Arts Q&A: Actress Alexandra Ford on The Stone Roses, Shakespeare and clubbing

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Give My Head Peace actress Alexandra Ford

Give My Head Peace star Alexandra Ford

1. When did you think about a career in acting and what were your first steps into it?

Probably aged four. Honestly, I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t dream of becoming an actress. I went on to study Drama and English at university, leaving with a 1:1 Honours degree and then won a bursary to enable me to attend a short course at RADA, specialising in Shakespeare. Then I met my mate Damon Quinn (of the Hole in the Wall Gang) on my second professional gig and my fate to become Dympna was sealed. That was back in 1998 and I haven’t looked back since then. It is wonderful being part of the Give My Head Peace 'family'.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

My first ever gig was the The Stone Roses at Maysfield Leisure Centre in 1990. I couldn’t believe my mum let me go as I’d just turned 16. It was unforgettably amazing. And Lush Classical – what an incredible collaboration between the club and the amazing Ulster Orchestra. Truth be told, I’ll always be a clubber at heart.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Prince. Can you imagine?

4. The record you’d take to a desert island and why?

I'd choose Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.

5. And the book?

Boatbuilding: A Complete Handbook of Wooden Boat Construction by Howard Chappelle.

6. Top three films?

It’s a Wonderful Life – it’s life-affirming loveliness with the inimitable Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reid and a buffalo moon.

The Shawshank Redemption – I love this story of finding beauty and humanity in the most arduous of places. Morgan Freeman’s velvety voice-over relays this tale of wrongful conviction as Andy Dufresne sets about escaping the injustice that befell him.

A Room with a View – beautiful performances from a cornucopia of stars set against a stunning Italian backdrop. It never fails to make me giggle and features the ultimate passionate screen kiss in a field of poppies. It’s utterly beguiling.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

The Wolf of Wall Street – as it is a sad of indictment of human greed.

8. Favourite authors?

David Mitchell, Jeanette Winterson – a fiercely intelligent feminist, who writes like a poet and has an imagination that constantly surprises and delights – and William Shakespeare. I love surprising my kids by revealing that lines like, "screw your courage to the sticking place" don’t come from the musical Hamilton or The Simpsons TV series, but are actually by the Bard.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

I don’t enjoy any sport or follow any teams – unless you count my wee boy’s football team?

10. Ideal holiday destination?

The Maldives. I’ve been fortunate enough to go there three times and I truly adore it. The pace of life is slow, it’s incredible being immersed in nature and the beaches are fit for an ad for a well-known chocolate bar.

11. Pet Hate?

Bad grammar.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Risotto. It used to be a juicy rare steak, but I’m living a mostly vegetarian diet these days and am loving it.

Dessert? Tiramisu.

Drink? A glass of Champagne.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

I’m fortunate to have really amazing girlfriends but my most enduring and precious friendship is with my brother. He’s a few years younger than me, constantly takes the Mick out of me, makes me laugh like no-one else and always has my back.

14. Is there a God?

Absolutely, as I couldn’t imagine my life without faith.

Alexandra Ford plays Dympna in Give My Head Peace: The Derry Girl on BBC One Northern Ireland, Friday January 17 at 10.35pm, and also available on BBC iPlayer

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