‘Working with Spielberg was a dream come true’

Actress Susan Lynch
Actress Susan Lynch

Northern Ireland actress Susan Lynch is the daughter of an Italian mother, which explains her exquisite, continental good looks.

The 47-year-old Newry actress, a three-time Irish Film and Television Award winner, has recently worked with Hollywood director Steven Spielberg on his movie Ready Player One and has given many stand-out performances throughout her career, including a star-turn as Nora Barnacle to Ewan McGregor’s James Joyce in the 2000 film biopic. Lynch has also worked with some of the hottest men in Hollywood including Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and the aforementioned McGregor.

Working with Spielberg has to be a positively climactic moment in any actress’s career: “It was one of the most exciting times I’ve ever had working with him. He’s so normal, just, so, so, so normal. Just really into the actors and really into what’s happening and curious and funny and enigmatic and involved. I was so nervous meeting him the first time on set.I’d just sent a tape for the audition so hadn’t met him since getting the part, but within 30 seconds he made me feel totally comfortable. He was an absolute gentleman.

“The film is a science fiction adventure so it’s basically about this young guy played by Tye Sheridan who lives in these crazy futuristic flats with his aunt Alice, me, and his uncle Ralph. He goes into this weird virtual reality world and it’s so fantastical and wonderful.”

Ready Player One, which was released in March and also stars Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance, takes place in 2045, when much of humanity uses the virtual reality software OASIS to escape the desolation of the real world. Orphaned teenager Wade Watts (Sheridan) discovers clues to a hidden game within the program that promises the winner full ownership of the OASIS, and joins several allies to try to complete the game before a large company run by businessman Nolan Sorrento can do so.

The film received generally positive reviews with critics praising its visuals and brisk pacing.

Susan is also an accomplished theatre actress having treaded the boards in multiple productions at the Royal National Theatre in London and in 2008 was one of the leads in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Almedia (a play abpout Judas in a courtroom in purgatory).

When we talk she is on a train and her soft brogue makes it difficult to hear her steady flow of funny, eloquent and witty sentences.

Audiences can expect to hear more about Lynch’s compelling career when she is interviewed by playwright Daragh Carville on Saturday November 3 as part of the 2018 John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival in Armagh.

“I hope it won’t just be me blethering on,” says Lynch.

“I am particularly proud of having played Nora (Barnacle) so I’d say I’d talk about her.

‘‘She was such an intriguing figure. Joyce set Ulysses on the date when they first met.

‘‘He knew immediately that he wanted to be with her. Ireland was so Catholic then and there was Nora making out with Joyce in a back street, not caring what passersby would say.

“That showed a particular freedom from convention that Joyce of course admired. She was so wild. He saw her as progressive and liberated, with this kind of spiritual, sexual energy, unlike other women in repressive Ireland at the time.

‘‘There would have beeen people who said that if she hadn’t left Galway she would have been locked up.

“Playing her demanded a lot of energy. She had a darker side too, I don’t think she was a great parent and I’m not sure how she would have been with other women, everything was about him.

‘‘They had two children, Giorgio and Lucia, who was schizophrenic.”

Does she feel as passionate about acting as when she first began inhabiting other characters, escaping into alternative worlds of make-believe?

“I love the variety of it.

‘‘ The last project I was doing was By the Bog of Cats at the Abbey Theatre, a very dramatic and quite a torturous role - I ended up just having to sleep a lot it was so taxing.

‘‘When you’re performing it’s like a marathon and you’re enjoying it and then when you come off the stage you literally just collapse. And then other characters are quite fun.

‘‘I’ll be playing one called Angftron in next week’s episode of Doctor Who.”

Susan, who is married with a son and lives in Gloustershire, announces that she is set to star in the new Downton Abbey film.

“I don’t know if I can say much about it or they might shoot me dead,” she quips.

“It’s a very big cast so it’s kind of like an ensemble style show, with about 24 characters.

‘‘I can’t say more than that I’m playing a character called Miss Lawton.

“It was so much fun to film - I had the best craic of my life.

“The costumes and the set are just splendid. I’m a real fan of Imelda Staunton, who also stars, so I spent all my time hanging out with her. We’re both kind of naughty and rebellious.”

Susan Lynch will be in conversation with playwright Daragh Carville at the John O’Connor on Saturday November 3 as part of the 2018 John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival in Armagh.

For more information on the festival visit thejohnoconnorwritingschool.com/