Sharon Rooney

The Glaswegian Actor Talks to AM

Gill Sherry

Sharon Rooney definitely has one of those faces. You may see her and ask yourself, where have I seen her before? Or, wasn’t she in that thing on the tele? Or you might say, that’s Rae from My Mad Fat Diary!

Fact is, Sharon’s filmography is longer than you might think and includes everything from Dumbo to Brief Encounters to The Control Room.

But despite her screen success, the Glasgow-born actor insists she’s always been quite shy.

“I am quite a shy person, but that’s the beauty of acting. It’s playing so many different roles, playing parts, and getting to be so many different people. That’s what I love about it.”

As far as Sharon was concerned, she was always going to be an actor. Nothing else would do. She recalls seeing a pantomime with her aunt as a youngster and being captivated by the people on stage.

“Since I was little, it was all I talked about and all I had my heart set on. All the way through school, it was all I talked about doing.”

In school, she treated every single class as a performance.

“The whole school was a show for me,” she laughs. “I was always chatting. I was always the one to make people laugh, talking too much, being disruptive. I mean, more than two people is an audience really, isn’t it?”

After finishing school, Sharon enrolled on a three-year performing arts course and went on to earn a degree in drama at Hull University before landing her first major TV role in the comedy-drama, My Mad Fat Diary.

“That was quite the break to have,” she declares. “It still means a lot and I think it always will. That show helped a lot of people. It’s an honour that I think I’ll carry for as long as the show is still relevant… and I think it will always be relevant. Sadly, those issues will always be issues that people will have.”

She’s referring to the subjects of body image and mental health, both of which feature heavily in the series and form part of the plot. Sharon played the part of Rae Earl, a 16-stone 16-year-old who spent four months in a psychiatric hospital.

Sharon’s other television roles have included those of Becky in The Capture, Nicola in Finding Alice, Nina in The Teacher and, most recently, DI Anna Breck in The Control Room.
The Control Room was, of course, filmed in Glasgow. She must’ve loved being able to work in her home city?

“It was funny because… I was doing The Control Room and also Deep Heat at the same time and they were such contrasting jobs in every way. The Control Room was such a serious job and then I was on Deep Heat where I was playing this wrestler who took nothing seriously.

Me and Alistair Petrie were rolling around on a wrestling mat just giggling and then I was getting a night train… and filming very serious police matters. Things like that make me love my job.”

Despite appearing in countless films and TV shows, Sharon admits that she’s still learning her craft.

“Every day is a school day,” she tells me. “I think that’s the beauty of this industry. There’s not a job… where I haven’t learnt something from someone. Whether that’s how they are in the make-up chair or how they prepare for a scene. You’re always changing as an actor. No-one stays the same.”

I ask if there’s one specific role model she has enjoyed learning from. Keeley Hawes, perhaps? Or Sheridan Smith? How about Colin Farrell or Benedict Cumberbatch?

“It changes every job. Every job you’re on, you fall completely and madly in love with everyone you’re working with. You say, I’ve never worked with anyone better, I’ve never worked with a better team. Then five minutes later you’re on another job and you’re like, I’ve never worked with anyone better…”

She’s laughing as she says it, but it’s clear she means every word. Either that, or she’s avoiding having to name-drop an A-list celebrity into the conversation. Talking of which, does she ever get star-struck?

“I wouldn’t say I get star-struck… I just feel incredibly lucky and very grateful.”

What about when people get star-struck by Sharon Rooney?

“That just makes me laugh! When people have a funny reaction to me I’m like, don’t do that! It’s just me, I’m always very overwhelmed.”

One thing’s for sure, she will be recognised even more when the romantic-comedy Barbie is released later this year. The film, starring Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie, is set to hit the big screen in July, but Sharon remains tight-lipped about her own role in the film.

“It was a brilliant experience,” is all is she is prepared (or allowed) to say.

Instead, we chat about her role in series 1 of The Capture, the mystery thriller starring Holliday Grainger which, co-incidentally, was set in a control room.

“The way they’d done the set was really cool. It wasn’t a real control room, obviously, but you could actually move the camera around and stuff. It made me interested in doing that for a job because I’m quite nosy!”

Nosy as well as shy?

“Yeah, sounds like a terrible dating profile!”

Being a tad nosy myself (although, I prefer to call it curious), I ask about Sharon’s next acting roles but, unsurprisingly, she’s unable to disclose any details. I do know, though, that she’s recently finished filming the third series of Jerk, in which she plays care-worker Ruth to Tim Renkow’s unlikeable, cerebral palsy-suffering character, Tim.

But for now, she’s enjoying being back in Glasgow.

“I love being home. I’m such a home bird. The best part for me about going away is the coming home. The minute I’m done, I’m on the train and I’m straight home.”

Rumour has it Barbie has a pink convertible. Maybe next time she could hitch a lift in that…