk to some­body. I was bul­lied at school and I had quite a hard time.’ It’s ob­vi­ous there are lin­ger­ing emo­tional scars and that Jade still finds the ex­pe­ri­ence painful to talk about, all these years later. ‘It was pretty hor­ren­dous. It wasn’t so much phys­i­cal, but it was def­i­nitely emo­tional and men­tal... Yeah, it wasn’t good. We won’t con­cen­trate on that,’ she says, quickly mov­ing the con­ver­sa­tion on. Af­ter that she de­cided to go to board­ing school in Dublin, at the Loreto in Rath­farn­ham, be­cause part of the cur­ricu­lum in­cluded act­ing classes with the leg­endary child act­ing teacher Ann Ka­vanagh. While ini­tially lonely at her new school, Jade soon came out of her shell and thrived un­der the tute­lage of Ka­vanagh, who has dis­cov­ered many tal­ents in­clud­ing the Bolger sis­ters Sarah and Emma. (Coin­ci­den­tally, Jade’s younger brother, Camille, re­cently ‘fell into act­ing’ at the age of 30 af­ter a friend got him a role in the smash hit Jack Tay­lor.)

It was ac­tu­ally a meet­ing with Gabriel Byrne that spurred on Jade’s act­ing ca­reer. The ac­tor grew up with Jade’s mother, He­lena, and per­suaded his agent Teri Hay­den to take her on as a client. Jade re­calls, ‘Gabriel Byrne ba­si­cally said to me, “Lis­ten, re­act and don’t be dreamy about the busi­ness; it’s a hard life.”’ She has now spent prac­ti­cally half her life in

‘I an­swer the door, wear­ing noth­ing

but choco­late spread, and I say, “Eat me – I’m your

choco­late bar!”’

act­ing, af­ter first tread­ing the boards at the Gate aged 17 — she went to an au­di­tion for a mi­nor role in Tom Stop­pard’s Ar­ca­dia and some­how came away with the lead. She then starred in Fair City from 1999 to 2002. ‘I was warned by ev­ery­body not to do it. It’s a de­ci­sion I don’t re­gret, ac­tu­ally. I al­ways go by my in­stincts. Yvonne was my cousin in Fair City. Ciara O’Cal­laghan played her. We were the best of mates and, of course, our char­ac­ters hated each other in the show. We’d be walk­ing down the street and peo­ple would go, “Oh my God!” They’d ac­tu­ally be­lieve what was hap­pen­ing in the sto­ry­lines, which I find crazy. Peo­ple would look at you and go, “Are you friends?” How strange!’ she laughs.

For some­one who pro­fesses not to have any re­grets in life, it’s quite clear that Jade does rue her next move af­ter Fair City — em­i­grat­ing to Lon­don to be with her English ac­tor boyfriend. ‘ I was warned by Ann Ka­vanagh, “Never go out with a mu­si­cian or an ac­tor,”’ she re­calls, shak­ing her head.

For the next few years, Jade’s ca­reer hit a ma­jor low as she failed to break into the act­ing world in Lon­don. It was a case of re­jec­tion af­ter re­jec­tion. ‘A stupid mis­take,’ she sighs. ‘That was hard. I got a re­ally big agent and ev­ery­thing. I was do­ing so well here and I went to Lon­don — but of course no­body knows you over there; you have to start again.’

To make ends meet, Jade took a job as a wait­ress. ‘I got very down, very de­pressed. A few is­sues reared their lit­tle ugly head… Let’s just say, that helped me grow up big time. There was no mess­ing about there. We broke up be­cause there was no love there any more. I was re­ly­ing on him… he wasn’t a good boy,’ she ex­plains, con­ced­ing that the re­la­tion­ship ended be­cause he was un­faith­ful. She now tries to look at the pos­i­tive as­pects of her so­journ in Lon­don. ‘I ended up work­ing as a maître d’ for a Miche­lin-starred res­tau­rant. Even though I didn’t [act] that much over there — be­cause I had no pro­file, I had no rep­u­ta­tion, and I stayed for him — I learnt so much about my­self and I met so many dif­fer­ent types of peo­ple that I ac­tu­ally use now for char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. So, it wasn’t a dead end — it was ac­tu­ally a learn­ing curve.’

Lick­ing her wounds, Jade re­turned to Ire­land and was nom­i­nated for a Best Ac­tress IFTA for her role in Happy Ever Af­ters, in which she had to wear a wed­ding dress. It was a part, she con­fesses, that has turned her off mar­riage — for now, at least. ‘Mar­riage and me — I think that will be down the line,’ she laughs. She adds that her ‘very cyn­i­cal view of mar­riage’ stems from her par­ents’ break-up. ‘But they’re best friends now. It is tough, but I’ve been away from home since I was 17, so you roll with the punches…’ Still, deep down she re­mains a ro­man­tic. ‘I be­lieve in love. I just don’t think I’ve met the one.’

She’s ex­cited about par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Vin­tage Fash­ion & Dé­cor Fair tak­ing place at the Royal Marine Ho­tel in Dún Laoghaire to­day, from 11.30am to 6.30pm, with over 50 spe­cial­ist traders show­cas­ing a wide range of vin­tage fash­ion. ‘I said yes to it is be­cause I get to dress up. They’re putting me in all the orig­i­nal vin­tage stuff so I can’t wait!’

Af­ter this, Jade will jet over to Hol­ly­wood to dis­cuss movie roles on the back of All Is By My Side, which was di­rected by Three Kings writer John Ri­d­ley. Speak­ing about her part op­po­site An­dré 3000, she says, ‘I can’t talk too much about it be­cause of the con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment. But I play Roberta Gold­stein. It’s ba­si­cally about the time be­fore [Jimi] made it. He made it in Eng­land be­fore he made it in Amer­ica. My char­ac­ter is a Jewish heiress liv­ing in Lon­don. She’s a monied, New York gal — she was part of his clique.’

Jade’s clearly thrilled about fi­nally get­ting her shot at Hol­ly­wood star­dom. ‘It got etched into my mem­ory, the ex­pe­ri­ence of Lon­don: go­ing over too soon. This film is open­ing a few doors.’ And she’s ready to make her en­trance.

Left: Jimi Hen­drix, the sub­ject of Jade’s up­com­ing movie All Is By My Side, per­form­ing in the UK in 1969. Above: A young Jade as Jas­mine with her on­screen granny Han­nah (Pat Leevy) in Fair City

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