Kierston Wareing is a fierce and ambitious actress whose career dates back to 2007, when Ken Loach, one of the most prestigious British filmmakers, discovered her and cast her as the lead in It’s a Free World, where she played a single mum Angie, who turned into a coldhearted recruitment ‘agent’. The film was awarded the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay at the 2007 Venice Film Festival; Wareing was praised for her extraordinary performance by many, including Peter Howell, who wrote in the Toronto Star, “Newcomer Wareing delivers an award-worthy performance as the steely Angie, who is impossible to hate even as she descends deeper into the moral abyss.” For the role of Angie, the actress also received a nomination for the Best Actress in a Leading Role BAFTA Award. Her next big performance was the one of Joanne in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, which won Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival; Andrea Arnold always raved about Wareing, stating “I loved Kierston the minute I set eyes on her and felt I had known her all my life. I cast her in one second. It turned out she grew up in the area we filmed in so maybe that is what I tapped into. She felt very genuine, her accent, everything felt authentic.” Kierston also starred in TV shows such as EastEnders, Runway, The Take (along with Tom Hardy), Luther (along with Idris Elba) and The Bible. She was recently seen in Jim O’Hanlon’s A Hundred Streets where she portrays a cabbie’s wife who tries to adopt, but it all changes for her and her husband when an incident occurs on the road. She has, yet again, delivered well.
There is something about Kierston that I cannot explain, but whenever I see her on the big screen it makes me want to watch her non stop. She has got that Brigitte Bardot’s sparkle, and I agree with Michael Fassbender’s statement that “She looks like Brigitte Bardot (…), Kierston got this sultry, sexy rawness to her” – she definitely has it.
I was very excited when Kierston agreed to talk to me about her film career. I must admit that she is an incredibly friendly and down-to-earth lady.
Kierston Wareing as Joanne in Fish Tank
We all had dreams when we were children; Kierston’s one was to be an actress: “I always wanted to act. From the age of seven I really wanted to be an actress, and I have taken an acting lesson since that age.”
“After leaving school I travelled to New York to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, but after returning to the UK it was hard for me to find an acting job. But then, unexpectedly, I was cast by Ken Loach for a role of Angie in It’s a Free World and that’s how it all begin.”
Spanning 40 years and over 60 films, Ken Loach represents one of the best contemporary British cinema; He knows what he wants from his actors; he sometimes leaves his performers without a script or allows his actors to see only part of the script.
“Ken never gave me a script and he never told me what Angie was all about. We worked in sequences. I remember I had to learn to ride a motorbike, which was just awful, I was just bad in riding the motorbike. Apart from that I didn’t have any information on anything, I just went with Ken’s directions. On the first day, when we were in Ukraine, I got my scene and that’s how I learnt what I would be doing the next day on set, and as I said before, it was all filmed in sequences.”
Ken Loach has a natural talent in picking his film stars; sometimes they are emerging young actors and sometimes the well-established ones; undeniably, he always gets the right team together.
“Working with Ken Loach was an honour. He is a genius and such a humble person. I have learnt so much from him; he listens to his actors. He is just one of those directors that you will always remember that you worked with. He also gave me that amazing break and I am very grateful for that.”
The UK Premiere of A Hundred Streets
Kierston is currently starring in Jim O’Hanlon A Hundred Streets, a film about alcoholism, petty crime, drugs and infidelity. It also follows a group of Londoners of different backgrounds and race. What really attracted her to the film was not only a great assemble of excellent actors, such as Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton, but also the script: “I enjoyed reading the script, and Kathy, the woman I portray, is an interesting individual. She is a working woman in an ordinary, happy marriage. She is just normal, and that’s why I like her character. Yes, she has her own problems, but that’s what the film is really about. Each character has some kind of issues. All in all, it was a nice change to be someone different in the film.”
Even though Idris Elba and her didn’t film any scenes together, Kierston admitted that it was lovely to work with him on the same production; previously they worked together on the TV show called Luther.
Every Kierston’s role seems to be a demanding one; Angie from It’s a Free World – a ruthless recruitment ‘agent’; Joanna from Fish Tank – a single and slightly disturbed mother; or Jackie from The Take – a suffering wife of an East End gangster, tough but vulnerable woman with issues. One would wonder: which one of these characters was the most challenging one?
“I think the hardest role for me was – without a doubt – the role of Jackie, I was emotionally drained by the end of shooting; I am sure the entire cast was. That said, I loved playing all those characters. The only thing that honestly scares me is auditioning and casting as I wanna do my job well.”
“Playing Jackie was exciting as well; I was able to show all sorts of emotions on the screen. But, as I said before, it was a really hard and draining role.”
In The Take, Kierston performed alongside Tom Hardy, who is known for his extreme dedication on set. According to the actress they just ‘co-operated’ well, being professional on set worked out for both of them.
Kierston Wareing as Angie in It’s a Free World
Apart from Ken Loach, Kierston had the pleasure to act in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank. Arnold once said that “I loved Kierston the minute I set eyes on her and felt I had known her all my life (…).” Was the feeling mutual?
“I absolutely loved working with Andrea. Luckily, I am still friends with her till this day. Andrea was very easy to work with; I guess I was lucky. She worked in sequences and gave me a script two days before shooting, but I didn’t mind. In general, I was truly lucky to work with her.”
With over 44 film credits – including TV – under her belt, Kierston has been keen on learning more about filmmaking itself. Will she ever stand behind the camera? She definitely would love to invest more into her acting: “There is always space for improvement, and I would like to work more on the method acting.” She also added that “at the age of 50 (laughs) I would like to direct films”, but she still has over a decade before turning 50; I am sure the audience will see her in a dozen new films before that. That said, she has a new project, already travelling Europe at the moment. It is called The Habit of Beauty which is an Italian film by Mirko Pincelli. She also stars in Cardboard Gangsters, an Irish film by Mark O’Connor, which hasn’t been released in the UK yet. She added that “the film consists of actors who previously played in the famous Irish TV show called Love/Hate; the film is written by John Connors who starred in the last series of Love/Hate too.”
Without a doubt, Kierston Wareing keeps herself very busy. We are looking forward to her future projects and we would like to thank her for taking the time in her busy schedule to chat to View of the Arts.
Interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Written by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna
Featured Image/ Bottom Right Image © Chris Yates Photography
Fish Tank/It’s a Free World photos © Fish Tank/ It’s a Free World
A Hundred Street Film Premiere photo © David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage
Michael Fassbender’/ Andrea Arnold’s quotes source The Independent