PASADENA, Calif. -- Actress Miranda Richardson used to pretend she was a terrible actress. For a woman who went on to earn two Academy Award nominations, that may seem weird. But the determined Brit had good reason.
"I remember going to what they called 'elocution' classes. I think my mom was terrified that I would pick up her very broad accent because of where we were living and because I was a mimic," she says.
She found she was good at reciting poems and stories in front of the class. "The only thing I wondered about was everybody else was playing outside because we had to do these classes in the lunch hour," she recalls.
"And I was really cross about that. I tried to get out of it. I tried to do acting badly to get out of it, and the teacher got so annoyed with me because she knew I was pretending to be BAD. I remember her taking me aside and giving me a sort of mental shake saying, 'Stop it! Stop it now.' Because I was just being perverse.
"I just thought, 'I don't want to do this anymore. It's stupid. I want to be out in the sunshine.' It probably saved my skin, choosing elocution. I won loads of exams and medals and stuff like that, but to what end?"
The end, it turns out, is a lifetime of memorable performances with Richardson playing everything from England's last executed murderess to the "fake news" journalist in two "Harry Potter" films.
Not only is she known for her dramatic performances in films like "The Crying Game" and "Tom & Viv," she's also keen on comedy. Her latest, "Girlfriends," lodges Richardson with Phyllis Logan and Zoe Wanamaker as three pals who suffer mid-life crises when they encounter life-altering dilemmas. Richardson's character not only loses her job and her marriage, but she faces the most shattering experience of all -- another birthday. The six-part dramedy begins streaming on AcornTV today, with weekly episodes on Mondays.
It wasn't until secondary school that Richardson began to warm to performing. Because she attended a girls' school, she found herself playing all the guys' parts in the Shakespeare they were studying. In fact, she played both Antony AND Cleopatra in one of the school productions.
In spite of her success, the blonde actress admits she prefers the road less traveled. "Sometimes I will choose the underdog rather than the heroic kind of thing because I'm more interested in what makes that person tick than somebody else," says Richardson.
Still, she often vacillates about choices and wishes she didn't. "I would like to not be so watchful. I would like to be less of an observer, even though it's necessary for the job. I'd be more 'get in there and do it.' And I think that the choices I've made so far may look like that's what I do -- get in there and get on with it -- and I do do it, to an extent. But I'd like less mental havering. People can lose courage. If they have a great idea, I think the accentuate-the-positive is not a bad thing. I can be too analytical about that," she says.