We first fell for Brit actress Kierston Wareing in 2007 film It’s A Free World, and we weren’t the only ones to notice Leigh-on-Sea’s finest - she scored two British Independent Film Award nominations. But it was her role as a single mother on a Essex council estate in acclaimed 2009 indie flick Fish Tank that got everyone talking and resulted in yet more industry plaudits – this time a BAFTA nomination. Plus, she featured in InStyle’s Brit Pack actor’s portfolio last year. We know talent when we see it!
Despite her frantic schedule - when she called it was in a break from filming Top Boy with So Solid Crew’s rapper-turned-actor Ashley Walters - Kierston found the time to chat to us about current Sky 1 drama The Runaway and her other projects.
You've been involved in so many great projects - but didn't you nearly give up acting at one point?
I was going to give up and was even training as a legal secretary. I also owned a tanning salon. But then I went for one last audition [for Ken Loach's It's a Free World]. I was still convinced that I was giving it up though! Then on the day I found out I'd got down to the last two I got a tube home that I never normally get and Ken got on and sat opposite me. Looking back I felt it was fated that I took that tube… and I got the part.
How did you find working on your first feature film with a legendary director like Ken?
He is a genius. I will never forget Ken, he’s changed my life around. I wouldn’t have been suited working as a legal secretary!
What about starring alongside Michael Fassbender in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank – he’s not exactly ugly is he?
Michael is a charming, nice, normal bloke. He and Katie Jarvis [who played her daughter, Mia] were an absolute pleasure to work with. It was a very happy family on set, not like you saw in the film!
I read that Michael said you remind him of Brigitte Bardot…
She is a real style icon for me. Number one is Marilyn Monroe, number two is Brigitte. When Michael said that – well, any girl would be flattered! They’ve all got very different looks, but I also admire the style of Cheryl Cole, Kate Moss and Rihanna. I think Rihanna is very cool and individual. For high end fashion, it’s got to be Chanel and for high street, I love Topshop.
You seem to veer towards quite dark roles – is that on purpose?
I prefer the dark, gritty stuff. I find that quite easy actually! But I’m playing a quiet, intelligent detective in The Shadow Line [forthcoming BBC Two drama] and a farmer in The Holding [a big screen thriller out in June]. I had to neutralize my Essex accent for both roles. I’m single mother in The Shadow Line, but I am a great single mother this time, unlike in Fish Tank - I don’t drink or smoke!
Who would you love to work with?
In a dream world, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Matt Damon. If I could work with any director it would be Steven Spielberg. Yes, in a dream world, Spielberg, call me back! I also think that the way Mike Leigh works sounds really interesting.
Could you ever be tempted Stateside?
I’ve got an agent out there. If something happens, it happens. That’s the attitude I take.
Kierston’s currently starring in The Runaway on Sky 1 (Thursday 9pm). And you can also catch her in The Shadow Line in May on BBC Two and The Holding, in cinemas in June.
By Pandora Sykes