Sunday, August 25, 2013

Brenda Blethyn may have gone blonde but Vera won't change


By: Pam FrancisPublished: Sun, August 25, 2013

IT takes a certain kind of actress to play a character like ITV's female cop Vera Stanhope.

One who doesn't mind wearing layers of shapeless "bag lady" clothes and a hair-flattening scarecrow hat.

"Usually when you see a female detective, she's a bit of a pin-up," says Brenda Blethyn.

"But Vera's no sex symbol, which I find very refreshing. Just because she's scruffy doesn't mean she doesn't command total respect from her team.

"There should be a 'Vera' fashion line, shouldn't there?" she jokes.

"Vera's style tips... I can see it now. Or maybe she could turn up in the Christmas special of Downton Abbey in Victorian costume with her Vera hat on."

Cue more laughter from the 67-year-old actress who, it has to be noted, is looking very un-Vera-like when we meet over tea in London.

In fact, she is sporting a rather glam blonde hairdo and a smart black trouser suit: "I often go for suits. I'm not a frilly person but I do like to be nicely turned out, as my mother would say."

Brenda has no children of her own ("I had no strong need and it's just the way it worked out") but has played mum to some of Hollywood's finest - Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through it, Jane Horrocks in Little Voice and Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice, one of her favourite roles.

These days Brenda Blethyn OBE is such a national institution that it's easy to forget she was a late starter, quitting her job as a British Rail clerk at the age of 27 to go to drama school.

Huge success followed in theatre, but it was at 50 that she found fame, with her third film - Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies - winning her nine awards, an Oscar nomination and a guaranteed, glittering career for life.

Doesn't she ever get to the point where she wants to put her feet up?

"If I did, after a month I'd probably think, 'Well that was nice - I needed that. What now?'"


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