Hi Sarah, do you miss working with Jean Costello who played Rita and David Mitchell who played Jimmy?
I've known David and Jean almost all my life, so I really miss working with the two of them. I used to have so many scenes with them so it's strange to go to having none. Jean was back with us recently for a week, and Jimmy (Bela), Ciara (Yvonne) and I were thrilled to see her back. Hopefully I'll work with them both again soon.
Is there someone on the Fair City set that you would like to see Suzanne work more with?
Gemma Doorly's character Sarah; they have been friends for a long time and been through a lot together and also its always great fun to work with Gemma!
Do you think that Suzanne Halpin will ever become a mother in the next coming year?
I would like to think that she will have a baby some day but it would depend on a few things. Damien would have to want a baby, which he definitely doesn't right now, and I think Suzanne has lot of issues to sort out before she becomes a mother, as she is very angry these days. I do think though that Suzanne would be so happy if she did have a baby because it's all she has ever wanted, so hopefully some day it will happen for her.
Do you think Suzanne would ever cheat on Damien?
No, but if she finds out about Neasa, who knows!?
How do you think Suzanne will react if/when she finds out about Damien being unfaithful?
Oh God I don't know! She went crazy when he left the mussels out of the fridge so I can't even imagine how she would react if she found out about Neasa!
If Suzanne hadn't married Damien, who would you have liked to see her marry instead?
That's a good question, maybe someone who could make her see the lighter side of things, or maybe Paul, he likes Doyle women and has fathered three children with three different women (two of whom were Suzanne's sisters) so I'm sure he'd give Suzanne a baby too!!
Suzanne and Yvonne have had a difficult relationship. Do you prefer it when the two characters are fighting or when they are more sisterly and on side with each other?
I love working with Ciara, either fighting or getting on. But I think for now its good for them to be getting on'. Suzanne doesn't really have anyone to confide in and talk to. In the end, they are sisters. It took a while but I think they understand each other more now.
What's it like working with Jim Bartley? Do you have a close relationship?
I love working with Jimmy, some of my favourite scenes have been with him. We are great friends off set; he has seen me grow up and he said a lovely few words at my wedding recently.
How are the orangutan's in Borneo?
They are great; we keep in touch via e mail and on skype.
What was it like to be an actor on Fair City as a child?
It was great fun. My sister Alex, (who played the first Yvonne) and my brother Robert were extras to start with and we were always thrilled when we got a line or two! We loved going in for the day and the crew used to give us chocolate and crisps from Doyle's corner shop!
Has Fair City changed a lot since you started?
Absolutely, when Fair City started it was on just once a week with just one crew. We could never have imagined going out four nights a week back then! The biggest change is the workload. Also there is a much bigger cast, so there is a lot more stories happening at once, which is great and keeps the viewers interested. When it started we were out in studios in Ardmore Studios in Bray and we used to shoot the outside of the houses in an estate in Drumcondra, so there was a lot of travelling involved. Now everything is in RTE, even the park, which of course is a lot easier and allows more time.
Suzanne is looking really well on screen lately. Are you enjoying her new found sense of style?
I love it. I was in black for so long!! Suzanne always dressed a bit old for her age, so I'm loving all the fitted jackets and trousers she has now.
What has been your biggest challenge as an actor on Fair City?
Probably the story I'm doing at the moment. I've been playing Suzanne for almost twenty one years and she has always been fairly straight. So for her to be out on the street in her nightie shouting at Damien is so unlike her. I'm really enjoying how her anger and frustration keeps building and building. I think she feels like her life isn't panning out the way she wanted it to, what with money worries and her desire for a baby. She thinks Damien doesn't care, which makes her so angry. It's very sad for the two of them, as I think they do love each other. As an actor it's always good to get stuck into something and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Do you have a favourite moment or a favourite storyline from all your time on the show?
There are so many, but probably Suzanne's wedding. It was a long week. I was in that wedding dress for six days straight, it was so heavy, and I'll never forget it. We loved doing that story line because it involved the happiness of the wedding followed by the tragedy of Rita's stroke. The story continued for a good few weeks and it was very sad to see the family trying to handle the situation. Rita was always the one everyone went to for help and now she was the one who needed looking after. We got a lot of positive feedback from the public, especially from people who had gone through it or were going through it at the time.
You have grown up on the show. Do you feel like there's a lot of Sarah in Suzanne and vice versa? Or are you able to keep your own personality and Suzanne's very separate?
I think Suzanne and I are different in so many ways. I think I can keep them separate for that reason, saying that though there are a few personality traits we may share, she has very strong family values and is very loyal.
If you weren't an actor, what would you do for a living?
Probably something to do with food! I love cooking, but wouldn't be able to handle the pressure of a kitchen. So maybe a food critic. Eating in nice restaurants for a living? I think I could handle that.
What do you think the future holds for Suzanne and Damien?
It's hard to tell. I think deep down Suzanne and Damien do love each other. The pressure of the recession, Suzanne's mother's health worries and the whole baby issue are the main problems in their marriage. If they can get through this difficult time, it might make their relationship stronger. But infidelity is on a different level, so if she finds out about Neasa it's anyone's guess the effect it will have on their relationship.
Photo courtesy of RTÉ Stills Library.