The shape I’m in: Cathy Belton, actress

CATHY Belton is having a ball playing Patricia Hennessy in new TV3 soap Red Rock.

Set in a fictional harbour town, the show centres around a busy Garda station and Hennessy is one of the chief villains. Cathy says it’s “lovely to be in at the start of something” and she finds her character a great one to play.

“There’s plenty of drama with her. You never know what she’s going to do next from one script to another. The reaction to her has been wonderful — people love to hate her.”

The veteran actor, who hails from the West of Ireland, hopes she doesn’t share any traits with the scheming Red Rock character.

“I hope not, though she’d do anything for her family — and family, friends and loyalty would be very big for me. And, of course, I would love her wardrobe.”

She played another unlikeable character in the 2013 hit film Philomena with the role of Sr Claire, the severe young nun who took Philomena’s child from her.

“She was such a controversial character. I have my own opinions about what the nuns did in the Magdalene laundries. I had to drop all that. I couldn’t judge her — I just had to play her.”

She found working with Judi Dench and Steve Coogan an “absolute privilege”. The film had a string of Oscar nominations and Cathy recalls getting 10 missed calls on the night of the Oscars.

“We were about to open with Wonderful Tennessee and I was in a completely other space. I knew Philomena was up [for awards] and I was thrilled. But I had to go to bed early that night so I wasn’t watching it live. The calls and texts were to say they were showing a clip of me and Judi Dench at the Oscars! ”

Cathy, who’s in a relationship, loves to travel. “As an actor, it’s really important to absorb as much as possible and to bring it back. At the moment, I’m filming with Red Rock but towards the end of the year I might take off to the South of France.”

* Red Rock airs every Wednesday and Thursday at 8.30pm on TV3.

What shape are you in?

I’m okay because I’m filming— you have to keep in shape physically as much as mentally because they both feed off each other. It’s important mostly for energy levels. I try to exercise most days. I do yoga twice a week and I run every second day. A good walk in the mountains is as good as a run.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I wouldn’t be a big red meat eater. I never miss breakfast, though I have to be on set at 6.45am. I love my porridge with plenty of fruit, nuts, soya milk and honey. I like vegetables, fish, chicken — nothing too extreme.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

A good Rioja and a couple of squares of chilli chocolate.

What would keep you awake at night?

I mightn’t sleep very well if I had a very early call or I could be running through scenes or lines in my head. I do love my bed — I’m an eight hours sleeper.

How do you relax?

Yoga is really helpful. I find it wonderful — you can do it anywhere, even in the dressing room. I love the fresh air —walking in the mountains or by the sea on a Sunday. I love going to the cinema and meeting friends.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I’d love to have Philip Seymour Hoffman — he’s such a great loss to the world, a very bright, intelligent man. I’m a huge fan of Meryl Streep — I’d invite her because I want to know how she does it.

I’d love to bring JFK back and have a chat with him. And, to throw the cat among the pigeons, I’d invite Billy Connolly.

What’s your favourite smell?

Freshly cut grass.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’d love to have better hair. I have very fine hair — I’d love a thick mane of hair.

When did you last cry?

At Marty Rea’s performance in The Caretaker at The Gate. It was during the monologue in the second half about having electric shock treatment.

What trait do you least like in others?

Lies.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I’m a worrier. I wish I could worry less about stuff. It’s a terrible waste of time.

Do you pray?

I do. I wouldn’t say I’d be a fully paid-up member of the Catholic Church but I do believe in a higher power, a spirituality. I would pray to that.

What would cheer up your day?

The weather — getting some sun. I cycle a lot. When the sun is shining, it cheers up my day. I can leave the leggings and raincoat at home.


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