It was not the first time Sally Phillips (star of Miranda, Bridget Jones and lots more) has been to our church, as a friend of the Vicar and his wife she and her family have visited before, but this time it was for ‘An Evening with Sally Phillips’ to launch our next Alpha course. Not one for the limelight personally, she quipped ‘had I known I was coming to an evening with myself I wouldn’t have come!’ She admits that whilst she loves acting and comedy she does not like to be the centre of attention herself. Not that you would have known that last night, she was so warm and engaging, open, honest, and of course very funny. Definitely not a ‘sleb’. In fact she revealed she had even turned down such celebrity gems as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (which the audience agreed unanimously she should do!) and I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here’…
I loved pretty much everything she said last night but one thing that really stood out was when she talked about the pressure on female actors. She talked of an experience in which she had been sent questions for an interview and out of 70 questions, over 50 of them were about diet, looks, fitness regime and so on. It was a delight to hear her say that she refused to bow to those kind of questions (which tend to be the norm for women in the industry), even after several chasing phone calls from one particular newspaper (it’s the one that we all love to hate). She even spoke to the younger female members of the audience to tell them to be strong against that attitude, that society might teach us that women are just a body but it’s not true, you are much more than that. I loved her for that line alone!
She talked about her career of course and gave away a few bits from behind the scenes, such as lunches with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth on the set of Bridget Jones (jealous? much…) and on leaving the trailer after lunch saying ‘thanks for having me in your trailer..’ cue much laughter… Did you know that she actually auditioned for the part of Bridget? when at the time her life was actually much like that of Bridget herself, and she lived in Notting Hill. Although she did say she when people told her she was like Bridget Jones she thought it was a bit of an insult! In one of her more recent roles – in Miranda – she joked that Miranda farts on set a lot and apparently the conversations behind the scenes of Miranda often revolve around the latest Strictly gossip. She also revealed that audiences for Miranda can be so hysterical that they actually have to remove the real laughter from the film and add canned laughter instead!
Of course she was actually there to help us launch Alpha and so she also talked about her faith too. Sally was brought up without any Christian input at home, but came to faith after a scary spiritual experience when she began getting nightmares which she said were terrifying. It was on a morning at work when she went in and revealed to a fellow actor – a Christian – that she had been having these nightmares, he prayed and they stopped immediately. After this she did an Alpha course and came to faith. She talked really openly about her faith and how she prays at work – so if you are ever in the audience of Miranda you can be sure she has prayed for you..! But she also talked about some hard stuff too. Her oldest son was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome after he was born and she admitted how hard this was in relation to her faith, as she said, I thought, I keep my side of it, I love you God, I worship you, I pray, I tell people about you, and you keep me and my family safe… Although as she said, she did realise this was not how it worked and this attitude completely ignores what Jesus did for us. She said she found it so tough that she even decided to be an atheist again for a while. Although the trouble with that was that she realised God was still there and so she couldn’t ignore him even if she wanted to. Clearly a difficult thing to talk about but she did so with such love, humility and honesty, and I think we were all touched by it. And by the way, one thing she did say was, don’t ever ask someone who has a child with Downs Syndrome if they knew when they were pregnant. She said whatever reason you ask, the parent will hear it as ‘would you have aborted had you known?’.
Not just an actor, Sally writes a lot too and has just seen a ‘short’ (or short film) ‘rain’ published in Sweden (we had a sneak preview), and she is in the process of writing a new series. In demand as an actor, she said since she seriously took up comedy she has never had to work doing anything else, but she clearly also loves being a mum and so spends more time writing these days to give her more freedom to be with her family.
I expected Sally to be funny, what I didn’t expect was such humility and integrity. This woman is a role model to so many young women, and what a great example she is too…
Lucy MillsJanuary 27, 2014 at 3:50 pm
Sounds like a great evening 🙂