Interview: Aisling Bea

From the interview archives.

Actress, comedian and writer Aisling Bea is known for her sharp wit and her creativity and has appeared on numerous critically acclaimed comedy panel programs like Would I Lie To You? and Nevermind The Buzzcocks. VULKAN caught up with Aisling to discuss the new crime drama series HARD SUN and her role as Mari Butler.

HARD SUN is currently airing on Saturday nights on BBC One and the complete series is available on BBC iPlayer now. HARD SUN will air on HULU in the U.S on March 7th, 2018.

You’ve appeared on so many different panel comedy shows, do you have one or two that you’re particularly fond of?
I love doing Qi; Sandi Toksvig has become a good pal now over the years and she brings sheer joy to the proceedings. It is one of the ones where it really does not feel like work and we always have a giggle. Plus sometimes we actually LEARN something. 

Do you recall the first time you expressed an interest in acting and comedy? Who or what prompted that?
Oh God, I was one of those children from a “get up and do your song for Granny” families. We were always encouraged to perform and even the worst singers in the family have an Adele level of confidence in their lack of ability. I made up plays in the playground, wrote the school plays in secondary school, would read out the news from the paper in a newsreader voice to my mother. I have always loved storytelling and entertaining people in whatever guise I do it in, it is probably the great love of my life.

What attracted you to Hard Sun?
I had done so many panel shows over the course of about six months and it can get a bit samey if you don’t take a break. I needed to do something grounded and different to what I had been doing so I felt really lucky that they took a chance on me for the part. I also LOVE Neil Cross and Luther, so knew it was going to be a good one.

Mari Butler seems like she has potential to be quite a complex character. What can you tell us about her and what we can expect as the season goes on?
She is a grieving mother, but is not as innocent as she comes across, she has secrets…ooohhhh.

What is it about Charlie that keeps Mari intrigued; is it purely physical?
For me I think it springs from loneliness and a want to be connected to someone who understands her loss. When I was thinking about the part, I often thought about how lonely it must have been for my own mother raising two children on her own, making packed lunches and getting us to school whilst simultaneously grieving for her husband and best friend and keeping up appearances for us.

Can we expect to see you in more roles like that of Mari in the future?
Hopefully. It is a performer’s dream to be able to stretch your creativity and be versatile. Otherwise I would have gotten a normal job. I will hopefully hear soon about my own TV show which has been in development for two years now, one of about seventy I have written over the last decade. That has quite a complicated role at its core too. I like playing complicated people or very, very stupid people. Not a fan of anything in between.

If you could compile your own tour full of your favourite comics, who do you choose and where would you tour?
Ooh! All my close friends are really talented so this would be a nice one – Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe, Lou Sanders, Jess Fostekew, Rob Delaney to name but a few but that would make a nice balance of a gig.

If you could shine a light on one cause this year, which is at the forefront of your mind? Without a doubt the Repeal the 8th Campaign in Ireland. Ireland’s abortion situation is archaic and embarrassing. Every single day at least 12 irish women are forced to fly out of ireland to get an abortion because of the restrictive laws in Ireland. Even if you are bleeding to death, or your baby is stillborn, there is no abortion in Ireland, they force you to continue with the pregnancy.

As a comedian you’re given more free reign than perhaps other celebrities to say what you’d like. More and more lately however we see comics get backlash for what they express. How do you feel about this and does it in any way affect your routine when you’re coming up with a new set?
I think you just have to go with your gut and not let ego get in the way if someone points out that you were on the wrong line of something, have a think about it and be your own critic and then see if you want to stick to your guns or not. I had a joke about diabetes and someone got in touch about their kid who had diabetes and I thought to myself “Nope, my joke is not making fun of people with diabetes, this guy is an idiot and I think his daughter would enjoy my routine.” But it is never any harm having a think about the bits that you do. I do think comedy is a beautiful way of bringing tough things to light and getting conversations going.

What’s one show that is currently airing that you would have loved to be a part of?
Ooh a couple, I would have loved to have done Inside No9, massive fan, also Search Party – the US show which I think is so bloody good.

Who are some up and coming talents that you think are worth checking out?
My friend Jess Fostekew is not an up and coming talent, but is one of my favourite comedians who just is not on TV enough, her stuff is so bloody good and her tour show Silence Of The Nans is one of the best hours I have seen in a long time. Please check her out.

If you achieve only one thing this year, what do you hope that is?
To get a series for my TV show that I have made with Sharon Horgan and to have written and made it by the end of the year. COME ON SHOWBIZZ GODS.

Favourite potato-based dish?
THIS IS AN UNFAIR QUESTION MADE TO TORMENT ME AS I CANNOT AND WILL NOT JUST PICK ONE. Dauphinoise, Potato Waffles, Any type of mash, Roast potatoes, potato soup, potato farls, potato cakes, potato rosti. I am to spuds what Bubba Gump was to shrimp.

Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island with nothing else in sight, or stranded on a boat out at sea?
Desert Island flipping the bird at the guy out on the boat who made the wrong choice.

What’s one thing/place that people visiting Ireland should check out while they’re there that they might not be aware of?
In Temple Bar food market in Dublin on a Saturday you can go and get a tray of Oysters and some white wine and brown bread and sit outside and eat them on a Saturday for 12 quid. DIVINE. 

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