'All actresses worry about their weight, but I've never dieted': Under the microscope with Niamh Cusack

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UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 27 August 2012

The actress, 52, on looking bigger on screen, cycling 16 miles to the National Theatre every day and how she avoids depression

'I get anxious about work, which affects my sleep, but I think I'm all right,' said Niamh Cusack

'I get anxious about work, which affects my sleep, but I think I'm all right,' said Niamh Cusack

DO YOU COME FROM A HEALTHY FAMILY

My father was in rude health and lived to 82. My mother got rheumatic fever at 18, which left her with a badly damaged heart. She was told she’d never have children because her heart couldn’t take it, but she had six (she lost one). She died aged 56, when I was 18.

HOW DID HER POOR HEALTH AFFECT YOU

She had my brother in her mid-40s — and I remember being brought in to say goodbye because the obstetrician said she wouldn’t make it. But she did — she was a devout Catholic and had faith.

ANY FAMILY REMEDIES

My father believed strongly in a cold shower in the morning to get the blood circulating — which I tried, but I’m a bit of a weakling.

WORST ILLNESS

I had asthma as a child, but grew out of it at 11 — I started playing the flute and I think that helped. But the only time I’ve been offstage was when I got a kidney infection in my 20s. I was off for a week and it felt like an eternity.

DO YOU DIET

All actresses worry about their weight, but I’ve never dieted. I’m about 9st and 5ft 6in. Sometimes I see myself on camera and feel despondent. I look bigger on screen, but I’m not prepared to starve myself for it.

GET YOUR FIVE A DAY

Yes. My mother was very aware of healthy eating and I’ve always loved raw vegetables. I nag my son Calum, who’s 17, to do the same.

POP ANY PILLS

When my husband (actor Finbar Lynch) got knocked off his bike and broke his collarbone, the nurse told us about all the supplements you should take after the age of 50 — zinc, magnesium and glucosamine. He’s religious about taking them but I’m constantly buying them and they just sit on the dresser.

'Sometimes I see myself on camera and feel despondent,' said Niamh

'Sometimes I see myself on camera and feel despondent,' said Niamh

WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST VICE

Cheese, the stronger the better, especially blue cheeses. I do notice that if I eat cheese every day, which I would happily do, I put on a bit of weight.

HOW ABOUT EXERCISE

I’ve always been a keen exerciser — I used to run, but now I cycle. I’m cycling to work at the National Theatre — 16 miles there and back. I can’t stand the gym, although I do bikram yoga, which is yoga in a hot room.

EVER BEEN DEPRESSED

No — I get anxious about work, which affects my sleep, but I think I’m all right and pretty funny most of the time. I do talk to my husband, friends and sisters about things that are on my mind.

LIKE TO LIVE FOR EVER

I’d like a good, long life with all my marbles but no, I think you’ve got to leave room for the next generation.

Niamh Cusack is starring in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time at the National Theatre, which will be broadcast live to 160 cinemas around Britain on September 6. Visit ntlive.com.