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Interview: Susan Lynch - I could never PLAY A WIMP; You may know Irish actress Susan Lynch for her dark good looks, now she tells us what it's like lying at Johnny Depp's feet in a pool of blood and spending a week in bed with Ewan McGregor.

Byline: Annie Leask

You always play strong women. Beautiful Creatures was a Glaswegian Thelma And Louise, you played the lead in Nora - the film about James Joyce's unconventional wife - and a feisty single mum in Waking Ned. Now you're a femme fatale in TV's upcoming Sweet Revenge. Could you ever play a wimp?

I don't think so. I would always find it much more interesting to play the Al Pacino-type role than the weepy woman victim. I think I am attracted to strong female characters because I am quite a strong person. In Sweet Revenge Paul McGann plays a sort of revenge tutor, who helps a jilted girl played by Sophie Okonedo. My character Madeleine persuades him to help her avenge her brother's death. She is a very clever, mysterious woman and I find the psychology of her really interesting. I can't say too much about it because there are many twists and turns to keep viewers on edge. You never know what to believe about Madeleine. The one difference between myself and this type of character - and why I love playing them - is that they're always deeply calm, cool and collected and I am very deeply uncool. I mean, I go out in fabulous strappy high heels, then they make my feet bleed. I have to take them off and end up thinking: "Why didn't I wear my gutties?" (what the Irish call trainers).

Still, you always seem to get the guys - I mean the gorgeous leading men. You've just finished a film with Johnny Depp and you've worked with Ewan McGregor. Women everywhere will be insanely jealous, should they be? Well... Ewan is amazing - great fun and wonderful to work with. We had a wonderful time making Nora and became good friends. I was cast as Joyce's wife Nora Barnacle four years before the film was made and Ewan was Joyce. The funding for it fell through twice. In the end - because everyone felt so strongly about the movie - Ewan took over producing it with his own production company, Natural Nylon. Unfortunately, I didn't have many scenes with Johnny Depp in From Hell. Johnny was great. He didn't stay on his own in his trailer like some actors of his stature might. He mixed with the rest of us and was really lovely. I just wish I'd had more scenes with him, but mainly I was lying at his feet in a pool of fake blood. Actually, it is all so bloody that the director told me they felt they may have problems with my death and the film censors because it is so graphic.

I hear your time with Ewan was mainly spent having sex - the on-screen kind of course. Are those types of scenes embarrassing, or is it just like another day at the office? It is true that Ewan and I spent an entire week of filming in bed. Joyce and Nora had a very intense and sexual relationship, so doing the film was pretty heavy - especially that week. But Ewan and I just clicked and we were very comfortable with each other, which made the sex scenes much more comfortable for everyone. I always think doing love scenes is harder for the crew than the actors because at least you are concentrating on trying to look like you are making love, whereas the poor crew just don't know where to look. You do try and lighten these scenes up with jokes sometimes. We did during a love scene with Paul McGann in Sweet Revenge. I had to have my hair straightened for the role and the hair and make-up people were having to come over during the bed scene and smooth my hair. So for one scene we hid a mobile phone under the covers. Someone was going to ring it and I would answer it saying: "Oh, actually my hair's just fine," then look over at Paul and say: "And so is his". Everyone was in on it except the director, but he saw the phone and shouted: "What's that mobile doing there?" We all fell about laughing anyway.

Don't you have to wear those funny little flesh-coloured triangles for nude scenes - in case the viewers accidentally get a flash of pubic hair? (After guffaws of laughter) That's exactly what they were, these funny little plastic triangles you had to put over your bits. I don't think they have them any more - I don't know what they were called, but no one uses them now. Ever since I did an Italian film called Deceit I decided I was never going to get precious about taking my clothes off. I had sex scenes with an Italian co-star and he was so weird about checking his triangle's position it put me off them for life. In the same film an actress, who shall remain nameless, spent five hours sobbing in a toilet debating whether to walk into the kitchen nude for a scene. We all backed her up against the director, then she came out and said she was going to do the scene. It just seemed so stupid to put everyone out just for one person to get her head around taking her clothes off.

That's easy for you to say, you have a fabulous figure. What if you were fat and spotty and had to show everyone your body? Aargh! That's where you're wrong. I feel like I am fat and spotty and look awful when I have to show all my bits to the cameras - I think most actors do. People look at actors on screen and think: "Oh! Look at so-and-so, I bet her f**ts smell of roses". Believe me, they don't. Actors are the same as anyone, with all the insecurities.

So would you have plastic surgery to keep those insecurities at bay? Well, I went through this phase of thinking my boobies were too small and wanting bigger ones. But I decided I couldn't face the idea of putting a foreign body inside them. I felt I'd wake up in the middle of the night screaming, with them trying to burst out of my body.

You mean like in the film Alien? (Much giggling) Yes, just like that!

You said you feel fat. But you've never had an eating disorder have you? No, but I do feel quite strongly about the way women are portrayed in magazines. I was asked to do a photo shoot recently and I wanted to pose in ordinary clothes because I remember how my sisters and I used to look at people in those magazines who had been given the benefit of special lighting and professional make-up. Those unrealistic pictures would just make us feel s**t about ourselves because no one can look like that in real life. I am very conscious of not wanting to make other girls feel that way.

So you don't go to the gym or diet? I've recently started to eat more healthily. Now I have reached 29 it is more of a health thing than a figure thing. My mother is Italian and I eat like a pig. Every now and then I have to tell myself: "Susan, you don't have to eat a whole plate of pasta - you can eat half a plate."

And what about exercise? I hate anything like going to the gym or aerobics classes. They remind me of PE lessons and always being the one in the class who couldn't keep up. In the last few months I have taken up yoga though. Not because I want to look like Geri Halliwell, but because it is something I can do at home on my own.

Waking Ned was a massive hit in America and here, yet got poor reviews, the same with Beautiful Creatures. Did that hurt? No because I don't read reviews. I really, really don't. I can only do a job to the best of my ability and I don't care what people think. I do care what my family and friends think, but I am not in this business to be loved - only to be good. I do feel loved anyway - I know who loves me.

Does that self-confidence stem from your happy and stable family background? Yes I think so. My parents have a long and happy marriage and I am the youngest of five. I was spoilt and protected - we all still look out for each other and are very close. We have such a laugh when we are together.

How do you manage being away from them when you're working? I have a house in the north of Ireland, near the bottom of a mountain. They all live close by and as long as I go back and do my garden once a month I am fine. We still all get teary when I am leaving though. It is a strong family bond. One of my sisters has three children and one brother has two, and the kids play on that same mountain, just like we used to. I am getting broody and I would love to bring up my children there. It must be my age.

Are all your siblings married? Yes, all except me.

So no pressure, then? They all really, really, want me to get married. I think they just know it will be a great shindig.

What about this Aussie horse wrangler guy you were seeing in 1999. You said the distance was "not a problem"? That was years ago! And (laughing) I think the distance thing got the better of us.

So the family confetti will have to stay in mothballs then? Erm, I have actually been seeing someone for the past eight months. He's a director and we share a flat in London. He's great and I love him. I met him when we were at London's Central School Of Speech And Drama. He was my first love. We were together for two years and it ended badly, but we met again 10 years later. I feel much more secure and relaxed with him now. I feel like we look at the world in the same way, so who knows what might happen?

CAPTION(S):

GETTING THEIR OWN BACK With Paul McGann and Sophie Okonedo in Sweet Revenge
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2001
Words:1719
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