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5 minutes with Jeany Spark: 'Acting is such a weird way to spend your life'

Currently appearing as Kyra in Skylight, we talk to the Wallander actress about coping without work and being terrified by David Hare and Kenneth Branagh

Jeany Spark

I was quite a late starter to the old acting game. I was studying English at university because I wanted to be a journalist. A friend and I got pissed at the pub one night and saw a sign that said 'auditions this way' with an arrow. We thought it would be funny to go half-cut, and both got parts in a production of A Clockwork Orange. We felt bad saying "we were pissed, sorry", so we just stuck with it. I thought "these excitable, creative misfits are my people".

Jeany Spark (Kyra) and Jay Villiers (Tom) in Skylight
© Mark Carline

There's always a moment when I think: 'This is such a weird way to spend your life'. One time in particular was when I was on a shoot in Spain. It was the first time I'd ever flown business class, and got to eat as many tiny pastries as I wanted, proper freeloading. On the way back, I was chauffeured - in a nice black Mercedes - to Kentish Town where I was sleeping on a friend's sofa, and it was back to reality.

I cope with long periods without work very badly. I eat a lot of biscuits and hibernate a bit. It's weird when you've done a lot of telly, because your programmes will be repeated. People will say how well you're doing at the moment and I think: "Mate, I've just been sitting on the sofa eating a lot of cinnamon cereal and watching the Gilmore Girls. I've got better at taking care of myself as I've got older, but it's tough around the four month mark. That's where I go a bit doolally.

Kenneth Branagh is an inspiration. I've spent a lot of time with him over the last ten years. His energy and focus is amazing. He knows everything about telling a story for TV, from lens sizes to directing it to lighting it. It took me a few years to stop being terrified of acting with him.

Tamara Harvey has been a wonderful director. Someone wrote an article that said they can't think of a production of Skylight with a female director. It's been interesting. She brings an innate solidarity with Kyra which is interesting, from a gender point of view. She's very wise. she's taken the time to figure out whether there should be certain gags at certain points.

David Hare himself came to rehearsals to give us some notes. That was great. I'm not sure if it was more brilliant or more terrifying. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to play a role like Kyra in front of the writer, and the writer is Sir David Hare.

Click here to read our review of Skylight

Skylight runs at Clwyd Theatr Cymru until 4 March.

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