My secret life: Juliet Stevenson

Actress, 52


The home I grew up in... doesn't exist. I grew up all over the world. My father was in the army and was posted to a new place every two and a half years. I have no geographical roots.

When I was a child I wanted to be... a waitress and an air hostess - a common element of serving other people, which I do a lot at home. So I've fulfilled my ambition after all.

The moment that changed me for ever was... the moment I first heard Shakespeare spoken out loud, by a group of actors at school. Theirs was a five-person rendition of King Lear. I walked out an hour later, transformed by the language and scale of thinking and feeling.

My greatest inspiration... is my mum, who has overcome an enormous amount and remains joyous, outward-looking and energetic.

My real-life villain... cruelty to children is the thing I can least bear in the world.

My style icon... Annie Lennox: her confident, celebratory and individual commitment to style, and her disregard for fashion trends dictated by cynical forces.

If I could change one thing about myself... it would be almost everything

At night I dream of... losing my children was a recurring one when I was younger.

What I see when I look in the mirror... I tend to see someone I don't always recognise.

My favourite item of clothing... is a shirt I wear that belonged to my brother, whom I lost seven or eight years ago.

I wish I'd never worn... I'm rather haunted by a Westwood dress I wore to pick up an award for Truly Madly, Deeply. I arrived straight off a plane, and my friend sorted out the outfit – made of old car tyres. She persuaded me it was cutting-edge, but the only edge it cut was into the flesh around my hips. It felt like the worst form of fancy dress.

It's not fashionable but I like... rubber clogs.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... remembering people and what they have told me in past conversations.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... cooking, saving money, organising my finances in any way that makes sense.

All my money goes on... keeping this quite large, expensive and very active household afloat.

If I had time to myself... I never have time to myself; it's the one thing about my life I would probably hope to change.

I ride... a bike in Suffolk, which makes me happier than almost anything else.

My house... is bohemian, cluttered, warm and noisy.

My most valuable possessions are... the clay sculptures my daughter made between ages of 9 and 11. She worked with a potter and made the most remarkable series.

My favourite building... is the Alhambra de Grenada, which is vast and yet it's like lace. It embodies the most exquisite harmony of water, form and light

Movie heaven... is a night at the Everyman theatre in Hampstead, watching an Ingmar Bergman film, with regular popcorn.

A book that changed me... was Emile Zola's Germinal, set in a mining community in southern France. Those 19th century novelists were exposing the appalling injustices of the new post-industrial age. It was a big source of political fire in my late teens.

My favourite work of art... if I could have any artist's work on way sitting room wall it would probably be by Van Gogh or Picasso.

The last album I bought/downloaded... recently I have been listening to a lot of violin artists, particularly Bach sonatas.

The person who really makes me laugh... my children, all the time, every day.

The shops I can't walk past... there are many of those: the Oxfam bookshop in Highgate Village, John Lewis, the garden centre and if I'm with my daughter then Abercrombie and Fitch.

The best invention ever... antibiotics.

In ten years time... I hope to have more time to think, to look at the sky, dealing with less crisis management, to learn another language, to travel.

My greatest regret... I have quite a robust relationship with regret. You simply don't know what the alternative would have been.

My life in six words... hectic, privileged, blessed, crowded, challenging, happy

A life in brief

Juliet Stevenson CBE was born in October 1956 in Kelvedon, Essex. A Laurence Olivier award-winning stage actress, her extensive film credits include a lead role opposite Alan Rickman in Anthony Minghella's Bafta-winning Truly, Madly, Deeply. She lives in north London and Suffolk with her husband and three children, and stars in Duet for One at the Almeida until 14 March. almeida.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits