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'IRISH MOVIE STARS INSPIRED ME FOR MY ROLE AS A MAN'When it came to playing a woman disguised as a man in 19th-century Ireland, British actress Janet McTeer had two options: wing it, or turn to the greats of modern Irish cinema for a little inspiration. She went with the latter.

"I tried to imagine who this person would have copied in order to try and pass herself off as a fella," says Janet, who plays Hubert Page in Albert Nobbs.

"I imagined that what she would copy would be the men in her life, and the only equivalent I could think of, who I know, is my very good friends Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.

"I really wanted that wonderful, huge kind of Viking quality that a lot of those Irish guys have," she explains. "It's sort of big, in every way -- big and passionate and funny and large. So they were my two muses."

Of course, Hubert is but a supporting character; a woman whose secret she shares with the film's protagonist -- a kind yet mysterious hotel waiter named Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close, who also co-wrote the screenplay).

She, too, is posing as a man in Dublin, and her meeting with Hubert offers the deeply troubled Nobbs a new outlook on life.

Janet (50) has been a busy woman of late, starring alongside Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black, but it was her role in Albert Nobbs that turned heads.

Indeed, it came as something of a surprise when the low-budget film garnered three Academy Award nominations. "I swear to God," laughs Janet, "my entire wardrobe at the Oscars cost 50 times the amount I was paid to be in the movie."

An Oscar nod generally leads to an increase in film offers, but for Janet, it's about picking the right role.

"It's so funny, somebody said to me 'oh, are you going to go to Hollywood and do all that?' And I laughed and I went 'Jesus Christ, I'm 50. I've been doing this for 25 years. I've already had an Oscar nomination when I was at the age when I was going to be offered more stuff -- what makes you think I'm going to do it now?' I mean, if somebody offered me a huge amount of money to do a big movie, and I could pay off all my family's mortgages and put everyone through college, would I do it? You're damn right I'd do it, because I'm a grown-up. But, for the rest of the time, I've always just wanted to do the kind of work that interested me." > Chris Wasser

Albert Nobbs is in cinemas, Friday, April 27