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


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

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