First Impressions: Rita Tushingham
Born in Liverpool, actress Rita Tushingham was part of the British New Wave in cinema, making her debut in A Taste Of Honey in 1961. She has since appeared in more than 60 films, and is an activist for breast cancer health and support.
What are you working on at the moment?
There's a project that I think will probably go out at the end of the year. There's also a film coming out called The Wee Man, and a film I made about 18 months ago, called Seamonsters, is going to be released soon on HBO.
When were you at your happiest?
I can't say. If I say something was my happiest then its only downhill, isn't it? I think, take each day as it comes.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing your loved ones.
What is your earliest memory?
Doing naughty things as a child. And I remember at the end of the war looking out of our house in Liverpool and seeing the celebration bonfires. I remember that clearly.
Who has been your greatest influence?
That's difficult, because there are quite a lot of people. If you mention a couple then you're missing out someone. I'm impressed by scientists who find cures and have done so much to help people with illnesses. They endlessly, tirelessly go on to find cures for what were once incurable diseases. To me, that is quite inspiring.
What do you most dislike about yourself?
I think I'm too quick to judge.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
I can't bear it when people are rude.
Do you have a fantasy address?
I loved living by the sea when I lived in Cornwall. I'd like to live by the sea and right in the heart of the country, with the quietness and stillness of everything.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
At my age, you've got over the dislike and you're glad that you can just pull it all together.
What is your all-time favourite book?
I love Daphne du Maurier stories. I like the darker stories.
What is your favourite film?
I loved The Innocents. A stunning, stunning film. It's beautifully photographed, beautifully directed and beautifully acted.
What is your favourite record or piece of music?
Brahms Double Concerto.
What is your favourite meal?
I love pasta with sauces and things, and desserts – anything sweet and lovely. I like chocolate soufflé and mousse, and trifle – I make a really good trifle. I haven't made one for ages – it takes me back to Boxing Day when I was a child, and all the family would sit down and have a lovely sort of lunch and then trifle with sixpences in it. Of course, I couldn't do that now, with health and safety.
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
I think a very interesting man would be Kofi Annan because of all he's seen, done, and all the things he's been involved with. And Lord Winston would be fascinating.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
I was at a film festival with my darling friend. I had just done my first film and they were looking for an unknown, plain actress. This person said, 'Isn't that the ugliest person in the world?' It didn't affect me, but I suppose that's the kind of thing that if people said it now, they'd be sued. You can't let it affect you – it's in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? That's why I don't read reviews: one is good and the next one is bad. It's the bad ones you remember.
Do you believe in aliens?
I think there is something out there, but I don't know what it is because I'm quite a superstitious person. I believe that there are fairies. If I see a toadstool or a mushroom I put a sweet under it, go round it three times and make a wish. I'm terrible with magpies! I try not to see them, especially if I'm taking a fl ight. The thing is, they're always just near Heathrow.
What is your secret vice?
I'm absolutely a mad football fan, I love it with a passion. I support Liverpool – they are the best team, of course.
Do you write thankyou notes?
Yes, of course I do. Absolutely.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
What would you like your epitaph to say?
'She put a smile on people's faces' – which I hope I do. I'm sitting looking at my beautiful little granddaughter and she's putting a smile on my face.
Outside Bet, Rita Tushingham's most recent film, is out now on DVD, priced £9.99, and The Wee Man is on general release later this year.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"BE careful with your mouth make-up. By careless work you may obliterate well-cut lines, and you will always achieve a badly groomed look if your lipstick is smudged and badly applied."The Lady, Make-Up for Mouths, 8th January, 1942