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Caroline Catz: 'Juggling work and family life is difficult'
Published: 06:08, Sun, February 15, 2015
By SIMON BUTTON
“But that’s what’s brilliant about this job,” she beams. “You get to dip into other people’s lives, doing other things, researching, finding things out, and it becomes all-consuming as you try to immerse yourself into the mind-set of another person. That’s really brilliant. You almost get the best of both worlds.”
Like so many chameleon-like actors, it’s easy to be taken aback at how different she is in reality from the characters she plays. From tough-talking Helen Morton in DCI Banks to feisty Louisa Glasson in Doc Martin, it’s understandable to think Caroline will be equally frosty. In reality, she is softly spoken and very different from the characters she plays – and she loves them all the more for that.
“Obviously there are elements of yourself you bring to roles, but Louisa and Helen are both so different and that’s what I enjoy – playing roles that are diverse,” says Caroline.
“You immerse yourself in a new character and I’m not sure which bits of myself go in and which don’t.”
That, she suggests, is for others to decide. Caroline, 44, admits Helen probably isn’t the easiest person to live with.
“And when the new series starts, she’s had some big, big problems with her husband, so it’s going to be interesting…”
“Louisa is a fantastic character because she’s so direct and she doesn’t care what people think about her. There’s a great liberation in playing a character who is very forthright and speaks her mind. She’s clumsy and blunt, while at the same time she’s just trying to get to the bottom of things,” Caroline says. “She’s quite practical and it’s not like she’s being unkind – she’s just trying to sort through what she says and all the irrelevancies and get right down to the nub of the matter. I find that very entertaining.”
The seeds of a career in acting were planted early for Caroline, whose parents took her to see shows at Manchester venues such as the acclaimed Royal Exchange Theatre and the Opera House.
“I was so lucky to have that exposure to stuff and to be taken by my folks to see these amazing productions,” she says. “Going to the theatre was the thing that did it for me and especially going to the Royal Exchange where, incidentally, I’ve never worked, but I’d like to one day.”
When, or if, she treads the boards in her hometown’s most prestigious venue, it won’t be under her real name. She was born Caroline Caplan and when she started working assumed it was cool to keep the moniker. Then someone urged her to give Equity a call and she was told the name was already taken. “And I was like, ‘What?’” she says.
As Caroline is Jewish, she wanted a Jewish surname, and decided Catz had a nice ring to it. Studying at RADA in the days before mobile phones, she popped into a phone box. “Someone had drawn little cats everywhere, so that was my final decision on the matter,” she laughs. “You’d think you’d spend days, months or years agonising over a new name, but I didn’t even have anything in reserve. It wasn’t thought out – it took about three seconds.”
So the name Catz wasn’t in homage to Katz Delicatessen in New York – where Meg Ryan famously faked an orgasm in the movie When Harry Met Sally? Caroline yelps at the idea! “No, but funnily enough we were in New York recently. We didn’t eat at Katz, but we took some photos. I loved New York. It was my first proper visit and I was absolutely blown away by it.”