10 Questions for Catherine Walker
Actress Catherine moved from Ireland to London aged 21, eventually joining the Royal Shakespeare Company. At home in Dublin Catherine is best known for her theatre work, but she is known here for her TV roles in Holby City and Critical, as well as for playing Madame de Maintenon in the epic BBC series Versailles, which is released on DVD this week.
IS IT STRANGE PLAYING A REAL, HISTORICAL PERSON?
In Versailles it’s fascinating. I got to talk to historians, building up a picture of Louis Xivth’s wife and then finding the character to play her. The costumes make it very real, too.
DO YOU GET FED UP WITH COSTUME FITTINGS?
No. I arrive in the morning wondering how I’m going to get in to character, then gradually as the make-up and costumes go on I start to feel the part. The camera may not be focused on my shoes, but I know I’m wearing them.
HOW DO YOU KEEP INTERESTED DURING BREAKS?
I’m all for preserving energy on set so I usually take a nap at lunchtime. I might meditate between takes, and I’m studying psychology so l read text books.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MAKING AN EPIC TV SERIES?
Fun. With acting, we’ve all run away to join the circus, haven’t we? It’s a great job, surrounded by great craftsmen.
DO YOU WATCH YOURSELF ON TV?
I’m getting better at that. Now I watch the whole thing as a piece of entertainment rather than just analysing my performance. But I still wait a bit of time before I do.
ARE YOU THICK SKINNED?
No, Knock-backs are hard. I felt that especially at the beginning of my career. I wondered whether I’d have the personality to keep going. This business has broken my heart in the past.
I just trust that work will come in. I’m much more relaxed about it. I’m lucky I’ve never been pigeonholed.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEXT?
I’ve just started costume fittings in Glasgow for a new series of Shetland. I’m going to play a really strong character, someone whose type of relationship with Inspector Perez he hasn’t experienced before. I’m really excited.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE ROLES?
I feel anonymous, and I have no awareness of trying to appeal to people in the roles I play. I’ve played characters who I know a percentage of the audience won’t go along with. I guess I never think ahead to how things will land with people.
YOU HAVE 24 HOURS LEFT TO LIVE. HOW DO YOU SPEND IT?
Dancing barefoot on a beach in Dublin, enjoying the rain and the wildness. We’re on a journey of learning, and the soul goes on, so there’s a fantastic, exciting journey to come afterwards.