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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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The Silence: Dervla Kirwan (Maggie)

"When I met our director Dearbhla Walsh, she clearly had a very precise idea of who Maggie was: incredibly warm, spontaneous, effervescent, the life force of the family and chaos to Jim's order. Even the way she's dressed is quirky – a bit of a rock chick!

"Maggie is the life force of her family, very likeable because of her generosity. She accidentally sets the ball rolling in the story, as it is she who invites Amelia to come and stay with them whilst she is having her post-operative speech therapy.

"The Silence is not just a drama about a murder, it is about the impact of what that can do to your family and how your family can fall apart.

"Jim's [Douglas Henshall] very good at his job and Maggie brings up the children quite a lot on her own. We have three grown-up kids and Maggie would like him not to take on so much work so they can get on with their life together – but it doesn't work out that way.

"This is explored very well, with nuances found, and Dearbhla Walsh was very good at eliciting that. It was quite a challenge on paper as Fiona Seres's script looks deceptively simple – but with everything that goes on underneath is so very exciting. Dearbhla sets the bar high and it's a great cast.

"It's a great joy working with Gina McKee again – we played sisters before in the play Aristocrats – and now we are playing sisters-in-law! Then Douglas [Henshall] is so good you just want to match that! And Hugh [Bonneville] I admire and respect.

"Genevieve Barr is very exciting to act with – she's not a deaf actress, she's an actress. Maggie doesn't treat her as a deaf person, which was very helpful to play. Genevieve is such a force of nature: so intelligent with natural vulnerability and strength, so great to be around her.

"And the family dynamics came naturally because Harry Ferrier [Tom], Rebecca Oldfield [Sophie] and Tom Kane [Joel] are so good at improvising it all just gelled together and felt very real.

"For Maggie it is a constant juggle with family and career, which I know lots about: spreading ourselves thinly but very fulfilling. Maggie's much more chaotic than me. I'm very, very organised. Maggie is the parent of teenage children and I am the parent of small children, only six and four. I'm already in a terrible sweat about them becoming teenagers – I dreamt I was looking up at mine and they were not listening to a word I was saying!

"Maggie's children are struggling for their identity through the series. They do not have a great relationship with their father, as he's not been around enough, and he's just not one of those demonstrative types – not every man is capable of that. They have Maggie to articulate everything.

"That what's been great about getting a part like this, she has real warmth and depth. Maggie is an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances, that's the drama, that's what's been challenging."

Dervla Kirwan made her name in TV series such as Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart. Most recently she starred in the series Material Girl.

Her recent films include Ondine and her recent theatre work includes the Donmar's production of Betrayal.

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