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Interview: actress Gemma Jones, talks about her career and working with Kevin Spacey ahead of Northampton screening

Gemma Jones as Queen Margaret in Richard III NNL-140306-181938001

Gemma Jones as Queen Margaret in Richard III NNL-140306-181938001

Best known for her role as mother, Pam Jones, in the Bridget Jones’ Diary films, actress Gemma Jones reflects on her career ahead of a live Q&A session alongside Hollywood actor, Kevin Spacey, which will be shown in Northampton next week.

On Monday, June 9, the pair will be answering questions after a screeening of NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage, a behind-the-scenes documentary following the global tour of Spacey’s 2011 stage production of Richard III.

The Q&A session will be broadcast via satellite to the Errol Flynn Cinema at Royal & Derngate.

Working with Spacey for the first time, Gemma, now aged 71, said: “He is a fine actor and director and we had a very interesting rehearsal period for the show itself.”

Speaking of the documentary filming whilst on tour she said: “I hadn’t done anything quite like it before so it was a bit inhibiting at first. But after a while we got used to it and forget they were there - which can get a bit dangerous.

“They filmed us working and just socialising and having fun, but luckily they edited out the naughty bits where language got a little blue.”

Gemma, who played the maddened widow, Queen Margaret, in Spacey’s stage production, has a wealth of experience both on screen and onstage.

She said: “I’m not really to one over the other and consider myself very lucky to have the chance to do both.

“I grabbed at the part when it was offered to me as there are not many parts for older women in Shakespeare plays and I really wanted to have a go while I still have all my marbles.

“Queen Margaret is a feisty character and it was exhausting, but stimulating.”

Although her brother and late father were both actors, Gemma says her upbringing was not especially theatrical.

“My father’s main concern was always that we ended up doing what we really wanted to do and for me that started off by going to drama school - I feel like I’ve never done an honest day’s work in my life.

“My job has been my education and I hope to keep doing it for years.”

But being a part of the video documentary has added an extra dimension on to what Gemma is used to and it hasn’t all been plain-sailing.

She said: “We did the show a few years ago and so the hardest part of doing these Q&A sessions is often to dredge up the memories. I’ve had to bluff it a couple of times but, luckily, Kevin is very erudite and articulate.

“Watching the documentary back has been a very interesting experience and I take something new away from it every time, and I always feel grateful that I could have been part of that experience.

“The tour itself was a learning curve; it was lovely to be part of such a happy company but we were together for almost a year and saw each other in our most vulnerable states, so we got to know each other very well.

“The only really tough part was when I was in a minor car accident in Greece and had to come home to have ligament surgery on my thumb. I missed the tour of Spain but I think my understudy had a lovely time filling in for me.”

Preparing for the session, Gemma said: “I’m looking forward to being reminded of the experience again, but I hope the questions aren’t too difficult.”

 

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