Seána Kerslake: On My Culture Radar
The actor on her love of Gena Rowlands, FaceGym and why she’s impressed by Summer 1993
“Shirley Hughes has been around for years, and her children’s book illustrations are so romantic and beautiful,” says actor Seána Kerslake. “They’re like Monet for children’s books – I’ve even had them framed.”
Current favourite book?
Usually when I’m working, reading goes out the window unless it’s character preparation, but recently I was reading a book called Christodora by Tim Murphy, which came out in 2016. It’s based in a building in Manhattan called the Christodora, and every chapter is about a different character. It’s about them trying to figure out their path in life during the Aids epidemic. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s all-consuming; when you read it, you’re in that world.
I love Vermillion, an Indian restaurant in Terenure, Dublin. I go there with my family on special occasions. I’m veggie, and they have an unreal saag, the best saag around. It tastes fresh, you get the flavour of spices, and the service is brilliant too.
I saw a two-part play called The Inheritance on in London recently. It’s three hours each side, so you go on two separate nights. It was like the writing of a novel within the play, and the actors were the writers. That too is about the Aids crisis, and set in New York. Sometimes you end up in these similar worlds. It’s not my favourite play, but there were interesting performances and ideas within it. And I have tickets booked for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child next year – I booked it about two months ago, and it’s for next June. It was the same with Hamilton – I’ve seen it twice and I had to book those tickets a year in advance too.
Shirley Hughes has been around for years, and her children’s book illustrations are so romantic and beautiful. They’re like Monet for children’s books – I’ve even had them framed. I wasn’t into art for years, but I’m getting more into the world as I use it to visualise things, character-wise.
My favourite actor is Gena Rowlands. She blows my mind when I watch her on screen. If you watch one scene of her performance in A Woman Under the Influence or Opening Night, you’ll see she’s so honest and open. She’s not afraid of being vulnerable and imperfect. She and her husband, John Cassavetes, made loads of movies together, and they put a lot of their own money to make the projects they wanted to make. So she had the space to be raw, honest, emotional free and fun.
I like listen to The Blindboy Podcast. He gets so many people talking about different topics, from mental health to politics to history, and he’s got a unique voice. I love his accent, especially when I’m in London. I think he’s gas.
I’m looking to buy the FaceGym, but it’s around €450. It looks like one of those rollerballs, but it sends electrical currents into your face, and exercises your facial muscles to take the fluid out and keep the elasticity in your face. It sounds mad, but you’re going to go and Google it and see why I’m interested. A FaceGym session at a beautician’s is around €70 a go, so owning the machine is the same as having six sessions. But it is pricey. You need to get all your family and friends who are going to buy you a Christmas present to group together and donate towards it.
I just finished Maniac on Netflix, which stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. I like it because it’s a little sci-fi, a bit Black Mirror-y. The actors play multiple characters within the series, similar to American Horror Story, and I think that’s exciting to watch.
When I switch off at the end of the day, I watch Arrested Development. I’d never heard of it until recently, and now I’m hooked. It’s bonkers and bizarre, and you have to suspend reality.
I recently saw Summer 1993, about this little girl who goes to live with her aunt and uncle after her parents die of Aids – another project about Aids. She’s obviously dealing with a lot of things, and doesn’t know how to process it. It’s so heart-breaking. Everything from costume to set design to the camera work is gorgeous, but the children’s performances are mind-blowing. I don’t know how the director got those performances, because it’s a difficult balance to direct them while letting them be so free in front of the camera.
Seána Kerslake appears with Stephen Jones in Northern Lights, which runs until December 15th at the Theatre Upstairs, Dublin. Visit theatreupstairs.ie for tickets.