For a character actor like Vicky McClure, authenticity is the ultimate currency. It is why she won a Bafta for playing sexual abuse survivor Lol in This Is England ’86 and why her character, the compelling DS Kate Fleming, helped the latest season of Line of Duty earn the highest viewer numbers of the year so far.
But being real isn’t something the 36-year-old struggles with, having chosen to eschew London for a home in her native Nottingham, where she’s surrounded by the grounding presence of her friends, family and fiancé, producer Jonny Owen.
Do you like getting glammed up for the red carpet?
I often do my own hair and make-up. But occasionally I have a full team of people working with me and it is nice when a professional does it for you. I don’t mind that because it’s a rarity.
Do you feel confident in public?
I’m not too hung up on what people think of me, to be honest. Last night, for example, I wore a stripy jumpsuit. I knew it would attract comments such as it looks like a deckchair, a barcode, a zebra crossing, but I just don’t care. The truth of it is, trolls write their insults down then move on to the next person. You have to ignore it.
You seem so together. What’s your secret?
It’s not because I’m cocky. I think it’s because I have great people around me – Jonny, my family, my old friends – and they all have my back. They’ve seen me at my best and worst. It means I’m not pining for reassurance. I don’t need approval from outside my group of friends.
What do you do for self-care?
I spend time chilling with my two nephews who live spitting distance from me. I don’t have my own children, but I’m like a second mum to my sister’s boys. There’s no love like it: I’d literally die for them. They are my escapism, I guess.
How do you feel about ageing?
Because I’m an actor, I don’t think it’s right to have surgery. Your wrinkles are what they are; when you cry you look ugly. But I am 36. My skin is not what it used to be. I have lines around my eyes. I get those annoying milk spots. So I’m at a point where I need to look after my skin. Any anti-wrinkle cream therefore can only be a good thing.
Your hair is your signature look. Have you always had it short?
No! When I was cast at 21 in This Is England, my hair was so long I could sit on it. I went from that to Lol’s shaved head. But now I love it short, and play with different looks and colours, but I do like it to look messy and lived in.
Do you have any beauty regrets?
When I was younger I had beautiful eyebrows like Cara Delevingne’s, but I was told you have to pluck them to smithereens, which I did. But as we all now know, they don’t grow back properly, so I’m forever filling in my eyebrows, even if I’m just popping out to buy a pint of milk.
Did your mum give you any beauty advice?
She told me not to pluck my eyebrows. I didn’t listen and she was absolutely mortified. She was right, of course. She’s always bloody right.
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