She's got some bottle
So things proved. Ruth fairly rapidly scored supporting roles on TV. In 2006, she had a small part in the American war film Flyboys. In the current decade, she has taken regular roles in three series: ITV’s science-fiction romp Primeval, the hit RTÉ thriller Love/Hate and the historical drama Titanic. She has recently returned from the United States where she signed a contract with ABC television. Most actors admit to insecurity about their professional position, but Ruth does seem to have found herself in a reasonably secure position.
“There are still challenges,” she says. “ I don’t want always to play the Irish character. Now, I want to do something different. I don’t think I have, in this business, ever sat back and thought: I am comfortable.”
Do people recognise her? Once you are on the telly people seem to think that you are their friend. Ruth isn’t exactly a star. But she has appeared in viewers’ living rooms on a fairly regular basis.
“It is interesting,” she says. “People do feel able to approach people from the TV more easily than film actors. TV actors are actually in their homes. You have to go out and pay to see a film actor. People sometimes think they know me, but usually they think it’s from seeing me in the shop down the road.”
On paper, Grabbers sounds like an unlikely project. Shot on a modest budget, the picture casts Ruth as a Dublin-based Garda who, after relocating to the west of Ireland, finds herself gently at odds with her new partner. Played dryly by Richard Coyle, he turns out to be a boozy (but decent) layabout with unresolved personal issues. Ruth’s character is uptight, fastidious and polished. As she arrives, strange, violent doings are afoot. Man-eating sea creatures are soon everywhere about.
“I got the script, read it and thought: this is a romantic comedy,” she says. “I really didn’t notice the creatures. It’s about two people. I thought it was very good, but I knew it could go ether way. I didn’t want it to be stage Irish. But it turned out the director knew his stuff. He had his head screwed on.”
The producers have done a good job of rolling out the movie. It played at the Sundance Film Festival, still the key spot for independently minded cinema, before moving on to the Edinburgh Film Festival in June. The picture picked up strong reviews at both events. Sundance must have been a particularly delightful experience. A great many celebrities touch down on that one, very small patch of Utah soil.
“It’s weird because it’s so normal,” Bradley says. “It’s all in one street. It’s like a country town in the west of Ireland. But John Hawkes and Paul Giamatti are walking down the street. Everybody is so normal. There’s no fuss. And the quality of films is always really good.”
And the Americans got it? Much of the humour is very Irish. The accents are very thick. “It’s funny, they loved it. But they laughed at completely different points,” she says. “They laughed at things we never thought were funny. So much of it is dry. But they got it.” It was worth the hangover.
* Grabbers opens today