Thursday 29 January 2015

Brenda Fricker: In her own words

The award-winning actress discusses retirement, loneliness, depression and friendship in her typically unflinching manner

Brenda Fricker with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Brenda Fricker
Brenda in the company of her beloved dogs.
Brenda with her co-stars in 'A Long Way From Home'.
Brenda in 'A Long Way From Home'.
Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker

There's very little I miss about acting since retiring. I'm just too old for the s*** that went on. When you make a film, it depends how long it takes to find a distributor. It can take five years and then you find yourself doing publicity for something you can't even remember the name of.

I shot my last film, 'A Long Way from Home' so long ago. I had to take out the script to remind myself of the story the other day. I could barely remember the name of it.

It's a love/hate film. A couple who have retired to the South of France find their marriage shaken when the husband [played by James Fox] falls in love with a younger woman.

It's a film that you get or you don't but I think Virginia Gilbert [writer and director] is an extraordinary talent who does extraordinary things with her writing.

She writes about the little things in life that pass you by, that turn out to be the big things.

And working on the film reminded me of one of the few things I do miss about acting: that tiny moment between "action" and "cut". I loved that because there's the only place you're free as an actor.

Everything else around work deteriorated so much in the last eight or nine years, and I'm too old and too tired to put up with it, if I'm honest with you.

People asked me have I lost my identity since retiring, and I can honestly say I never in my life felt like I had lost my identity and I hope I never will. Jesus, I may as well be dead if I felt that.

It's only a job yet there's all this nonsense with it. It's a f****** hard job – you're up at five in the morning, getting to bed at 10. Learning your lines for the next day, six days a week. You do it for 40 years and you're very tired after that. But it wasn't my identity; it was a job.

I had a rich life outside of it. I was very balanced and was lucky to have good people around me who kept me balanced, if I needed it.

I'm fine, my identity is quite safe.

Another part of retirement is dealing with the loss in income. Now that's unavoidable, but it's causing very little concern for me.

It's certainly a reduction and I've had to save up to go on holiday this year, whereas before I could just write a cheque and go off. But it's much nicer and almost better in a way to do that. I was quite rich at one point, when I was 'hot' and earning big, big cheques and everything else.

But I've never been materialistic. I always had a little car, little house, little dog ... That was it. I bought an obligatory mansion in the country back in the day and got so embarrassed I sold it very quickly.

I hadn't a penny at the time – I was absolutely broke, which I was, more or less. It didn't matter a s*** to me.

But I obviously said it in the wrong way or picked the wrong words to use or whatever. That's not the way I meant it at all. I wasn't destitute.

As of now, I'm not broke. I've a lot more money than a lot of people in Ireland. But yes I am lonely. I meant every word of that. It happens when you reach my age. It really began when my husband died [director Barry Davies in 1991], then my father passed away. And soon afterwards, my best friend died. Then another good friend of mine in England passed away.

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