Close-up: Anamaria Marinca

Sexual slavery, abortion, psychosis – all in a gritty day's work for this actor

Nobody could accuse Anamaria Marinca of making things easy on herself. The Romania-born actress made her debut on British screens five years ago in the powerful Channel Four drama Sex Traffic (scooping three Best Actress awards in the process) and followed it with an equally gritty film role in the Palme d'Or-winning tale of illegal abortion 4 months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days.

Now she is sinking her teeth into 4:48 Psychosis, a visceral, abstract exploration of an emotional breakdown by the late playwright Sarah Kane, in a tough one-woman production at London's Young Vic.

Talking to the 31-year-old, one gets the impression she is at her happiest working with material that delves into the furthermost edges of human experience. "The more difficult, the better," she enthuses. "If I am playing a part and don't encounter questions, I create them."

Marinca is less comfortable with the bizarre "authority" her portrayal of weighty subject matters has conferred on her: "It was a miracle to be able to tell the story of 4 Weeks, but when I was promoting it, people asked for my own opinions on abortion. Who am I to offer solutions? My job is to raise questions."

The blurring of art and life seems to be an inescapable condition for Marinca; she confesses to internalising every character she plays. "I think of an actor as an athlete of the soul – you train yourself to jump into another reality," she explains. "To portray an emotion honestly, I have to be in it, so when I'm taking a shower, when I'm on my bike, even if I'm not thinking about it, my character is with me." n

Marinca performs '4:48 Psychosis' at the Young Vic, London SE1 (020 7922 2922, www.youngvic.org), from 21 July to 8 August

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