Claire Loy Interview
IFM: First off Claire, tell us a bit about yourself, and how you first get into acting.
Right, well if this was a “day job” interview I’d say things like. I’m a hard working, dedicated team player!
I’m Claire, an actor based in Cork. I was born in Louth then moved to Athlone then to Cork then to Kerry and back to Cork. I’m not really sure how I got into acting but I remember that when I was very small, about 4 or 5 I would re-enact scenes I saw on television shows like Columbo (which is still to this day one of my favourites). I’d stand on this old brown couch we had so I could see myself in the mirror over the fireplace and say things like” You’re under arrest for murder” than I’d do this really dramatic faint onto the floor. In infants school I was cast as Harry the lonely Hedgehog, I was very excited until I saw my awful costume which was a brown jumper with pegs and some brown tights, I was very jealous of the girl in 1st class who was cast as the fairy princess and got to wear a Communion dress.
Outside of acting I am an avid collector if vintage clothes, in particular evening wear which can come in handy for costuming plays or films. I’ve just recently started running and really like to keep fit and healthy, so I like to cook and try new foods. I’m also addicted to peep Show and have developed a very unhealthy obsession with David Mitchell.
IFM: Tell us about the training you’ve gone through over the years.
When I first moved to Cork we had a Speech and Drama teacher Miss Carlisle who would come into our primary school once a week.She cast me as a rat in the Pied Piper, I loved it. From there I joined the Boomerang Youth Theatre, and after that continued to train with various people including Colaiste Stiofan Naoife, The Gaiety in Cork and countless workshops in everything from physical theatre, voice, screen acting, Shakespearean work and stand up comedy. I’m always looking to do more training. For most actors keeping their skills sharp and learning new ones is extremely important. It is vital that we continue to learn new things.
IFM: What’s the best advice you got when starting out?
Always be yourself, always prepare, prepare prepare and never take direction from anyone other than the director and listen. If you prepare well then auditions and performances are enjoyable, you have done the hard part with all the prep work. At the same time if you are auditioning and have prepared really well you still must be able to listen to the director or casting director and follow what they tell you, take the direction, be open to change.
IFM: You’ve completed extensive work on stage, give us an idea what you’ve performed in.
Most recently I was in ‘Shakers’ at Cork Arts Theatre. It was adapted from it’s original Northern England setting to Cork. It was just great fun and the first time I had worked on such a physical piece of theatre. It’s about 4 cocktail waitresses, but each waitress as well as playing themselves, play at least 6 or 7 other characters – the customers on an average night. It was physically demanding, and ran for 3 weeks, but the four of us got on so well and had such energy together that each night at work was a joy. Other than that I have worked on Shakespeare – King Lear where I played Gonerill. I’ve also devised some work with Maria O’Callaghan (together we formed Chapter Theatre Productions) which we performed at Camden Palace in Cork City. It was called ‘Boomers!’ and it was about Celtic Tiger Bridezillas. I was also in a production of Maina Carr’s ‘The Mai’. In the future I would love to do more theatre, in particular Shakespeare.
IFM: In TV and film there is always the safety net if you forget a line etc. Stage work is completely different. What would you say are the greatest challenges you face when doing live theatre work?
Trust. Trust is definitely the greatest challenge to any stage performance. You must trust yourself that you have put the preparation in. If you can do that, then you can relax, concentrate and everything will be fine. You also really need to trust the other cast members. You need to know that if you’re dry they are there to help dig you out of the hole of the forgotten line. There is nothing worse than watching a performance and see an actor dry and nobody helps them out. To me, that says that the other actors have no idea that a play, film etc is not about the individual but about the story. The story is the important part, not looking like you’re the best actor on stage. Forgetting a line can and does happen to anyone, you get out of it by having professional cast mates, and being able to improvise your way back in. You will of course get notes about it after the show : )
IFM: Would you say there was anyone who was instrumental in shaping you as an actress?
I think every teacher, workshop facilitator, director I’ve worked with has shaped me in some way, in that the more I learn about acting the more comfortable I am with it and myself. I am certainly gaining in confidence and relaxing into it more and more, which again comes from trust and being open to learning.
IFM: You’re proficient in a number of dialects. How do you go about perfecting an accent, and do you think it’s an important skill for an actor to have?
I love working on accents, I can’t sing so it is as musical as I can get. I love listening to radio, in particular Radio 4 (podcasts) and I listen to a lot of audiobooks so I am constantly listening to other accents. I also use a book and cd called ‘How To Do Accents’ , I think you can get it on Amazon!
IFM: You’ve also appeared in a number of short films. Is film and TV something you’d like to do more of in the future?
Definitely. I want to build up a new showreel and have been looking for projects to do that. I’ve worked, in tiny roles on a few TV shows and it was such a brilliant experience.I loved every second of it. I have done a few shorts and a student feature which were great. It’s great to be part of something that so many people have worked on and I certainly want to do more. The larger shows being shot in Ireland seem to really only cast men, which is very frustrating. Roles for women in these shows are few, and when they are there it’s almost inevitably for a nude scene.
IFM: What would you say is your best quality as an actress?
I’m a hard working, dedicated team player! I try to bring an honesty to any character I’m playing in that, I never judge them, which can be hard at times. I try to be as natural as possible, especially in dramatic performances and not get bogged down in “Acting”. In preparation I take time to go through the characters back story, and know as much as I can about them, their circumstance. I always choose a song for them, what they’d listen to on their ipod or whatever and build up a complete picture of them .I write out what their favourite memory is and what was the best thing Santa gave them as a kid, things like that so by the time they are an adult (in the script) they are a human being with a past present and future.
IFM: And finally, what has the rest of 2012 got in store for you?
At the moment I’m working on a new reel and a voice reel. I’m auditioning as much as I can, and am doing as many workshops as I can. I have no idea what the rest of the year has in store for me, but I’m a firm believer in making your own luck and opportunities.