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Church convert; She admits the film `bombed',but Jemma Redgrave had a ball working with Charlotte Church on I'll Be There. By Wil Marlow.

Byline: Wil Marlow

JEMMA Redgrave is getting a bit irate. The subject of her recent film,I'll Be There,in which she starred alongside Charlotte Church making her acting debut,has been brought up and she's being fiercely protective of it.

Despite its universally bad reviews, she is adamant it's not a glitch in her career.

``I had such a good time making that film,'' she says.``I remember not wanting to work for a while after that because I had such a good experience. And I didn't work for a while, you have to be careful what you wish for don't you?'' shelaughs.

Jemma has a great laugh. It begins with a snort before evolving into a full-blown, raucous guffaw.It's very infectious,as is her enthusiasm for I'll Be There.

``It was very easy to hang any kind of prejudice or dislike for Charlotte on the film,'' she continues.``I may well be wrong but I think it's a delightful movie.

``I'm not stupid. I don't think everything I've ever done is fantastic.I've done a lot of stuff where I've thought maybe I'm not so good,but I did think that was good.''

Jemma, 39, is equally effusive about her famous co-star.``She was entirely instinctive and very natural and brought a lot of her warmth and humour to the part,'' she says.``I think,for a 16-year- old in her first part, that's great. I couldn't have done it at 16,I was hugely impressed by her.''

Thankfully for Jemma,one of the famous Redgrave/Richardson acting dynasty, she has more hits than misses in her career -her most notable success was the costume drama series Bramwell -and doesn't often have to stick up for her work like this.

Her next project looks set to be another hit for the actress, the two-part psychological thriller Amnesia,on ITV1 this week,in which she stars alongside John Hannah.

She plays the wife of an amnesiac whose life is turned upside down when Hannah's troubled detective starts investigating her husband's past.

Despite the intense plot, Jemma found the shoot an extremely enjoyable one. Her character and her husband run a boatyard and so the actress spent the heat wave during the summer of last year filming in a harbour on the Isle Of Wight.

``I took my three-year-old son Alfie and we had a very good time,'' she says.``It doesn't get much better than filming on a harbour and as long as Alfie had a crab net and a bucket,he had plenty to do. The weather was glorious and each day I'd go and do a bit of work and then come out and count the crabs with him.''

Jemma has two children,Alfie and nine-year-oldGabriel, with her husband of 12 years,barrister Tim Owen. She refrained from offering any advice to her co-star John, who recently became a parent himself,however.

``It was very early doors when we were working together so you never do when it's only early,'' she says.``Plus I think it's really awful to give advice about pregnancy or parenting in any way at all. If anybody was to ask me for advice I could go on until the end of time,but I certainly wouldn't offer it without being asked.''

Jemma often keeps her children with her when she's working. Both her sons went with her to South Africa when she filmed her previous drama for ITV,The Swap.

``Being a mother doesn't get harder or easier,it just changes all the time,'' she says.``It's always challenging. I thought it would get easier as they get older. I thought it would be really difficult to go to work when they were babies because the bond was so strong,and that as they got older they would be more independent.

``But I've found that I'm completely wrong and the reverse is true. They want you home more and more as they get older. The negotiation is endless.''

Her children are part of the next generation of a family that has produced acting talents like Jemma's grandfather Sir Michael, her aunt Vanessa,her father Corin and her cousins Natasha and Joely Richardson. Her son Gabriel is already showing signs of keeping up the family tradition of a show biz career.

``He wants to write comedy,'' says Jemma.``Well, that's what he wants to do at the moment. He loves comedy. He watches all sorts of comedy and I think he must think he's quite funny. And he is funny.''

Jemma showed similar determination when she was growing up,deciding she wanted to follow the family tradition and become an actress when she was barely a teenager. ``I was unimaginative,'' shelaughs. ``Didn't I want to rebel against family tradition?No.Isn't that boring?I'm clearly unrebellious.''

She trained by going to a youth theatre and then attending drama school and quickly started to get parts when she graduated. There seems to have been no downside to having a famous surname?

``No,'' sheagrees.``It opened doors,absolutely. It doesn't get you any jobs,producers will say they'll never offer you a job because of your surname, you'd only get it if you're a good actor. But it opens doors to get to those jobs and is entirely helpful. God knows you can do with every single bit of help you can get in this profession.''

Coming from a family of award- winning actors might have created a certain level of expectation from people hiring Jemma but she says she never let that bother her.

``I don't give a toss about expectation. As long as I'm getting jobs I don't care. You can stuff your expectations.''

That's all she's worried about in the future as well,just getting jobs. She has no big ambitions to make it big in Hollywood or become a household name on British television.

``What I'd like is longevity in my career and to do interesting work,'' she says.``I think that is quite an ambition to have for an actress because it's really tough. I would like to be working, that's what I'd like.

``I don't mind the odd bomb like I'll Be There,'' sheadds,once more guffawing.``It's true,I'll Be There was a bomb. But it wasn't a stink bomb, that's the important distinction. But it doesn't really matter.It's all work,it all pays the bills.''


Jemma Redgrave in Amnesia, the two-part ITV1psychological thriller in which she plays the wife of an amnesiac,played by John Hannah,above
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2004
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