Over the past nine years, actress Anne-Marie Duff has worked steadily, compiling an ever-more impressive list of credits.

On stage, these have included A Doll's House and Mill on the Floss for Shared Experience; at the National Theatre, War and Peace and the Ian Holm-led King Lear; and in the West End, Vassa and, playing opposite Helen Mirren, the UK premiere of Collected Stories, for which Duff was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Olivier in 2000.

On television, she has appeared in Wild West, Doctor Zhivago, Sinners, The Way We Live Now, The Cold War, Reach for the Moon, Aristocrats, Amongst Women and Trial and Retribution. The actress' film credits include The Magdalene Sisters, Enigma and Mild and Bitter.

Now, after an 18-month absence for filming, Duff returns to the stage to star in the Young Vic production of DH Lawrence's The Daughter in Law, the first major revival since the 1912 play was first seen, nearly 35 years ago, at the Royal Court.


Date & place of birth
Born 8 October 1970 in London.

Lives now in
Muswell Hill, north London.

Trained at... The Drama Centre.

First big break
I always think that's a difficult question. By its very nature, it means whatever preceded your 'break' isn't worthy. Everything I've done has been a steady progression. There's been no single job that has changed my life.

Career highlights to date
'Highlights' are similar to 'big breaks'; I don't like to think about the jobs I've done in that way. I have found working with certain people very exciting and I've been lucky to work with several directors more than once.

Favourite productions you've ever worked on
At the moment, The Daughter in Law is my favourite. It's heaven. David Lan is adorable, a really lovely director, and the cast are incredible to work with. They're all such brilliant storytellers and they care so much about making it work.

Favourite co-stars
Ian Holm (from King Lear) and Helen Mirren (from Collected Stories) are the most famous actors I've worked with and they're wonderful but so are all the others. I wouldn't really like to single one out. In the nine years of my career, I've never not wanted to work with someone again. I told an actor friend that and he couldn't believe it, but it's true.

Favourite directors
David Lan, Howard Davies, everyone at Shared Experience. Last year I also worked with the film director Peter Mullan on The Magdalene Sisters and that was important in terms of changing my attitude to being in front of the camera. With Peter, the process was very egalitarian, it was all about storytelling and the work. It was more like theatre. In general, what makes a director exciting is the same thing that makes an actor exciting - the notion that we're all turned on by what we're doing. Good directors are also brilliant at making you, the actor, feel like you're doing all the work.

Favourite playwrights
Thomas Middleton, Arthur Miller... so many. But I'd really like to do a new play. With Shared Experience, we devised a lot of new work but they were mainly adaptations, and Collected Stories had already been done so much in the States. I've never done a brand new play. I'd love to wear a pair of jeans and say 'fuck' on stage.

What roles would you like to play still?
I should be so lucky to be able to choose! I'd love to be good enough one day to play Hedda Gabler, Viola, Rosalyn or a million of those classic female roles. As I get older, there's just no end to the interesting parts to play. Playing Nora (in Shared Experience's A Doll's House) was a really big thing for me. And now, playing Minnie (in The Daughter in Law) is a little dream come true.

If you hadn't become an actor, what would you have done professionally?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer - as well as an air hostess or an artist. I didn't have one big moment when I decided to act. In fact, I've always been quite shy. But it's all wrapped up in storytelling, I suppose. I need to tell stories.

What was the last stage production you saw that you really enjoyed?
Vincent in Brixton. Clare Higgins was incredible. I used to live in Brixton, across from Hackford Road, where Van Gogh lived so I've always been curious about it.

What advice would you give the government to secure the future of British theatre?
They need to understand the importance of stories and our right to tell them. I spent the whole of last year working on films about people who didn't have a voice. I think that was the first time I really understood how important it is, how medicinal it can be. In this country, people don't think of theatre in that basic way, they don't think of it as a necessary thing because we take our freedom of speech for granted. But it's vital.

If you could swap places with one person (living or dead), who would it be?
The first name that comes to mind is Jennifer Aniston, so I could be married to Brad Pitt. But really I'd love to be someone who changed the world, like Emily Pankhurst. It might also be fun to be Audrey Hepburn for a day. I don't think I'd actually want to swap with anyone, though.

Favourite books
I don't have favourite books so much as favourite authors. Those include Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Atkinson and, of course, DH Lawrence.

Favourite holiday destinations
I think Florence is the most beautiful place. When I go there, I wonder, what the hell do I live in Muswell Hill for? Last year, I visited the west coast of Ireland and that was also breathtaking.

Favourite after-show haunts
I'm not terribly glamorous and I don't belong to a club or anything like that. I just like to get some nice food with friends sometimes; I don't care where.

Favourite websites
Amazon - all those books!

Why did you want to accept your role in The Daughter in Law?
I first read The Daughter in Law when I was 18 - I found it in the Uxbridge Library one afternoon - and I loved it, though in hindsight, I don't think I really understood it. I had just discovered Lawrence and was devouring his work. When I found out the Young Vic were reviving it, I was ecstatic. I thought, I don't care if I don't do it, it's just so exciting that it's being done. Of course, I did really want the part, too. I was filming in the middle of the Czech Republic when I found out I got it, but there was no one around so I had to phone my mum just so I could tell someone.

What works by DH Lawrence had you previously read?
I've mainly read his novels - The Rainbow, Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley's Lover, of course. I'm reading The White Peacock at the moment.

Why do you think Lawrence's plays are performed so rarely?
I don't know! I can't really understand why his work isn't fashionable because it's so brilliant. When I was at the Drama Centre, the other half of my year put on A Collier's Friday Night and I remember thinking what an amazing chamber piece it was. Lawrence's work is so sexy and challenging and modern. Let's hope that this production is the start of renewed interest.

What's your favourite line from The Daughter in Law?
The play is full of brilliant lines. Lawrence has this incredible capacity for lancing the boil, striking home, hitting the bulls-eye. No one is ever let off the hook when a character is being evasive or cowardly. It's exhilarating to play because all the characters are so tied up in each other. He writes about the space in between people.

What are your plans for the future?
I haven't a clue what's coming up next. I should take a holiday but I'm such a workaholic - I just can't say no to a good job, I'm too greedy. I would love to do more theatre in the near future. Before The Daughter in Law, I spent 18 months doing films and I was absolutely desperate to get back to the theatre. I haven't felt this happy work-wise in a long time. Every day now I wake up and can't wait to start work. It's going to be an amazing production.


The Daughter in Law opens at the Young Vic on 12 September and continues to 12 October 2002 (previews from 5 September).