Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Was Wrecked by Hollywood; the Braveheart Star Speaks Frankly about Humiliation, Dumbing Down and the Love Scene That Left Her in Tears

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Was Wrecked by Hollywood; the Braveheart Star Speaks Frankly about Humiliation, Dumbing Down and the Love Scene That Left Her in Tears

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KEANE

CATHERINE McCORMACK has never been one to play her roles straight.

From Braveheart to The Land Girls, to the new TV film Elizabeth David: A Life In Recipes, she imbues her characters with a tragic complexity. In person she is equally interesting, if rather strange, to watch. Throughout our meeting, she unconsciously claws at her arms and neck, leaving red marks; ask her a question she regards as intrusive and she retreats into her chair.

She was "an insecure, shy child", and, to be honest, that's how she comes across at 34.

Her complexity must stem, in part, from the death of her mother when she was six years old. Ironically, her first acting role, aged 14, was that of a 60-year-old mother at a drama club in Alton, Hampshire. This gave her the acting bug. "A therapist would probably say it may have come from the loss of a mother and being a shy child," she says.

McCormack won a place at the Oxford School of Drama in Woodstock, where an agent who saw her in a college show put her up for a role in Loaded, a poorly-received film released in 1994. This led, however, to the highest-profile role of her career, when Mel Gibson saw the film and decided to give her the role of his romantic interest in Braveheart. "I was a neurotic wreck," she says (remembering the meeting makes her scratch her neck). But Catherine McCormack was the hot new face in Hollywood.

"I went to Hollywood for two weeks to see how the land lay," she says, "but I couldn't stay. I started becoming more neurotic, feeling I had to fit a certain image and worrying about the way I looked.

Maybe my character wasn't strong enough. It was thrilling, but I felt like a commodity. Then, when I was in a film that wasn't so successful, there weren't so many calls. So I wised up quickly." In the forthcoming The 39 Steps, a stage adaptation of the Hitchcock film, she takes on three roles: a spy, a crofter's wife and the feisty heroine. …

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