Interview with Claire Cage
In your role in the episode ‘Sleeper’ as David’s wife, there’s a scene just before David leaves the room to do his dastardly work!!! He returns and snaps the neck of his wife. I’ve often wondered when you see clips of people who have to assume the position of having their neck snapped, that timing is everything. How much practice did you have to have to make that scene ‘believable’ and also not to render you with a very sore neck?
Claire: I had a stunt guy who helped me with the twist so it looked believable. We ran through it a handful of times. He was great and I didn’t get a sore neck at all. It’s all about turning quickly at the right moment.
You were in The Story of Tracy Beaker as a character called Selima in The Long Goodbye (2002), what was her role in the story? I have watched all of the episodes since the programme started, but I’m trying to remember that character.
Claire: She was the biker who was the girlfriend of the gardener. (As I recall.) She clicked with the young girl who wore a bandana and who was a bit of rebel. I think the plan was that Selima would adopt her but that story never played out.
You’re in High Tide, a film by Long Arm Films, can you tell us more about your role in the film? After doing a wee bit of research on the film itself, there appears to be another of the same title made in 1987, an Australian film, is this film you’re in, a remake of that? When will High Tide be out in cinemas, or is it straight to DVD?
Claire: High tide is a film about a Mother and her son and their relationship. My character, Tess is a fun loving neighbour who hosts a party. It was tremendous fun to film. I think the producers will release it to film festivals perhaps and see what happens. I’m not sure TBH but they have a twitter account and often post news on there.
You were in the drama Baker Boys (2011), I was looking through IMDB at the cast list, there are many people from Torchwood who were also in this programme – and another series I’ve yet to watch or hope that Netflix has it one day! You were only in 1 episode playing a character named Gina, what was her story?
Claire: She was a rather officious call centre manager who comes to the unemployed bakery workers and tried to train them up for a call centre job. It doesn’t go down well but it was brilliant fun to shoot. Boyd Clack was the actor I had most to do with in the scene. (There’s a teeny clip from it on my showreel on my website.)
Having appeared in regular dramas, from Natalie Fletcher/Meg Collins in Casualty, Patsy in Being Human, Julia Hawke in Wizards Vs Aliens, are these roles you enjoy playing over one off characters, or do you like the variety of different roles?
Claire: As a jobbing actor I love the challenge of any new role, big or small. It’s nice to get parts that allow you to really get your teeth into the character though so a regular role is great for that. I love theatre for that as you get to work on finding the character over a period of a few weeks. Very rewarding.
You play Sarah in Happy Hours, a film that you completed in 2013 (according to IMDB), who was Sarah in the story, what was her background, and can you tell us more about the film itself, (I don’t often trust IMDB to get things right).
Claire: Sarah was an old friend of the main protagonist. She fell out with the main character as a teenager when they fought about a song that they’ve written. Years later they meet again and as a way of the lead moving on with her life, Sarah and her revisit a performance of the song – with accompanying dance routine and rap!!! (I can’t rap for toffee so it’s very cringeworthy. It’s meant to be.)
When you’re not acting how do you fill the days, what other passions do you have?
Claire: I enjoy photography. Keeping fit. I also have two sons so they fill most of my time!
Like many actors these days adding more strings to their bow, do you also write scripts, screenplays, involved in behind the scenes as much as in front of them, and if you have, can you tell us anything about them?
Claire: I used to have a writing partner – a very funny actor called Duncan Bett and we wrote a series of plays based in houses in and around Cardiff called “The world of Fraser Sefton”. But he was more the writer then I’d edit. I have loads of ideas for short films and I’d love to do a one woman show but as yet I haven’t had the time to write them.
How did you get into acting and who inspired you?
Claire: I’ve always wanted to be an actor – ever since I was chosen to be Mary in the school nativity when I was 6. It’s just in me. I thought at one point I’d be a teacher or a policewoman but came back to acting in my teens. My drama teacher at Comprehensive school inspired me a lot. Mrs Gallagher. Sadly passed away now I believe. My favourite actors are Dustin Hoffman, Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench. The list goes on and on.
What was the last book you read?
Claire: I did a degree in Eng Lit and Drama so for a few years after I didn’t read cos I’d had to read SO many books for my course. I love books and wish I read more. I read a lot of camera books – specifically about lighting. My last book? It may have been the Hunger Games Trilogy. I know they are for teens but I LOVED them.
What has been the most challenging of roles to play in your career so far?
Claire: Probably the part of Pauline in “A kind of Alaska” on stage in 2010.
Although IMDB doesn’t list it, have you ever performed on stage, in theatre?
Claire: Yes – I started off in theatre. Check my website www.clairecage.co.uk and go to the theatre credits. I love theatre. I did a fantastic project earlier this year on Dementia. Raising awareness about the condition and the problems facing carers, family members, the sufferers themselves. I have a theatre company called BE:Spoken Theatre with whom I did the Pinter. We have lots of projects in the pipeline.
When you’re playing a character in a regular drama, do you ever actually watch the drama afterwards, and not just to watch yourself in action, but for example, a current show such as Casualty or Wizards Vs Aliens, or Baker Boys or even the Sparticle Mystery, do you ever follow the show as an avid fan?
Claire: It’s a strange experience watching oneself on screen. I think most actors would agree that we are very critical of ourselves. Always wanting to go back and do it differently. I watch my own work most of the time as a way of evaluating what I did and using it as a learning tool. I used to watch Casualty so I knew what my on screen husband’s storyline was, for when they called me in again to do an episode. I have loads of shows I watch but I’m not necessarily in them. I LOVE Orange is the new Black ATM.
What role would you really love to get your teeth into if you were to ever have the opportunity?
Claire: That’s a tricky question. I’d love to do a hard hitting drama. There are some fantastic series being made in this country right now. Happy Valley was extraordinary I thought. Something like that would be great.
You have acted alongside some really fantastic people, but who would be the person you would love to act alongside, someone you haven’t as yet, worked with?
Claire: Easy – Judi Dench or Cate Blanchett.
Claire: I love all sorts. Though I am very easily scared and though I’ve been in Horror film/TV shows, I can’t watch them! My husband loves them and I can never join in. I love quirky character based films. Frances Ha I thought was brilliant. Amelie. Melancholia. Films where the characters are real and not too airbrushed and “Hollywood”. Having said that I loved Bridesmaids. A really good feel good comedy will do it for me too.
Acting is a tough industry, and it’s not for everyone, what advice would you give to people who were contemplating a career as an actor?
Claire: Only do it if it’s the only thing you want to do as it is a tough and competitive game. Be committed. Work hard. Develop a thick skin like a rhino but keep a soft middle! Follow your own path – there isn’t just one way to make it. Enjoy each part as if it’s your last. And get a second string to your bow which will pay your bills and is flexible.
Although it’s not listed on IMDB, have you ever been involved in Doctor Who, and if not, would you love to be involved in another sci fi drama, and as a bit of fun, what sort of character would you like to portray?
Claire: Yes I have. I played Cassandra on set with Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper. I read the lines for them to act with for about 5 brilliant days. I got to play with the Face of Boe) too! I knew they would use Zoe Wanamaker’s voice but I was stood just off camera giving them something to work opposite. I’ve also done a couple of the loop groups – the back ground voices for some eps.
If you were to meet your 12 year old self, what would you say to her?
Claire: Go to drama school when you leave school. And everyone is beautiful in their own way.