The Interview: Ruth Bradley on acting, leaving Dublin and accents
Although her screen time in 'The Informer' is pivotal to the arc of the story, the movie itself was shot over two years ago - but one thing remains present in Ruth Bradley's mind, and that's how to do a Brooklyn accent.
Her character, a New York police detective who's partnered with rapper-turned-actor Common, is a far cry from 'Love/Hate' and 'Love Is The Drug', the RTÉ shows that began her career. For all of this, dropping into a thick New York drawl is as easy as her Dublin accent. "That's the thing with accents, the more specific you can get it, the better. We were filming in Brooklyn, so I got to be there and just eavesdrop on conversations," Ruth explains.
"When I was in London, I was thinking, 'Have I gone too far with this?' Yet, when I got to Brooklyn... this is a real accent! It feels so film-like! It's such a brilliant accent, and it's so much part of the personality of the people. With any accent, it informs the way people, the way they conduct, and the whole Brooklyn accent is a whole attitude."
"It's probably the same with the Dublin accent, it's hard to tell when you're from here," she laughs. Although it's been some time since she's lived in Dublin - she left for London when she was 18 after doing three weeks of Germanic languages in Trinity - it's never far from her mind.
"I'd already been acting as a kid in Dublin, and I went to Trinity for literally three weeks, and then I was like, 'Who's life am I living here?' So about a week after I dropped out, I left for London because I thought if I'm not doing that, I need to really, really 100% on making a career for myself and so many people were moving to London that I thought, I'd better move before I'm settled here."
"Right now, I can't see myself coming back to Dublin because I've got a nice little life set up there, but Dublin has changed so much since I left and now I'm back working here. I keep walking out in front of the Luas!"
Tangling with public transport aside, Ruth's acting career has been on the up and up since her early days on RTÉ's 'The Clinic'. She had a recurring role in the third season of BBC's 'Humans' and in the ensemble cast of 'The Fall', starring opposite the likes of Aisling Bea, Gillian Anderson, and Jamie Dornan. More recently, she played Agatha Christie in 'Agatha and the Truth of Murder'.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that acting is in her wiring as her mother is Charlotte Bradley, a veteran of 'Fair City', 'Ros na Rún' and is soon to appear in 'Darklands', Virgin Media One's new crime drama by Mark O'Connor, the director behind 'Cardboard Gangsters'. While her mother didn't necessarily try to warn her off the industry, in Charlotte's own words, "she never encouraged it."
"She was always like, if this is really what you want to do, then go for it, but be clear in the knowledge that it's not secure and you don't have any nine to five, and there's no definites about anything. But she warned me, yeah, totally but kids don't listen to their parents about what they wanna do," she laughs. "But, on the same hand, she was very supportive when I said this was what I'm doing."
Currently, she's rehearsing a play in the Abbey Theatre by Lisa Tierney-Keogh, titled 'This Beautiful Village', starring opposite Pom Boyd and Michael Ford-FitzGerald. When we speak to Ruth, it's the day of the preview for the show. "It's a two-way straight, you've got your audience right there and how they respond is so effective. It's an interesting play, it's set now, it's very modern, and there's loads of issues that affect our daily lives so hopefully, it'll hit something with the audience."
When it comes to doing screen work and theatre work for Ruth, the response is immediate - but rewarding in different ways from screen work. "It's really luxurious in theatre, you get to rehearse for weeks, it's collaborative in a way that screen isn't because so much of your work is done on your own, it's much more of a solitary job and you go to set with your work done, essentially."
"Your performance is just the writer, the director and what you do on stage. In screen, you do your job and then you leave for a year, and then the editor comes in and so much is dependent on that, and what the director's vision of it is which obviously you can't see through their eyes. Theatre, you definitely feel like you have more of a handle on what the audience sees," she says.
With screen work, according to Ruth, there's a sense that it involves much less from her. "Your job is done the day you wrap, and you just hand it over and do with that what you will."
"You come back in and do ADR a year later and you see it, but there's also something brilliant about that. You come in, and it's all, 'Oh, that's not how I thought it was going to be like,' that's not necessarily a bad thing - it's a totally different take on it... You can't be, all, 'Oh God, what about that one?!' You have to let go."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
'The Informer' is currently in Irish cinemas