Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones reveals how she became ‘crippled with anxiety’ before dramatic collapse on West End stage
- Jones withdrew from Frozen where she played the mother of a murdered girl
- The actress was suffering following her mother’s death and bringing up her son
- She stars in new BBC1 drama Gentleman Jack from next Sunday
Doctor Foster’s Suranne Jones has revealed how anxiety caused her to dramatically collapse during a play
Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones has revealed how she became crippled with anxiety before dramatically collapsing during a West End play.
The actress had to withdraw from Frozen, a harrowing story in which she played the mother of a murdered girl, after the backstage incident.
It was initially attributed to illness and the ‘deeply affecting’ subject matter of the play, which explores child abuse.
But now the star has told how her mother’s death after suffering dementia, the pressures of bringing up a young son and a punishing work schedule all took their toll.
‘I’m really good at compartmentalising. Building up resilience,’ she said. ‘And I probably did that too much. Put all the bad stuff to one side, and worked and worked and worked.’
Recalling her mounting anxiety before her collapse at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, she added: ‘I’d been feeling edgy. Nervous around people. Not being able to converse properly. Not being able to get my points across.
‘And being in the theatre didn’t help. I don’t think theatre was the cause, but I think it heightened it.
‘You’ve a 1,000-seater full of people staring at you. And when you feel the anxiety, breathlessness, it’s just drilling right into your solar plexus and you think, f***. This is something I can’t stop, not once the show’s started.’
The respected actress was playing a mother of a murdered girl in the play Frozen (pictured) when she collapsed backstage
The 40-year-old actress, whose real name is Sarah, lost her mum to vascular dementia just months after giving birth to her first child in 2016.
She told the The Guardian’s Weekend magazine that she ignored doctor’s advice to stop working because she ‘didn’t want to be a headline’.
Instead, she said: ‘You try to resist what’s happening. Keep working. Keep doing the trick of going round as Suranne not Sarah. And in the end something gives. I think that’s what happened.’
She took a year off work during which she took up yoga, had therapy and quit Instagram.
Even when she was invited to audition for Gentleman Jack, the primetime BBC1 drama that begins next Sunday, she was unsure that she wanted to return to work, but was convinced to do so by the show’s writer, Sally Wainwright.
Jones is about to appear on our screens again in the role of Anne Lister alongside Peaky Blinders star Sophie Rundle in Gentleman Jack
In it, Jones plays Anne Lister, a 19th Century Yorkshire landowner who used a special code to detail her lesbian exploits in a diary.
‘Anne was an amazing woman, so full of life and energy and positivity. It rubbed off,’ said Jones, who rose to prominence as Karen McDonald in Coronation Street.
In a separate interview, she said she developed an instant connection with Peaky Blinders star Sophie Rundle, who plays her on-screen lover. ‘When Sophie was cast, I knew straight away, ‘That’s my girl,’ ‘ she told The Sun.
Jones’s return to work includes another series of the Sky Atlantic murder drama Save Me, which she will shoot in the autumn.
But she notes: ‘With every new job now I’ll consider the psychological side, I think. The content, which maybe I didn’t do before. I’ll need to know that I can live in that place.’
However, she remains cautious about a return to the stage. ‘Go back to emotionally draining myself in a very dark auditorium? Probably not yet,’ she said.
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