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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Fair City star Clelia Murphy: 'Who is to say I won't be booking my ticket to Hollywood next year?'

Clelia Murphy
Clelia Murphy

Many of us will be familiar with Clelia Murphy in her long term role as one of Fair City's most beloved and colourful characters, Niamh Cassidy.

But the actress has been broadening her horizons lately and it is an experience she has every intention of repeating. In fact, Hollywood may even be beckoning.

"It all depends on storylines," Clelia explains, regarding her work outside of the soap.

"This year I have done a film and a couple of shorts. I produced my own short actually too and I am in this great show now Elvis Is My Daddy written by John Murphy and starring the wonderful Eilish O'Carroll. It's great to do these things, if and when I have the time."

However, Clelia is dubious about the singing and dancing skills which the new Elvis Is My Daddy musical requires.

"It's about Lana LaVelle, played by Eilish O' Carroll, who was a big Las Vegas star in her day and she hasn't sang since. But due to circumstances beyond her control she is back on the road working and she can't afford proper backing singers anymore, so she has to bring her two useless daughters with her and that's where I come in," Clelia says, laughing.

"It's great because I actually am useless so it's not a big ask. I will be singing and dancing. I can't believe I am, but I am," Clelia adds.

"I am absolutely terrified. I have never done anything like this before and I never wanted to. Only that John Murphy, the writer, asked me I would never have done it. All the way through, I kept thinking 'he'll get someone else to do it in the end, but he didn't.

"I have spent the last couple of months trying to talk him out of it. So I have no choice really, but I am so glad he did ask me. It's all about doing something different, so it's exciting too," she says.

Clelia's role in the show as the caustic-tongued LulaBelle LaVelle couldn't be any further removed from the other characters she has played to date.

"It's completely different, she is nothing like the earth mother that Niamh is," Clelia says. "My character, she is not nice - she is just an unapologetic weapon. She is horrible in every way, but it is actually a lot of fun to play that role."

Clelia started out on Fair City in 1996, after one of the show's producers saw her performing in a Dublin Youth Theatre production.

theatrical

"I think I was always one of those kids dancing around the kitchen and kicking my own height," Clelia explains. "My grandfather was a bookie and he had the most incredible singing voice - his family were very theatrical, but not on the stage. His father would have been a regular in Maureen's Bar in the Gaiety and my mother would have brought us to go and see all of the Passion Machine stuff when I was a kid, with the likes of Brendan Gleeson and all of the rest them.

"I had always done the Gaiety School of Acting when I was a kid too, but I was always the quiet one," Clelia adds.

Clelia's daughter Clara-Belle is now following in her mother's acting footsteps.

"The funny thing is that Clara has joined the Dublin Youth Theatre now, so we are into the second generation and she has been cast in a show for the National Association for Youth Drama that is going on in August, so the excitement in our house is palpable," Clelia smiles.

motivation

Clelia credits her daughter, whom she had aged 22, as being both her biggest motivation and inspiration in life.

"Clara is very independent," she beams. "As much as I am involved in her life, she is her own lady and she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it and she is very disciplined. I don't know where I got her from, but all I can say is thank God I did."

There are no regrets in life, Clelia explains, just lessons.

"I am very mindful in hindsight," she laughs. "In hindsight I have 20:20 vision. Everything that I haven't planned or has been given to me in life has always turned out for the best. I am grateful for my life and the lessons I have learned.

"There are no mistakes, only lessons and that's not something that everyone would agree with, but that's how I have looked at life.

"You have got to see everything as a gift, the good and the bad. If you allow it to be, life can be quite beautiful."

Planning holds little appeal for Clelia but that said, the savvy actress holds a master degree in screenwriting and is always on the lookout for her latest adventure. Hollywood, may even be a possibility at some stage.

"As I am getting older and as Clara is getting older, I am beginning to see things differently," she explains.

"When Clara was younger it would not have held any appeal for me and in fact I turned stuff down, whereas now you look around and you realise that there are no real rules. So I embrace whatever comes and I am saying yes to everything.

"Have I got a ticket booked to Hollywood? No, but who is to say that I won't be booking one this time next year?" Clelia says, smiling.

"I didn't plan the last 20 years of my life and they have turned out great."

Clelia Murphy appears in Elvis Is My Daddy at The Dolmen Theatre in Cornelscourt, Co Dublin from August 24-29. See www.dolmentheatre.ie

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