The actress says she’s keen to bring her much-loved character, Ronnie Mitchell, back from the dead
We know her best as one half of the feisty Mitchell sisters in EastEnders, but after her character, Ronnie, was killed off in 2017 (along with on-screen sister, Roxy, played by Rita Simons) Samantha Womack has since swapped performing on the small screen for the stage.
She’s currently starring in her most challenging role yet, as she tours the country in the stage adaptation of hit thriller The Girl on the Train playing Rachel – an alcoholic involved in the investigation of a woman’s mysterious disappearance.
Here, Samantha, 46, tells us why she prefers theatre to TV, how she juggles the demands of family and work life – and why she’s ‘too old’ for date nights!
Hi, Samantha! What made you want to take part in The Girl on the Train?
I loved the book, as did everyone else, but I wasn’t sure how they would turn it into a play. Once I was sent the script I found the whole thing really clever and by playing the main character I’m never off stage – I’m like Hamlet!
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And what’s it like playing Rachel?
She’s so broken you start the play feeling a little damaged. It does get to you. I did like that Rachel was an anti-hero and because she’s slightly pissed, she has no filter. I’ve only behaved like that a couple of times in my life. The audience love it – the ruder I am, the more they laugh!
What’s the hardest part of performing live?
I find theatre easier than screen as I can get bored of waiting around. For TV, there’s a lot of repetition and you’re not really in control, so the end result can be quite different to what you imagine.
Have you ever made any on-stage blunders?
Oh, yes! There’s a kissing scene that me and my co-star Oliver Farnworth have where we’re on the sofa getting intimate and the doorbell goes off as a signal to stop us snogging. But, one time the doorbell didn’t ring and we were kissing and kissing for ages. God, I was so embarrassed!
Would you ever go back to EastEnders?
Of course – I love the show. I’m not sure how they could do it as you saw my character’s [dead] body, but never say never right?
Do you still find time to catch up with Rita?
We speak about 18 times a day! She’s on tour at the moment, like me, so we’ll call each other to moan and gossip. We played sisters for nine years so it just feels weird if we don’t speak.
Would you do I’m a Celebrity, like she did?
Oh, I don’t know… they’d have to pay me a lot of money to starve myself and eat kangaroo nuts! When Rita came back she was so bloody exhausted, the whole thing is quite traumatic, so I’m not sure if I’d be best suited to it!
After starring in the big-budget Kingsman films, will you return to Hollywood?
Not at the moment, I find the whole thing a lot of fuss, especially getting done up for the premieres. Filming a scene takes all day. I prefer theatre.
How do you tackle working life as a busy mum?
I travel with my 13-year-old daughter, Lili-Rose. She loves touring and the theatre. She’s home-schooled and studies for five hours a day in an online classroom with her friends, except they’re all in other countries. My son, Benjamin, is 18, so he doesn’t want anything to do with me!
You’ve been married to actor Mark Womack for nearly 10 years – do you still have date nights?
I hate them! We’ve been together for 19 years – we’re too old for that nonsense. Because we work so much, I like being at home, lighting a fire, ordering a Chinese takeaway as a treat and sitting on the sofa with my dogs.
Samantha Womack is playing Rachel in the UK and Ireland theatre tour of The Girl on the Train. See girlonthetrainplay.com