THE GREENE GREENE CLASS OF HOME
If variety is the spice of life, it’s been a Chicken Chilli Masala year for SARAH GREENE whose three very different film roles, and a box-office busting West End run, have confirmed the Leesider as one of our finest acting talents.
Irish star Sarah Greene discusses her brilliant run of screen performances and box office-busting West End stint.
“HAVE I BEEN TO the cinema to see a film other than one I’m in? God, I can’t remember. This year has been an insanely busy blur. Not that I’m complaining. When you’ve spent as much time ‘resting between jobs’ as much as I have you welcome the craziness!”
Sarah Greene is reflecting on what by any standards has been a highly productive 2018, with starring turns in three much heralded films, a triumphant return to London theatreland and, to cap it off, a meaty TV role that currently finds the Cork actor in Newcastle, County Down. “I’ve literally today finished a new series for the BBC called The Dublin Murders, which is based on the psychological crime novels by Tana French,” Sarah reveals. “Sara Phelps, whose mind is dark and wonderful and weird, is the writer and the cast includes Tom Vaughan-Lawlor who’s such a powerful actor. Eight onehour episodes, which as far as I know will be going out here and in the UK next autumn.”
Our first cinematic sighting of Sarah this year was in Dublin Oldschool, the rave era yarn co-authored by her pal Emmet Kirwan who admitted to Hot Press that he strong-armed her into coming home to play Lisa in it.
“He didn’t have to do any strong-arming,” she laughs. “I saw the original play and adored Emmet and Ian Lloyd Anderson in it. It was a new approach to theatre and struck a chord with me. We were both in London; I was rehearsing Woyzeck in the Old Vic and Emmet was doing some writing in The National Theatre. I was signed up to do an American show, Ransom, but the dates kept being pushed back, so I just said to my agents, ‘I’m doing Emmet’s film.’ It was brilliant being back in Dublin shooting it. It’s a great piece of filmmaking.”
Underlining the manic nature of her schedule, Sarah finished Woyzeck one day and flew to Dublin to film Dublin Oldschool the next. After a week of shooting here, she spent a day in London doing prep on a play (more of which anon) and then flew to Budapest for an eightweek shoot.
“I told you I’ve been busy!” she grins.
Asked whether she was a glow stick and baggy trouser merchant herself, Sarah sighs and says, “No, Sir Henry’s in Cork closed the year I started going clubbing, so I missed out on this legendary scene. I was at Burning Man a few years ago, which is the most special weekend I’ve ever had. It’s like being in a 360-degree painting. You’re surrounded by all these mountains, and the colours in the sky go from bright pink to orange.”
A very different sort of Irish story was spectacularly told this year by Black ‘47, the
famine revenge drama, which required Sarah to drop a couple of dress sizes.
“I can see why they’ve never made it before because it’s the biggest call for nationalism,” she reflects. “Being set during The Famine, I had to a lose a good stone and a half – over Christmas, I might add! – before we did three months of shooting in Canada. It was great doing scenes with Barry Keoghan who’s just incredible. Actually, a film I do remember watching was one of his previous ones, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. I’m obsessed with the director, Yorgos Lanthimos. It’s a dream of mine to work with him."
Over to you, Yorgos. “We did some pick-ups for Black ’47 in Connemara,” Sarah resumes, “which required me to walk in bare feet through the bog. The glamour of the job! When I told my dad I was in the film, he was delighted and said, ‘Your grandparents would be very proud.’ It’s an extremely powerful piece of cinema.”
Cementing Sarah’s Irish Actress of the Year status last month was her remarkable turn in Rosie, Roddy Doyle’s exploration of Ireland’s homelessness crisis, which should be mandatory viewing for Leo and his cronies.
“I finished up in Budapest, and started straight away on Rosie,
which is why I look so convincingly wrecked in it,” she says. “An actor was telling me that his neighbour went to see it and had to leave halfway through because he felt so angry and ashamed that this is happening in our country. It does light a fire in your belly that we’re letting this becom the norm for thousands of people. I was on the way to get my hair and makeup done for Dublin Oldschool
when I first read the script, and was like, ‘Oh my God, Roddy
Doyle has nailed it!’ I had tears streaming down my face the entire time – unlike Rosie who as a matter of pride and defiance won’t let people see her cry. She’s much stronger than you or I are. There are so many great lines, but the one that really gets me is: ‘We’re not homeless, we’re just lost.’ The uncertainty of every day not knowing whether you’ll have a roof over your head that night is heartbreaking. Just constant anxiety, and nothing is changing. I was looking the other day at rents and it’s just greed and greed and greed. Homelessness is an obscenity that we all need to be fucking
“HOMELESSNESS IS AN OBSCENITY THAT WE ALL NEED TO BE FUCKING ANGRY ABOUT.”
As if all that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, Sarah spent the first five months of the year starring in Ferryman, the Jez Butterworth play about a young widow caught up in the Northern Irish Troubles, which enjoyed an extended London West End run. “I took-over the part of Caitlin Carney from another friend of mine, Laura Donnelly, who left me a care package – hand cream because they get wrecked from peeling all the spuds, Manuka honey for the shouting and Berocca to keep up my energy levels because it’s such a physically demanding play.”
Sarah – who joked earlier in the year about “taking a break from theatre to make money” – had previously starred alongside Daniel Radcliffe, Pádraic Delaney and Gary Lilburn in the 2013 West End revival of The Cripple Of Inishmaan, which transferred to Broadway. “Normally when a play crosses the Atlantic, they re-cast with Americans but luckily they stuck with us and it was a bit magical,” she enthuses. “Daniel was lovely and such a hard worker. There’s no ego. Pat Shortt’s too modest to say this, but Daniel was star struck meeting him because he’s watched all his stuff – Killinascully, Garage, Father Ted, the lot. Theatre is my first love – I grew up on stage – so playing a part like Helen on Broadway was ‘pinch me, am I dreaming?’ stuff. It absolutely lived up to expectations.” Twenty-four hours after the curtain came down on The Cripple Of Inishmaan in New York, Sarah, who was Tony nominated for her role, was back in London shooting Burnt with Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson and Uma Thurman. Asked whether she found being in such A-List company intimidating, she shakes her head and says, “No, I was on such a roll coming of that Broadway run. Most of my scenes were with Daniel Brood who’s just the sweetest man. I suppose I was a bit intimidated being on camera with Uma Thurman because she’s so tall!”
As the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, how will Sarah, cheeky glass of Bolly in hand, reflect on 2018?
“I’ll think, ‘How lucky am I to have been part of all these amazing projects, working with great friends and great stories, bringing them to life?’”
We’ll drink to that too!
(clockwise from left) Sarah raving in Dublin Oldschool, Black '47 and on the streets in Rosie