British actress Jessie Buckley speaks ahead of new film Wild Rose

Why Jessie Buckley is a reluctant movie star

British actress Jessie Buckley speaks ahead of new film Wild Rose

Jessie Buckley first appeared on television when she was 17. Not as an extra in a period drama but in the BBC talent show I’d Do Anything, which aimed to find a new Nancy for the stage show of Oliver! in London’s West End. She came second.

“It feels like a whole other life,” she admits. Twelve years on and the Irish actress has now made period epics for the channel (Taboo, War & Peace) as well as the leap into movies with 2018’s thriller Beast.

In her latest film, Wild Rose, she plays a single mum from Glasgow chasing her musical dreams. Turns out coming second opens plenty of doors.

You play a wannabe country star in Wild Rose. Have you ever met any of your music heroes?
When we wrapped in Nashville, me and a friend did a road trip and I met Bonnie Raitt.

I sat in the audience and wailed. When I went backstage to meet her, I couldn’t even string a sentence together.

What was your favourite scene to shoot?
I really loved singing [Chris Stapleton’s] Outlaw State of Mind. It just was a massive party. All the hen party extras were having a blast.

Who were the hen party extras?
Women we’d met on the estate in [Glasgow suburb] Maryhill. I was going to set one day and they were all having a great time. When I came into work the next day, they’d brought me doughnuts. It was only right I brought them down.

Was it hard to master the accent?
I was really scared so I worked on it for three or four months, including a month based in Glasgow, before filming. I’d speak in a Glaswegian accent and hope that I’d be able to order a bag of chips.

Did you pull off the subterfuge?
I think so. They didn’t go: “You’re lying!”

There’s a lot of talk about you being on the verge of something big. Do you ever think about stuff like that?

I don’t really know what that is. I feel like I’ve had loads of moments – like when I got into RADA or getting the part in Beast. Everything adds up.

What do you think about fame – do you want to be in the spotlight?
I don’t want to be anywhere near a spotlight! Only if I’m performing. It doesn’t really affect my life. I cycle, I go swimming, I cook with my flatmates, I go out dancing. I live a pretty normal life.

You grew up in Kerry. Do you get homesick?
Yeah. I’m very close to my family and it can be lonely if you’re travelling around on jobs. We live in a very natural, really beautiful place with mountains and lakes and stuff. I really miss that rootedness.

Do you think of London as home now?
I do. But I miss nature and being by myself sometimes. I live near the canal in east London, so I like running there. I don’t know if it will be my home forever.

You’re in Judy with Renée Zellweger. What was the best moment on set?
We filmed a scene in a theatre in Hackney and she was singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I was standing beside Michael Gambon and he was streaming with tears. I was crying too.

You’re also in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. Are you voicing am animal?
No, I’m playing Queen Victoria. I was only on set for two weeks.

Did you want to be one of the animals?
Yeah. What would I be? Probably a squirrel. I’m quite squirrelly. I like eating nuts [laughs].
Wild Rose is in cinemas across Qatar from June 13.

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