In appreciation of… Lucy Cohu

The list of actresses whom I love has always been a long one, and one which is ever-increasing, but there’s a select collection at the top, of those performers I consider to be particularly special and who I would do anything to see. At the top of that list is Helen McCrory and she has already been blessed with a weekend of posts about her work and after a series of conversations about who else was on there, I identified Lucy Cohu and Ruth Wilson. Wilson will get her own feature sometime next month but this weekend is all about Cohu. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you when she genuinely first pinged my radar but I’m pretty sure it was in the third series of Torchwood where she broke my heart and captivated me. 

I’ve only seen her on stage three times, yet each one has been a cracker. In Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues, her hypnotic sensuality and flirtatious dancing was a highlight in a quality production and at the Almeida, she more than held her own in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance against heavyweights Penelope Wilton and Imelda Staunton. But it was in Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass at the Tricycle where she really astonished with the kind of performance that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Her stage work has been pretty limited though and so I’ve been glad for her film and TV roles.

I’d already written about her great work in The Queen’s Sister but revisiting the relevant bits of my DVD collection and using the magic of IMDB to identify the rest, I was able to explore a significant chunk of her filmography. From the recent small screen appearances on Ripper Street and Lightfields to her much admired (by me at least) past television work in Ballet Shoes and Torchwood: Children of Earth, with detours into things I hadn’t seen before –Einstein and Eddington, Murderland and Cape Wrath (or Meadowlands) – and also a couple of things that she is literally in for seconds! Gosford Park and Rebecca.

Across her work, it’s hard to identify any real common themes, but what I do see is a complete lack of fear of exposing soul-bearing emotion, a haunting directness that taps into something deep and visceral. She can break my heart with just a look in her eye, but she also has a playful vivaciousness that is impossible to resist and so I’d happily watch her in any genre. So have a read and hopefully you’ll be inspired to watch or rewatch any of the above and allow yourself to be seduced by the allure of someone who I consider to be a most excellent actress indeed.

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