“If you watch people who are crying they are all the time trying to stop themselves from crying. I have to go to a very dark place to bring an honest emotion to it,” she says.
“I’d have to get myself upset and then apply it to the scene. You do have to put your finger where it hurts. I only have to think of my grandma and my granddad and I’m bawling.”
Taking a break from the intense storylines of RTÉ’s long-running soap, she is in rehearsals for the stage show Elvis Is My Daddy.
And, contrary to her expectations, it turns out she can sing and dance after all.
“It’s a great thing to find out at 40,” she says.
"I would have always loved to have been Annie as a kid. So I’m doing it now. It’s never too late.”
Last year, she downsized and moved from Dunboyne to Dublin city with her daughter Clarabelle, who is 17 and a member of Dublin Youth Theatre.
“She’s very good,” says her proud mum.
“She is completely different to me. She is so calm and confident and relaxed.”
She refuses to take any credit for her well-adjusted daughter.
“I think she’s a credit to herself. I had great help from my mum and my grandparents and my sister and her godfathers — a gay couple.
“They have her spoilt rotten but they are also great cornerstones. I chose well.”
* Elvis Is My Daddy, Everyman, Cork May 3 to 7 and Olympia Theatre, Dublin from May 11 to 21
I work out quite a lot. If I’m not in RTÉ I would aim to go to the gym every day, or even a 20-minute run. It’s good for the mind and body. If I don’t do something physically I would definitely feel it emotionally.
I don’t eat meat. But I do eat fish. I’d have a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. I’d put on weight if I didn’t eat regularly. I’ve always had a delicate stomach. I can’t eat wheat — I get lethargic.
I love a glass of pinot grigio and the odd packet of King crisps. I don’t have a sweet tooth.
Sleep is really important. My trick is that I listen to an audio book — such as a murder mystery by Agatha Christie — and it just knocks me out.
When I did my masters degree in screenwriting I don’t think I slept through 2006 and 2007.
The gym helps me relax; or walking the dogs, Gizmo and Charlie — they are both shih tzus.
My close friends. I have the same friends for a long time and they know who they are. They mean everything to me.
I’m very honoured that they would consider me as a friend. I think I’m doing OK by virtue of the fact that these good people are my good friends.
I love the smell of cut grass. And magnolia. There’s a magnolia bush in RTÉ and every now and then when you pass by it draws you in.
When you do get a whiff of it you feel like you’ve won the Lotto. And the smell of my grandmother’s handbag.
It’s our duty to make the best of ourselves. This was the way I was meant to look, the way I was made and I’m grateful for that.
If there’s anything I want to change there is nothing I can’t change in the gym.
To be honest, I’d love to change everything but at the moment I’m grateful.
I was in Dingle recently for the film festival. I cried at a Film Bord short called How Was Your Day by Damien O’Donnell. [It tells the story of a woman who is approaching the birth of her first child.]
Other than that, I’m not a real crier.
I can’t stand a liar. You don’t know where you stand. Also, I can’t stand hypocrisy. And someone who is judgemental.
I can be lazy. I am very conscious of it. I allow myself the odd lounge but it’s only when everything is done.
I totally indulged last week by watching How To Get Away with Murder on Netflix. I haven’t watched anything like that back to back for ages.
I do. I like to give thanks.
Seeing Clarabelle happy.