Looking glamorously thin in a black mini-dress, it’s impossible to tell there’s a baby on the way. And when she tells me she is now five-and-a-half months pregnant, I find that extremely hard to credit.
“It’s hiding,” she says, laughing. “We managed to keep it under wraps for five months. I was living like a spy.”
She has felt wonderful throughout. Which is just as well considering the summer she’s had. In June Amy finished filming the second TV series of the comedy ‘Threesome’, in which she plays the leading role, Alice.
“That was a really intense shoot because there were only three of us in the cast,” she says. “I’d already missed two publishing dates for my second novel, so I then decided I had to go for it. But I don’t think I’ve ever done as many auditions as I did during that time.
“Those two-and-a-half months were manic. I’d write all day, learn lines at night, and put some stuff on tape. I’ve never worked so hard. Poor Brian was helping me learn my lines, and then I kept going off to write.
“I was racing to the end of the book, then doing edits, and I was driving my publishers mad, saying, ‘I have to go to London for an audition.’ They were like, ‘okay,’ but these were gold dust days because of my deadlines.
“In that frame of mind you can do amazing work. And the minute I sent the manuscript in, at 4pm on a Friday, I started manically cleaning the house. It took a while to unwind and breathe.”
The book finished, Amy shot a comedy series for the BBC with Sue Perkins, then it was back to Ireland to shoot an episode of Moone Boy. And next month shooting starts for Stag — a comedy movie starring Andrew Scott.
“There’s a great cast. Hugh O’Conor is in it too. And it’s being shot in Ireland. It will be nice to come home to my own house!” There’s just one problem:
“My bump can’t show, and I’ll be seven months pregnant when filming finishes.”
Her book, I Wish for You, is about Grace. She’s approaching her 30th birthday and expectations — for marriage — are high. Everyone else’s expectations, that is. But when her lovely live-in boyfriend proposes, she freaks. The book follows this female commitment phobe, as she tries to work out what it is, exactly, that she wants.
“I wanted Grace to be strong; I hate reading about women victims,” says Amy. “And it annoys me that women are tainted with this, ‘we just want to get married and have kids’.”
But it is hard for thirty-somethings, isn’t it? “Yes, it is. Women are under pressure whether it’s their own or social norms, but you have to hold true. It was brave of Grace to walk away from a good relationship when people feel she should be settling down; to feel fear, but walk anyway.”
There are many themes in this laugh aloud book.
“To give colour and background, there’s fashion. There’s old Hollywood. But the main theme is that we think other people’s lives are glossy and perfect, and life is easy for everyone, but you take that apart and realise it’s not. Everyone’s path is different, and you have to follow your own.”
The book features a ‘Wish factory.’ What is Amy’s great wish?
“It’s so transitory. In February, when I went to Los Angeles I wished that I got that part in the American sitcom. And I did.”
She filmed the pilot, but was then dropped from the series. That huge setback eased somewhat, when the whole series was then dropped.
“I’m glad, now, that things went the way they did. My main wish is to be happy in whatever form that takes. I want my family to be well and happy, and I want to be challenged in work, and to keep getting opportunities.”
Surely something will have to give when the baby arrives.
“It’s hard to look into a crystal ball. I’ve never done this before. I’ll just take it as it comes.”
I last met Amy three years ago, on the publication of her first novel. She and her rugby star husband, Brian O’Driscoll were newly engaged. Back then, she was best known as the ditzy receptionist Daisy in the RTE series, The Clinic. Her career has blossomed since.
Her numerous film roles include a leading role in Three Wise Women, and Eileen with Martin Sheen in Stella Days. But her most chilling role to date must surely be her IFTA winning performance in Rewind, where she plays a recovering drug addict mum, whose past catches up with her. Was that her biggest challenge to date?
“It was certainly different! It was shot in 19 days in Wicklow, in January. It was freezing! If you’re a good actor, you play drama on your instinct. Comedy is harder to get right. It either works or doesn’t. You can get egg on your face. So Threesome terrified me most. I hadn’t a notion what I was doing, and left the pilot more confused than when I started it. But it’s my dream part.”
It annoys Amy when people tell her she’s lucky.
“Someone said to me recently that luck is opportunity and preparation coming together, and I think that’s true. My success has been on the back of hard graft. Working outside Ireland was my game plan, and I put my head down and did it. I worked really hard. I sacrificed free time, and missed out on a lot of things. My life might look fluffy, but it’s a hard slog.”
Many actors complain that parts are hard to come by because Ireland is so small.
“That’s true, but there’s a flip side. In a small industry people get to know you. And if you are known, people make take a chance on you to do other things because they want you involved. If there’s a bigger pool to choose from, its. ‘we’ll get a comedy actress for this,’ or ‘a dramatic actress for that.’”
Brian and Amy have been described as the Posh and Becks of Ireland. They certainly look the part, but Amy swears the glitz is only done for work.
“Life is exciting, but you learn to live as a nomad. You are not master of your time. I do get downtime with Brian, but I always feel the guilt when I’m away. He’s great. He says, ‘just enjoy yourself’.”
The couple were invited to the Royal Wedding last year. Brian had Rugby commitments, but he persuaded Amy to go alone. She was a great ambassador for Ireland in her pink lace Louise Kennedy dress.
“William and Kate’s wedding was surreal,” she says. “There were 1,900 people in Westminster Abbey. It was more like a concert than a wedding. But it was a great occasion, and wonderful just to be there.”
* I Wished for You is published by Penguin Ireland at €14.99. Kindle: €9.50.