The Irish Mail on Sunday
A voice for women unable to talk about smear test scandal
Love/Hate actress Mary Murray shed real tears in her role as a woman seeking CervicalCheck justice
FORMER Love/Hate star Mary Murray shed real tears after she become emotional while watching a movie about the CervicalCheck cancer scandal.
The Dublin actress plays one of three women facing an early death after being given incorrect smear test results.
Although the characters are fictional, The Letters, which had its premiere this week and is released on Friday, is based on real events.
Murray plays Sam, a struggling single mother of four desperately trying to make ends meet while slowly getting sicker from the cancer ravaging her body.
The star, who played big-hearted brothel boss Janet in Love/Hate, said filming The Letters was an extremely emotional experience.
‘Once you embody that character those tears are real, everything is real, it takes over you,’ she says.
‘Real tears don’t just come nicely off the eyeballs in perfect order. Sometimes you see on soaps tears like that because they have to retake the scene again and again and they still have to look good.
‘They are incredible women to speak out’
‘But real tears come with snot and red patches on your face, all these things, so yes, they’re real tears.’
Murray said the film tried to show what it was like for some of the 220 women who were given the all-clear for cancer when in fact their tests had proved positive, but they were not told until years later.
She said: ‘I thought it was important for people to be aware of the personal stories involved in the scandal.
‘We were aware of Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathuna and their stories.
‘They are incredible women to speak up, not just on behalf of themselves, but of all the women in Ireland who have been through this.
‘We didn’t get to hear the stories of the other women who didn’t have that energy or time to speak up for themselves and it was nice to get to portray one of the many women out there.
‘It’s always nice as an actor to feel like you are representing a real person.
‘It was just a very difficult situation for a woman like Sam to be in. She has one brother but has no parents around to look after her.
‘She is in major debt and her husband is gone and she just doesn’t know what to do while dealing with her own health issues.
‘She is worried about what kind of legacy is she going to leave for her children. ‘She’s looking online about children in care and wondering if her children are going to end up there and what will become of them.
‘That adds to the impact. We already know these women are dealing with health issues but what comes after when she leaves these four kids behind and there’s nothing left for them? She is totally powerless. There’s no hope.’
The other women in the Robbie Walsh-directed film are played by Sarah Carroll, who portrays a single career woman with no support and Kathleen Warner Yeates as an older woman looking after an elderly mother with Alzheimer’s.