Back after brutal deaths

Back after brutal deaths

For someone who is known for dying two very gruesome deaths on TV, actress Michelle Fairley has an infectious laugh in real life.

During a 45-minute telephone interview with Life! recently, the 50-year-old, who famously died spectacular deaths on TV dramas Game Of Thrones (2011-2013) and 24: Live Another Day (2014), laughs easily and loudly, sometimes to the point of breathlessness.

In between chortles, the star from Northern Ireland admits that "in my family, my brother and sister and I - we all have loud, dirty laughs".

She laughs even harder when she is told that an eager fan has in fact created a YouTube video that collates a string of her laughter clips, and that it has been viewed close to 23,000 times. Below the video, a YouTube user commented that it is "the best video on YouTube, makes me so happy", while another user wrote that watching it "makes me smile every time".

Fairley says cheerily: "Wow, I didn't know about that video, thanks for telling me. I'm just incredibly flattered, that's so lovely. At home, I have an Apple computer but I never Google or search myself. I don't do social media or anything like that, and it's just incredibly flattering that people take time to do stuff like that."

Her animated and ultra sunny demeanour is a far cry from the fierce iron lady persona of her recent roles, particularly in Game Of Thrones, where she played protective matriarch Catelyn Stark, whose throat got slit at the end of Season 3.

Later, in 24: Live Another Day, she played evil terrorist Margot Al-Harazi who plotted drone attacks, but ultimately fell to her death when she was thrown out of a window at the end of the series.

The actress says in jest that she has become so closely associated with those roles that she is scaring off fans.

"People are so friendly and lovely whenever they see me, but I think it's the nature of my roles. I think they're possibly quite scared of me," she says, chuckling.

The actress has plenty to laugh about these days - she is, for a change, playing a character who gets a second chance at life when she miraculously revives after dying in Season 2 of critically acclaimed fantasy drama Resurrection, which premieres tonight.

She joins the show as Margaret Langston, who is one of the Returned, a group of people who bizarrely come back to life even after having been dead for years in the town of Arcadia, Missouri. It is a phenomenon that the townspeople find bittersweet, as they are unsure whether these Returned are even the same people they once loved and mourned.

The actress says between fits of laughter that the new show "is a lovely change".

"Usually when you get killed, you're out of the series. The lovely flipside of this is that you get the chance to come back again and I absolutely love that. But you know, it doesn't matter whether you live or die, you have an enjoyment with what you are given to work with as long as there is quality to the writing.

"And that's what an actor goes for. As long as the role grabs you by your heart and your guts and your brain, then whether it's death or resurrection, so be it. But yes, it's rather lovely, to get resurrected for a change."

Avid fans of Game Of Thrones will know that there is a double meaning to her words. In the book series by George R.R.Martin which the show is based on, her character is eventually resurrected as Lady Stoneheart, a zombie-like version of Catelyn Stark.

She vehemently declines to comment on the role and whether that resurrection storyline will eventually be explored in the TV show. But she sounds wistful whenever she talks about her former (perhaps, future?) castmates, calling them "dear friends".

"I absolutely still watch the show, and I love the show so much. I have some incredible friends - Lena (Headey) and Gwen (Christie) and Alfie (Allen) - and I love them dearly. I'm just incredibly proud of the show and I'm still rooting for the Starks," she says, somewhat cryptically.

Until that comeback happens, if ever, she is relishing her time on Resurrection.

Declaring herself a "huge fan" of the show's first season, she says: "The acting's fantastic and the production values are incredibly high and the writing is just wonderful. It's a show that really takes time with characters, where you get to know the inner workings of these people's minds, and the struggles that they have with grief and bereavement.

"I'm just incredibly fortunate to be part of it."

Sounding genuinely grateful, she adds: "I'm a working actor and I'm employed, and to me, that's a success. There are so many actors in the world but why does one actor get a job over another person?

"Sometimes, when women get older, they don't necessarily work, and I understand that. So I don't take any of this for granted. I work hard, I respect the people I work with and I just love it all."


This article was first published on September 29, 2014.
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