An Interview With… Sinead Matthews

Hi everyone, and today on the blog, I’m delighted to welcome Sinead Matthews.

Sinead is a fantastic actress and I was really pleased when she agreed to an interview about her career highlights. She also chats about how the pandemic has affected her job.

Over to you, Sinead…

1) How did you first become to be involved in the industry? Was it something you always wanted to do? Did you have any other career plans?

Becoming an actor for me seemed like such a no go area, as I had a stammer growing up so I was more into dancing which I loved and for a long time I thought that is what I wanted to do with my life.

I wasn’t particularly academic and was a bit of a day dreamer at school. It was my very brilliant ballet teacher who recommended to me at 15 yrs old to go to Stratford-Upon- Avon college to do a drama A Level package and being young and impressionable I did exactly that.

It’s there that I met like minded people who were into the same things as me that I discovered I wanted to audition for drama school. I did and thankfully I got into RADA and on graduating got the most brilliant agent and managed to get work straight away.

2) Your career has varied between television, film and theatre. Which of the three would you say is your favourite and why?

I feel very lucky that I have been able to work in theatre, TV and film. Film will probably be my first love as I was obsessed with films from an early age and would watch them over and over again . But theatre.. is truly where my heart is now. There is nothing like it. From the minute you get cast to the minute you take your final bow in your final show . It’s such a ride , to be a part of the company , the rehearsals ( one of my favourite places to be in the world ) I love putting scenes and characters under a microscope and in rehearsals you really get to do that.

You go on such a journey with it all… and then equally another journey from show number 1 to the end . The live experience is so unique both for the actor and the audience.

I do also love doing independent films. It’s a very similar experience to theatre as it’s very often a passion project for the people who are doing it. I have life long friends from doing films and theatre. You feel part of a community and I guess that’s all we want.

3) When you read a script, what do you pay attention to in particular? Does the character leap off the page for you? What makes you think ‘Yes, I want to play this role!’?

When reading a script I can usually tell quite quickly if I want to be a part of it, it doesn’t have to be the lead at all. I like to be challenged, I like to play flawed people. I often play people who live on the edge of society. I like finding out what makes the character tick.. what their contradictions are… where they can be hypocritical and what their vulnerabilities are. There is nothing better than being in a well written project as a lot of the work is done.

You have a great foundation to bounce off and of course then you can just focus on acting with the other actors and making that connection.

As soon as I read the script for the film Jellyfish I knew straight away I wanted to play that part. It leapt off the page at me. As did the story… I knew they had a way to go with funding and bringing it all together but I said I don’t care how you do it, where you do it, I’m doing it! I wanted to be part of it no matter what – that’s a nice feeling when that happens.

4) How did you find your current agent? Would you say the process is the same for a writer seeking representation? For example, a submission reel is the same as a sample of a manuscript?

Well I got my agent at drama school as they have showcases and shows where agents producers directors and writers all come to see you in your third year . Without an agent or drama school I don’t know how I would have gotten into the industry.

Often actors if they want to change agents will send their show reels to agents to look at so I guess that’s similar to a manuscript.

5) How have you been coping during lockdown? As an actress, how has lockdown affected you?

Lockdown has been kind of mad from the beginning. I was into my second week of rehearsals for a brilliant play at the Donmar Theatre and I had work pretty much planned for the whole year. And we are now over a year later and still in the same situation . I’ve managed to do bits and bobs of work stuff . I did an online play for the Royal Court called My White Best Friend. I’ve done some online play readings and also an episode of Midsomer Murders which was lots of fun! Ive recorded a few radio plays and also a brilliant radio play for Audible playing Marilyn Monroe.

I’ve missed the theatre community and my friends hugely . I hadn’t realised just how much my social life revolves around theatre so without it this past year my social life has disappeared. I have however enjoyed the down time and taking time out from it all and I’ve truly embraced my inner reclusive.

6) One of your stand out roles, for me, was Rachel Burns in Trial and Retribution: Curriculum Vitae. How did you prepare for the part and what did you enjoy about playing her?

I absolutely loved playing Rachel Burns in Trial and Retribution. What a part! So rich and colourful and spontaneous… It was my first lead on TV and it was so brilliantly written and directed. It really gave me so much confidence in myself and I learned so so much, I read a lot of books on personality disorders and serial killers basically and watched movies. I just tried my best to get inside the mind of someone who would do what she did.

I loved how it really kept the audience on their toes the whole time, them never knowing for sure whether she was a victim or the perpetrator. I have a lot of fond memories from that job.

7) During the pandemic, what have you missed most about the day to day routine of your job?

I would I say the thing I’ve missed most about being in lockdown is the routine of going to rehearsals. I love routine. The going to rehearsals every day and seeing the same people and building relationships and bonds with your company. Also the little victories you have when you feel like you’ve made a big discovery about the character or why a character does something. Even down to where you would go for lunch every day.

I would even say I ALMOST miss the tube rides there and back as it’s often time to think about the days work or think about the day ahead. Prepare for scenes. It also means when you get a day off you have earned it ! Whereas it’s felt like one long year off.

8) Are you currently reading any books? Between fiction and non fiction, what is your favourite? Do you have a favourite genre?

I absolutely love reading but I have to say I have found it very difficult to read this past year and can probably count on one hand how many books I’ve read . I love biographies.. of writes , actors , artists. I recently read a fabulous book called Expectation by Anna Hope . I really felt like I could relate to it and the world of the book is still in my head in little movies.

I have 100’s of movies in my head from books I’ve read over the years… going right back to when I was 10. I don’t really have a favourite genre as they offer such different things. I’m definitely someone who if struggling or going through a particularly emotional time I will turn to poetry books to help me deal with my melancholy.

But I do love a good fiction novel one you can really get lost in and never want to end. I adored the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan Novels. They were incredible!

9) During lockdown, what have you been watching on television? Do you have a favourite programme that you watch religiously?

I have watched a lot of television this past year .. it’s been my saving grace I think . I adored Schitts Creek. I binged it and was so so sad when it was over . I do love a murder/ crime documentary! Doesn’t everyone . I’ve also watched some really vacuous shows like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills .. it’s total escapism . And can provide brilliant drama when it wants to.
I loved Succession . I watched that last year at the beginning of lockdown and am awaiting the next series . After Life has stayed with me too. So funny and so sad . Also the American Office is absolute genius and I’ve been watching it a lot this past year.

10) If you had a choice only listening to Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury (Queen) or Brian Johnson (AC/DC), who would you choose and why?

For me it has to be Freddie Mercury – What a performer!! From an early age I would watch my aunty Kathleen dancing round the house to Queen and talk about how sexy and charismatic he was.

When I watch videos of him there is no one like him. I instantly think of the Live Aid concert in 1985 where Queen came out and stole the whole show… no one was expecting it at all. Freddie had thousands of people in the palm of his hand. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking of his talent!

Thank you for your time tonight Sinead – it has been an absolute pleasure to interview you. Thank you for the opportunity!

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