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How We Met: Jane Horrocks & John Gordon Sinclair - 'I think she has a mild form of OCD'


Jane Horrocks, 50

After training at Rada, Horrocks began her career with the Royal Shakespeare Company before gaining acclaim for her role in Mike Leigh's 'Life is Sweet'. She has since appeared in a variety of stage and screen roles including the 1998 film 'Little Voice'. She lives in south London with her family

I saw Gregory's Girl in my twenties and thought it was fantastic. John Gordon had a natural charm – though I never thought I'd be friends with the person on screen. We met for drinks in London just before we did Self Catering [part of the Alan Bleasdale Presents… 1994 TV mini-series] together. It was a mad, alcohol-fuelled night out, and I remember the next day him telling me that when he got back he nearly burnt the house down cooking sausages. I remember thinking; I'm friends with an arsonist!

Self Catering [about a group of plane-crash survivors] was the best job I've ever done. It was filmed for four weeks in Tortola, in the Caribbean, and it really cemented our friendship. With the apartments we were staying in you could climb to other apartments across the roofs, so in the mornings I'd climb across to John's apartment for toast.

There was this one night at a "blue moon" party, where we had rum-punch marinated magic mushrooms and we went bonkers. I remember throwing sand in John's face and at the end of the night diving off this cliff into the sea. There's a picture of us looking like demented zombies!

After we got back from the trip he started a long relationship – and friends take a back seat when that happens – so I didn't see him as much. But about 10 years later, I asked him to join me in a play, and it got us back close as friends. I love how un-theatrical he is: I have very few actor friends.

When you're doing a play there's plenty to moan about, especially in the latter months when everyone is not getting on so well any more. Four months is my limit, though he's done years in some plays. He does get wound up by certain things, though; I've seen him nearly punch [another actor] once.

I'm not wild about being 50, though I loved my party. Although thanks to a friend of his, who got me several tequilas, I mostly remember getting hoicked up the stairs [where there's sleeping accommodation] by the owner of the Groucho Club as I was off my face. I went to another fiftieth recently with a lot of 50-year-old dads doing bad dancing: now that made me feel old.

I knew he used to read a lot in his spare time – when he wasn't talking to me – so I was very excited when he wrote his own thriller, Seventy Times Seven, which I felt was a really great debut. He's got a very individual voice and I think he's turning his hand to writing novels more than the acting, these days.

John Gordon Sinclair, 52

After a stint at the Scottish Youth Theatre in Glasgow, Sinclair's breakthrough was the title role of the 1981 romantic comedy 'Gregory's Girl'. His subsequent stage and screen credits include an Olivier Award-winning performance in the 1994 musical 'She Loves Me'. He is also a novelist, and the author of thriller 'Seventy Times Seven'. He lives in Surrey with his family

For Self Catering, we were flown out to the British Virgin Islands, and it turned into a dream job. Most of the filming took place on the beach and we were encouraged to swim in the breaks. Jane's character was Marilyn Monroe and mine was Henry Fonda, and to this day we use catchphrases from that job.

We hit it off from the word go. I'm not an actorly actor and I don't like actorly people, and considering the career she has had, she's the least actorly person I know; she's not a "luvvie" and never says "darling". She's eccentric, though. She's the only person I know who insists on calling me John Gordon!

I remember this blue moon beach party we had over there: part of the initiation was that we had to have a drink that the local mushrooms – which I'm sure were hallucinogenic –had soaked in and we ended up having this wild and magical evening with rasta bands playing and warm water lapping around this idyllic beach.

Since then we've worked on three other projects together – which all came about because of her – and I've ended up playing her on-stage husband a few times. We have a lot of laughs and, of course, she's a fantastic mimic.

I think though she must have a mild form of OCD, as she's an obsessive cleaner. Whenever I'd go to her dressing-room everything had to be in the same place; so I used to love going there and moving things around to wind her up. I often caught her in there with her yellow Marigolds on and a bottle of bleach in hand. I think she carries that into other areas of her life; when Jane does a character she researches deeply, which is why she's so good.

We're both great moaners: it always starts over professional issues and goes from there. When we were doing [the 2003 Stephen Poliakoff play] Sweet Panic, Jane would come to my dressing-room during breaks to sit and complain. Whenever Shauna, my wife, would phone, in the background Jane would be shouting, "Shauna, its my time now!"

We'd love to work together again, but I don't know if that's possible now. Even when we did Sweet Panic we would constantly be in fits of giggles when we shared a scene. And not long after that, Jane did this production of Cabaret, at the Donmar Warehouse in London, which I came to see. When she saw me sitting in the audience, she just started laughing; it's probably one of the most unprofessional things I've seen in my life!

'Blood Whispers' by John Gordon Sinclair is out on 5 June, (£12.99, Faber & Faber). Horrocks will star in 'East is East' at the Trafalgar Studios, London SW1, from 4 October (trafalgar-studios.co.uk)