Thursday, 14 February 2013

Exclusive Interview with Ashley McGuire, Derek’s Shelley

Today I've had the pleasure of speaking to Ashley McGuire, who played villain Shelley in Derek episode three last night. To act such a loathsome character so convincingly means that Ashley is a super talent and, like just about all of the cast members in Derek, she has a fantastic back catalogue of work in film, TV, radio and on-stage.

Derek star - Ashley McGuire
I think I would have been petrified of Karl at his most volatile, whilst I can imagine Ricky was in stitches. Ashley was in the thick it, involved in some of the most powerful scenes of the show that brought out the best (or worst) in Dougie.

So, on the back of the show last night, there were loads of questions I wanted to ask:

You played Shelley in Derek last night, probably the most loathsome character in the show to date. You certainly struck a chord with fans – do you enjoy playing that kind of role?
Yes, it's always fun to play the villain! I seem to specialise in playing the most challenging aspects of society. However, I do always try to find the heart of the character - what has made them this way etc. I have to find the truth and the human being underneath or it would be two-dimensional and nobody would really believe me. I hope I managed to do that with Shelley - judging by the tweets I received last night I may have!

Karl, as Dougie, looked so worked up when he confronted Shelley. Ricky says he wasn't acting, but he was actually angry – how was he after filming that scene?
I thought Karl was a revelation actually. He is totally natural. He shook after every take, with real anger. I don't think he realises that the truth he was finding every time is what we are all after.

Ashley as Shelley in Episode 3
Did Karl feel bad and apologise? Did he have to cool down?
He was lovely! He didn't need to apologise! We are all pretending, nobody takes offence. But I think he did need a minute after the last take to settle down!

Have you ever been called Mr. Fucking T before, or was that a first?
I've been called many things, but Mr Fucking T is a new one. I think it actually trended on Twitter for a while! We all exploded with laughter after he said that. Ricky looked like he might burst.

Dougie bites her head off
Ashley and Shelley – please tell us they are nothing alike?!
Well, she borrowed my face and voice. But apart from that, no! I nursed my mother in a hospice when she was dying, rarely leaving her side. There was a woman in the bed opposite her who had this one visitor who was an absolute cow. Just talking about how lovely her life was outside, her Yorkshire Terriers etc, whilst her aunt was dying. I based Shelley on her.

What was it like working with such a fantastic collection of British comedy and acting talent?
Ricky is an absolute hero of mine. It was a total privilege.I think he's a fucking genius. I've never wanted a job more than this one. Plus the brilliant Charlie Hanson produced it, his CV is immense. The whole cast are amazing. Kerry and I were at drama school together, she was in the year below,so we had great fun filming our tear-up. I fell a bit in love with Brett and David. Actually the atmosphere on the set was the nicest I have ever come across.

You've appeared in a huge array of TV, film, radio and stage productions, what has been the highlight of your career to date?
That's too hard to answer! I loved Derek. Had a blast on Dead Boss - working with Jennifer Saunders and Sharon Horgan, dancing with Caroline Quentin. Loved filming 'Gittins' with Brett, David and Charlie (they gave me the romantic lead!), and had such fun filming my trolley dash for 'Trollied'. I also have worked with a brilliant theatre company called Clean Break. They work with women in prison, and ones just released. They are an amazing company, doing such important work.

What’s next in the pipeline – what can we hope to see you in?
At the moment I am shooting a feature film called 'Gold'in Ireland. Playing an absolute sweetheart, for a change! Later in the year I am hoping to be involved in a new project written by the joyful and brilliant Josephine Enright. Plus I will be appearing in the new ITV sitcom The Job Lot this year, starring Russell Tovey and Sarah Hadland.

If you could play any role in any bygone film or TV show, what would it have been?
I could be here all night! Off the top of my head I would say The Sculptress. That was a brilliantly written drama back in the day. Or Misery.

Who is your on-screen hero?
Victoria Wood. No question.

Thank you Ashley for taking the time out your busy day on the back of starring in such a wonderful episode of Derek. It’s been great watching you, great speaking to you and I wish you all the luck in the future.

Follow Ashley on twitter @AshleyMcGuire_

© M. A. Sibson
Twitter: @tadpole_hitler

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