Her lusty scenes with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in The Tudors led to rumours of romance. Now back co-starring with the Corkman, Wicklow actress Katie Mcgrath talks body image and boyfriends to Patricia Danaher
You learn to make your home where you are at the time,’ she says, more than a little wistfully. ‘I go home to London quite a bit from Budapest and I go home to Ireland whenever I can. All my family are in Ashford. They’re the most perfect family. I wish I could live there. I wish I could work there.’
In between shooting Merlin, Katie also got a part in Madonna’s film W.E. and in the process became friends with the singer. Shortly after Merlin wrapped, the call came through that she’d landed her part in Dracula and it’s been a rollercoaster ever since. ‘Bram Stoker was a typical Irishman — he loved language and he had a great way with words. He didn’t think he was writing War And Peace. I think he just wanted to tell a bloody good story,’ she says. ‘The cast has really bonded and it’s great to have so many Irish here. I love being back working with Johnny again. We’re like family on the set. There aren’t many jobs where you’re excited about going to work every day, but I genuinely am. There’s a richness about costume drama that everybody loves.’ She and fellow Irish actress Victoria Smurfit have also become very close on the Budapest set.
Although Katie is in good shape, she is not what you’d call Hollywood thin. She struggled with her weight as a student and, despite the hearty appetite with which she approaches tonight’s dinner, she tells me there’s no secret to how she stays in shape. ‘You just have to be sensible and go to the gym. I’m not stick thin, but you do have to work on it. It’s part of the job. Inside, I see myself as this overweight tomboy. I was really big until I left college and I started to lose all the weight. I don’t know how big I was exactly. Let’s just say when I stopped fitting in to a size 14, I stopped counting.’
She dodges the question of whether she has a boyfriend, saying she’ll tell me next time, but she does admit she’s still not confident with dating. ‘I’m really terrible when it comes to guys. When I was in college and overweight, I always saw myself as “the friend” — rather than the one the guys wanted to talk to. I was very awkward and guys were always just my mates. Inwardly, I haven’t changed at all...’
Still, she admits, ‘One day I’d love a house in the country, with some chickens, dogs and kids. I’m approaching the age now when all my friends are getting married and I’m like “When did that happen?” And I am terribly, horrifically, horribly broody.’