Tuesday 23 January 2018

Negga's long road to Hollywood stardom

Ruth Negga with Cillian Murphy in ‘Breakfast on Pluto’
Ruth Negga with Cillian Murphy in ‘Breakfast on Pluto’

Kirsty Blake Knox and David Raleigh

In Hollywood, you can go from being a nobody to a somebody (and vice versa) in a nanosecond.

From the outside, Ruth Negga's rise to Hollywood stardom in the last 12 months may seem stratospheric. On the contrary, her path to becoming a box office draw has been a long one.

Born in Addis Abba in 1982, Negga lived in Egypt until she was four years old.

She moved to her mother Nora's native hometown of Limerick and attended school at An Spioraid Naoimh in Roxborough, Ballysheedy.

Negga's father was set to follow his family to Limerick but was killed in a car accident when she was just seven. The actress said she found it difficult to even consider visiting Ethiopia following her father's death but returned when she was 18. "We went back eventually," she said. "I met my family [and] it was very moving.

"I think people in a strange way get embarrassed by death. It's something deeply personal and I think we all have different ways of dealing with it."

Ruth Negga pictured promoting a play in Limerick in 2002
Ruth Negga pictured promoting a play in Limerick in 2002

As a teenager, she spent time living in London and Dublin. She returned to Ireland to commence her BA in Acting Studies at Trinity College Dublin.

She graduated in 2002, and soon became a familiar name on Ireland's theatre scene.

One of her first performances was in a production of 'Lolita' at the Peacock Theatre.

A review at the time described her as "half Ethiopian, half Limerick and completely brilliant".

She also starred alongside Robert Sheehan in the 2011 production of Synge's 'The Playboy of the Western World', which toured in the UK.

In many ways, Negga's break-out role was in Pat McCabe's film 'Breakfast on Pluto', directed by Neil Jordan, who said he changed the script specifically to include Negga.

The film, which also starred Cillian Murphy, received four IFTAs and a Golden Globe nomination.

Negga received a nomination for her role in the movie but missed out to Fionnula Flanagan.

While filming 'Breakfast on Pluto' in 2006, Negga moved to London. The same year, she was named 'Shooting Star' at the Berlin Film Festival. She secured roles in TV shows, including Channel 4's 'Misfits', RTÉ's gangland drama 'Love/Hate', and restaurant drama 'Raw'.

She racked up further roles in ABC's 'Preacher and Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'. She was cast in Brad Pitt's 'World War Z' and '12 Years a Slave' but unfortunately all her scenes from the latter were cut.

Negga currently lives in London with her boyfriend and fellow actor Dominic Cooper.

Irish Independent

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