Brenda Fricker has achieved much in her long and varied career and is now writing her memoir.
The book, which she has been working on for two years, will detail her lifelong battle with depression, her experiences of self-harm and years of physical abuse at the hands of her mother.
Only speak to the sunday independent, Fricker said her mother would “slap me in the face” and inflicted a whole host of other abuses on her.
She spent years trying to understand the experiences and eventually sought therapy.
Finally, Cork-based film producer David Puttnam gave her the courage to put pen to paper: “He told me, ‘It’s the only way you’ll ever get it out of your system.'”
The Oscar-winning actress who has starred in hugely successful films including my left foot, The field and home alone 2, says the writing process uncovered repressed memories. “I’m trying to understand why she did it. I still don’t get it, but when she saw me she couldn’t contain herself.”
Fricker says she also feels “guilty” about sharing her past because her mother was also a good woman who was kind to the people in her community. “I was the only one who seemed to have triggered it in her. And if you toss that coin, I was the one that was your pride. Unlike my sister.
“She turned me into a doll and gave me the curly hair and bows and my poor sister put her hair back all the time and was never allowed to do anything. And yet she was the bright and interesting one.”
She says she’s been prescribed over two dozen pills a day since then for depression. Of the “poisonous” disease, she says, “I’ve had it since I was 14 and when it hits you, you’re in a horribly dark place and you have to learn techniques to survive.”
Over the years, her attempts to cope with the pain have resulted in physical self-harm. Fricker recalls wanting what was “tormenting” her to stop: “But this thing of cutting your wrist and wanting blood, and the desperation in it — all you get is shame, shame , shame, shame.”
When asked if she ever felt the need to punish herself because that was her standard childhood experience, she says, “That’s a good question, a good thought. The pain was just so unbearable, I couldn’t stand it a second longer and I kind of had to let it go.”
Fricker spoke ahead of the airing of the highly anticipated crime drama Keep, in which she plays the housekeeper Lizzie Meany, on Virgin Media tomorrow night. The adaptation of Graham Norton’s novel also plays a role game of Thrones Actors Conleth Hill and Pauline McLynn.
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Filmed in Skibbereen, Co Cork, Fricker traveled 40km every morning for 12 hour days of filming because she could only find a hotel where she could share a room with her dog Juno. Although the 77-year-old previously retired from filming, he took on the role “because someone has to pay the milkman.” Her finances are a difficult subject for her and she says she was in her 50s and planning to retire when she realized her life savings had been depleted.
Although she declined to share her experience for legal reasons, she said: “I had saved five pounds under half a million and then I was told I didn’t have a single brown penny in the bank.
“I can remember the exact moment I went up to my dad and told him what my bank manager had said and I remember he put his book down and thought for a moment and said, ‘You don’t have a love of money ‘Brenda, you will be good’.
“I went to Dollymount Strand and must have walked there half a dozen times and I realized he was right. I’m strong enough to get back to work and I did. One reason I’m writing the book is to pay the bills. ”
Fricker still lives at The Liberties in Dublin, where she has converted three cottages into one home.
She keeps her Oscar as a doorstop to her toilet and keeps in regular contact with director Jim Sheridan, who she says “would crawl across cut glass to work with again.”
In recent years, aging has made her think more about her own mortality. When asked where she would like to be buried, she says: “There is a joke that there is a place waiting for me in Deansgrange where I will be with my mother. There’s something very funny about being flung together again.”
Holding airs tomorrow at 9pm on Virgin Media One
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/actress-brenda-fricker-my-mother-would-punch-me-in-the-face-she-couldnt-control-herself-41979108.html Actress Brenda Fricker: “My mother hit me in the face – she couldn’t control herself”