Track­suits and tears:

Ac­tress Celia Ire­land has been with Went­worth since it be­gan. She tells Sarah Nealon how her up­bring­ing in­flu­enced her act­ing and how she feels about the sac­ri­fices she has made for her ca­reer.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Went­worth star Celia

Ire­land talks act­ing and sac­ri­fices.

There are some tele­vi­sion shows par­ents don’t let their chil­dren watch – and for good rea­son.

Pris­oner was one of those shows. Set in an Aus­tralian women’s prison, it was a gritty drama with scary char­ac­ters who swore and did bad things to each an­other.

I wasn’t al­lowed to watch it af­ter school, but when Mum wasn’t in the room, I tuned in.

Celia Ire­land, who plays al­co­holic in­mate Liz Birdsworth in the Pris­oner re­make Went­worth, re­counts a sim­i­lar story from her own child­hood.

“We’d open up the crack of the slid­ing door in the lounge room,” she says.

“And the couch for some rea­son was in front of the door­way and the telly was be­yond. If Mum had turned around she would have seen three sets of eyes look­ing through the crack.

“The only thing I re­mem­ber was Bea Smith when she used to burn peo­ple’s body parts. We weren’t al­lowed to watch it but I re­mem­ber Mum watched it. It was very big at the time.”

Ire­land, 52, who has been with Went­worth since it be­gan, grew up in New­cas­tle, New South Wales with four sis­ters and two broth­ers and re­mem­bers be­ing ob­sessed with tele­vi­sion.

“I loved watch­ing all the BBC dra­mas like The Onedin Line and The Duchess Of Duke Street,” she says.

“We’d watch Dis­ney­land at six o’clock and then Mum would turn on some­thing like I, Claudius and I loved it.

“I had a rich fan­tasy life and I was a very good mimic. I’d do ac­cents and make peo­ple laugh.

“I was a bit of a class clown and I think per­for­mance was a great out­let and it felt easy to me. It felt like a lan­guage that I un­der­stood.”

In her teens, Ire­land did am­a­teur the­atre but de­spite her pas­sion for act­ing, she opted to train as a pri­mary school teacher.

Upon qual­i­fy­ing she only ever did re­lief teach­ing. This al­lowed her to ac­cept any the­atre work that came her way.

Even­tu­ally, act­ing took over from teach­ing and led to TV work on shows such as All Saints along­side 800 Words ac­tor Erik Thom­son.

But aside from a six-week course she did at age 30 in the United States, Ire­land hasn’t had any for­mal act­ing train­ing.

“I never in­tended to be a pro­fes­sional ac­tor,” she says. “It just sort of hap­pened.”

Be­fore scor­ing her Went­worth role, Ire­land was branch­ing out from act­ing and had just com­pleted a diploma with Re­la­tion­ships Aus­tralia, in­tend­ing to work in the realm of fam­ily ther­apy.

“I hadn’t done any ma­jor (act­ing) stuff for a while be­fore this came along so I was in­cred­i­bly grate­ful,” she says. Went­worth is now in its sixth sea­son and Ire­land, whose char­ac­ter was jailed for man­slaugh­ter and dan­ger­ous driv­ing, rel­ishes spend­ing her on-set days wear­ing a com­fort­able teal track­suit and not wor­ry­ing about make-up. “I don’t have any hair and make-up re­ally un­less I’ve got bruis­ing or puffi­ness from cry­ing or in the early se­ries – when she had been drink­ing – bro­ken cap­il­lar­ies,” Ire­land says. “I ba­si­cally pull my hair back in a pony­tail and I just use my own glam­orous, glo­ri­ous 52-year-old skin. It looks real and true and I love that about the show. “Some of the char­ac­ters have a bit of make-up on and stuff, but there are a few of us, like Ka­t­rina Milo­se­vic, who plays Boomer, and my­self who are ‘au na­turel’.” When she is not work­ing, Ire­land loves spend­ing time with her hus­band Tim and daugh­ters Maeve, 17, and Mag­gie, 13. “I’ve got a lovely fam­ily,” she says. “I feel re­ally grate­ful and blessed that I’ve got that as a ground­ing force. But it’s not easy. It’s been bloody hard. We live in Syd­ney and I’m film­ing in Mel­bourne. I fly home fort­nightly. The girls are used to it. “It takes its toll. It’s very tir­ing. “You go home for

“I never in­tended to be a pro­fes­sional ac­tor. It just sort of hap­pened.”

– Celia Ire­land

the week­end and un­der­stand­ably my hus­band wants to dump and run a lit­tle bit.”

But for Ire­land’s act­ing ca­reer, the per­sonal sac­ri­fices have been worth it.

“It’s a wild, fab­u­lous, try­ing, ex­cit­ing and very de­mand­ing jour­ney (on Went­worth) but it makes for riv­et­ing TV. We’ve got so many fans all over the world.”

Ire­land cites feed­back from an Amer­i­can woman with first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of life be­hind bars.

“The only crit­i­cism she had was she thought there needed to be more sto­ry­lines about how hard it is when you get out,” she says.

“She was say­ing to me what’s hard is you have to re­build your per­son­al­ity. She was in­side for about 10 years. She said you kind of have to re-in­vent your­self be­cause you

have be­come in­sti­tu­tion­alised and ev­ery­thing’s been done for you. She says it’s not just those per­func­tory things or the day-to-day tasks. Your per­son­al­ity has to be re­built. You’ve got to lose your para­noia, you’ve got to lose your hy­per-vig­i­lance.

“In prison you’re al­ways hy­per-aware of what ev­ery­one’s do­ing, where ev­ery­one is and look­ing af­ter your things, so that was a re­ally in­ter­est­ing in­sight

into re­build­ing your­self once you are out­side which I hadn’t thought about.

“I think what’s won­der­ful about shows like this is you don’t re­ally un­der­stand the im­pact it is hav­ing on peo­ple un­til you sit with them or read the fan let­ters or read their re­sponses on Face­book or In­sta­gram which I try to do be­cause I think it’s im­por­tant to have a bit of a so­cial con­science around be­ing an ac­tor.”

Con­tin­ued page 22

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.