Huberman close up
‘You don’t want to be seen as a fluffy Wag’ – the southsider talks northside with Tara Brady
REFORMED addict Karen is a happy housefrau with a pictureperfect husband, an adorable tot and a suburban address when, without warning, her ex, Karl, shows up. A bona fide scumbag from Karen’s colourful past, he’s not leaving without her. Trouble ensues.
As Rewind, a taut, effective thriller from director PJ Dillon heats up, everyone on screen is required to get in touch with his or her inner bunny-boiler.
But wait. Isn’t that Allen Leech, the loveable cheeky chap from Cowboys and Angels, essaying the menacing Karl? It gets weirder. Amy Huberman – yes that Amy Huberman – plays the deceptively passive heroine, a character defined by desperation and traces of a low-born accent.
Huh? Isn’t she supposed to be a nice, middle-class girl? Isn’t she supposed to be the Nation’s Sweetheart? “It would have been easier and less daunting to play an American or Australian,” laughs the actor. “But when you’re doing the accent from down the road it’s terrifying. Especially when the film is for an Irish market. And especially when everybody knows you as a little southside girl. Talk about setting yourself up. The first day on set I felt like bricks were coming out of my mouth.”
She got better. Indeed, much of Rewind’s impact is derived from Huberman’s inverted Eliza Doolittle, a role she regards as the most significant in her career thus far.
“It was such a departure for me from anything I’ve done. I was so excited about going in to it. People keep asking me if I was out of my comfort zone, but I was more in my comfort zone than ever. I wanted the challenge. I wanted to test myself. This is what I’m supposed to be doing . . . Hang on.” She daintily leaps to her feet and runs to assist a waiter juggling a tray at the door.
They don’t call her Little Miss Sunshine for nothing. Polite, impeccably presented and so very petite – can I take her home to my doll’s house, please? – Amy Huberman can likely be found in the phonebook under Well Brought Up. She rattles out words in her little songbird voice at a spectacular rate, yet fails to say anything remotely improper. She’s friendly and says “aw” a lot while maintaining a decorum that would put Audrey Hepburn to shame. She is, to ply an archaic notion, ladylike. That figures. She is the only daughter and middle child of Harold (who was born into London’s Polish Jewish community) and Sandra (from Wexford), and was raised in Cabinteely, surrounded by such genteel pursuits as pony riding and ballet.
“I only did ballet at school – reluctantly – because everybody else was doing it,” she says. “I am quite a girlie girl. But at the same time Brian often says it would take an awful lot to shock me. I can hold my own in a room of men. I don’t think anybody ever thinks ‘Oh, we can’t talk about that because Amy’s here’. So there must be a streak of tomboyishness in there.” Brian, for anyone who has recently returned from a