Anne-Marie Duff: “No-one’s allowed to be an enigma any more”

The Shameless actress discusses her new role in From Darkness, the draw of the theatre and the downside of being married to a movie star

She enjoys the freedom of theatre: “You get to try out lots of different things. Also, you’re in charge. You’re in charge of your own cock-ups as well! So if you screw up, it’s down to you. It feels like a nice world to live in, because you know your beginning, your middle and end, and you never know that in real life.” The first theatre she recalls really changing her was when her school took her to the National, to see Daniel Day-Lewis play Hamlet. “I was completely in love,” she laughs. “I couldn’t breathe for about three and a half hours.”


From here, we branch off into a discussion about celebrity and acting. Duff bemoans how much publicity is deemed necessary to promote films and theatre today. “There was a time when someone like Daniel Day-Lewis would do one interview and everybody would buy whatever paper it was in, so they would read that one interview. Now, if he’s selling a movie, he would have to do 100 interviews, and each of those interviews would be spewed out into something else on the internet, so it diffuses the power of that person, in a way. No one’s allowed to be an enigma any more, and that’s a shame.”

And, as one half of a well-known couple, there can be even more pressures. People want to know about her life with McAvoy, whom she calls “a movie star”. “I get it,” she says, “the hunger for it, but it’s just not my job.”

Anyway, even if she was that way inclined, she’s far too busy to keep promoting herself and her family on social media. Their son is now five and a half, so the routine of school is ruling the Duff-McAvoy roost. “Logistics,” she says. “That’s the title of this chapter of our lives.”

“It means I get a bit impatient with people who are late. I’m just like, ‘Can we all be here on time and commit?’ Because then, when I go home, I’ll be there on time and I’ll really commit, and I’ll be the best mummy I can be, and when I’m at work, I’ll be the best I can be at my job. “The thing about having a kid is,” she continues munching on a sandwich, doing an interview, rehearsing a play, rocking a corset, “you get a lot of stuff done.”


From Darkness begins on BBC1 tonight (Sunday 4th October) at 9.00pm