My Secret Life: Andrea Riseborough, Actress, age 27

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The Independent Culture

The home I grew up in... was the house that dad built. He was not, in fact, Jack, but George. There was no one else living on the street when we bought our cheap plot of land; everything grew around us.

When I was a child I wanted to be... everything, which is why I, eventually, became an actor.

The moment that changed me for ever... was the first time I ever watched A Streetcar Named Desire, and the moment Brando utterered his first line, that first mumble. It was a mixture of shock, excitement and the sound of all these doors opening out in front of me.

My greatest inspiration... is William Shakespeare. Not just the stories, which are essentially Greek; it's the way he tells them.

My real-life villain... Predictive text. Anything that recognises the word Yahoo and not the name Stevie is pure, unadulterated evil.

My style icon... has yet to be born. But Marc Bolan was headed in the right direction.

If I could change one thing about myself... it would just not be possible: that would be like trying to eat just one Malteser. I'd need more.

At night I dream of... a house by the sea. There's something really simple and idyllic about living in a house very close to the water.

What I see when I look in the mirror... At the minute, I see a big fat gap because one of the three tiles that makes up my mirror has recently parted ways with the wall. I haven't worn a belt that matches my shoes in months.

My favourite item of clothing... It's a toss-up between my black-felt fedora hat and my faux-snakeskin cowboy boots from [the vintage clothing store] Bang Bang – originally Miu Miu. I went home and announced to my friend that I'd got some new shoes by "Mooey Mooey". She insisted that I never leave the house again.

I wish I'd never worn... a kung-fu T-shirt for a photoshoot about up-and-coming actors: it didn't exactly scream "Ibsen".

It's not fashionable but I like... Poirot. I'm thinking of creating a fan club for young people. There's a hole in the market there.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... amateur contortionism. It's a great party piece.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... throwing. I've always thrown like a girl.

All my money goes on... books. I just bought a ladder for the shelves in our living room.

If I have time to myself I... sing loudly, though singing-alone time often spills over in to singing-with-others time. I'm not sure whether they appreciate that.

I ride... the bus, when I have time. It's the best way to see London. Plus, the Tube map is a lie.

My house is... in Hackney. My favourite things in it are: a plastic American eagle-shaped phone, which I bought on Staten Island in New York; it's attached to a sign I found on the street which reads: "Please Ring for Attention"; a great picture of Peter Sellers, which is kept in the bog.

My most valuable possession is... a letter my dad gave to me.

My favourite building... I loved the Guggenheim museum in Venice; and much of the architecture in Warsaw.

Movie heaven... Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, on a rainy day; any Shane Meadows' film. And the one I can watch umpteen times is Nikita Mikhalkov's Unfinished Piece for Mechanical Piano.

A book that changed me... was, surprisingly, Tracey Emin's Strangeland, which I read while researching an acting role playing an artist. It changed the way I approach my work.

The best invention(s) ever... The pen, the contraceptive pill and the printing press.

My favourite work of art... There are many: Hieronymus Bosch's heaven, hell and pergatory panel, The Garden of Earthly Delights. And anything by Goya.

The shops I can't walk past are... the Oxfam book shop in Bloomsbury, central London. I dare you to walk past it. It's so good that it's criminal. And the renowned ukulele shop, the Duke of Uke, in east London. I've never bought anything from there, but I do like a good browse whenever I'm passing by.

The last album I bought... was Wagner's Parsifal, because it was a particular rendition that I wanted. And I downloaded an album by the Seattle-based band Fleet Foxes.

The person who really makes me laugh is... my sister. She is the only person who can make me laugh so hard that I wee a little bit: that uncontrollable, belly-aching laughter.

In 10 years' time, I hope to be... that's a hard one. It would have to be as broad as hoping that I am continuing to enjoy life.

My greatest regret... is not getting to spend more time with my grandad.

My life in seven words... trial, error, fast, joyful, changing, Su Pollard.

A life in brief

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1981, Andrea Riseborough trained at Rada and won the 2006 Ian Charleston award for her stage performance in Measure for Measure. This year she played a young Margaret Thatcher in the acclaimed television drama The Long Walk to Finchley, and appeared in Mike Figgis's multi award-winning film Happy Go Lucky. She will perform opposite Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov at the Donmar Warehouse, London, until 29 November. Visit donmarwarehouse.com for tickets. She lives with her best friend in Hackney, east London

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