Thursday, 10 February 2011

15 minutes with Danielle Lineker

Calm down it's not that kind of 15 minutes - she's a married woman for God's sake.  I met Danielle at a photo shoot a few weeks ago and I thought she was cool - friendly and unaffected.  So I asked her PR if I could interview her.  For those of you who don't read the tabloids, Danielle's surname was once Bux and she was a model.  Then she met and married Gary Lineker, who, before he was on Match of the Day, used to score the odd goal for England and mopped up Gazza's tears when he cried.  Now it has to be said, Danielle is pretty easy on the eye.  The paparazzi, noticing this, started training their long lenses on Gary and Danielle when they went on holiday.  From there it was only a hop and a skip to coming third in 'Hell's Kitchen', presenting a show on step-families for the Beeb and apparently guesting on 'Loose Women' (although I never get to see that as I'm always at work).    Now she's jumped into acting, currently touring in 'Calendar Girls', the stage play about the Yorkshire WI women who stripped off for a charity calendar.  She gave me a ring on a Friday night and we ended up talking about the buzz of acting, fame, booby dresses and Shakespeare.

-So how's it going?
I don't think my first night was the finest performance I've ever done in my life but...Gary's looking at me as if to say 'Dont talk shit'!

-When we met before I asked you how you would feel about speaking in front of a crowd.
I was nervous but the girls have been great. Jennifer Ellison, Lisa Riley and Bernie Nolan have been like sisters to me throughout the tour. They've been looking after me and suggesting that I try this or try that. You worry when you walk into a group of girls and you're the new girl but they've been really welcoming.  We were all nervous - even these girls who have been out there doing it for 10 years were nervous as well. Lisa gave me some Kalms for the nerves but I think you've just got to get out there and get through your first night.  Performing in front of an audience was a real buzz and I think that's what people get addicted to.

-So a lot of adrenalin going on?
Absolutely. It's very intoxicating.

-In the Calendar Girls film there's a lot of trepidation about stripping off in front of the photographer. Do you have to do that onstage?
My part is the only character who keeps her clothes on. I don't think I could have dealt with that, being naked on my stage debut, no way.

-What made you want to act?
Its been a feeling since I was six years old. I was always performing as a kid and then I got to my teenage years and I got alopecia and completely lost my confidence, got very introverted and shy and that's what held me back.  I loved all the musicals, Mary Poppins, the Wizard of Oz, Annie. One of my fondest memories is dancing round my living room with my brothers and sisters and then I always loved Drama and English literature as a teenager. I was 16 when I lost my hair and it was about a year before it grew back. I got to about 28 and so many people had said to me that I should do it..(stops to talk to Joe McGann, who's walked into her dressing room)

-Do you have a favourite actor?
I tell you who I think is really good, Vincent Cassell who is in Black Swan at the moment. I think he's fantastic.

-I saw it the other night, it scared the bejesus out of me.
I know everybody's going on about that but I thought it got a bit ridiculous when she was growing feathers. It's great but when she looked in the mirror and the feathers started growing out of her arms I just thought 'Oh come on!' I thought it got a bit ridiculous then. It's shot beautifully though. Natalie Portman is one of my favourites too. She plays it well.

-You haven't had any freaky hallucinations while appearing in Calendar Girls?
No, I've had dreams where I forget my lines and can't speak on stage. It wakes me up. For about a week I kept dreaming I was stood on the stage and couldn't speak.

-You've been in the show for a couple of weeks now so is it becoming easier?
The first couple of shows I just wasn't present on stage and now there are times when I'm really enjoying it and I'm, oh I hate to say 'In the Moment' because it sound actor-y and wanky but there are times when I know I'm completely in the moment and that's when you get the buzz of performing live. I'm hoping that the more I perform that'll happen for more than a moment or a minute and it'll be for the whole time I'm on stage.

-The WI ladies had a taste of fame so I wondered how you felt about it.
For me, its weird, I don't see myself as a famous person, I'm just married to someone who is very famous. There are obviously lots of advantages. I know I wouldn't be in this play if I wasn't Gary's wife. There are lots of things I'm thankful for. The modelling contract with La Senza came as a result of me being photographed in Barbados with Gary. I find it hard to look on the bad side. You get the press intrusion but you learn how to deal with it.

-Is it scary when you come out of restaurant and you've got a bunch of photographers waiting for you?
Completely and I was very naïve. People might believe me or not but when I first met I knew he was a footballer so because of the celebrity side to it, I wasn't sure about dating him.

-Had you thought about the level of press intrusion there might be?
Absolutely not. Once we'd got pictured together it was like 'Oh My God what's happened to my life?' The intrusion was everywhere, people I went to school were approached by journalists, people tried to see my brother in hospital saying they work for the Mirror or the Mail – they didn't, they were just freelancers trying it on, trying to talk to nurses to get stories. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat and went to the doctors in the end to give me something to help me out. I knew he was a footballer, I knew there would be some interest but nothing like the interest that there was.

-Did it ever make you think 'Is it worth it'?
I remember Gary coming to see me just after we'd been pictured in the News of the World and I told him 'I can't understand this, its not like you're Brad Pitt or anything'! I knew he was really special but there were times when I thought I couldn't handle the celebrity side of it.   He's had it for a long time so he just helped me through it. If the relationship hadn't had been as strong as it is, you probably would split up in that early stage because its really difficult.

-So in a way it reaffirmed that the relationship was a good one?
It did yeah.

-When you went out in 'that dress' did you think that you might see yourself in a few of the papers?
No. We were getting ready to go out. The dress was really draped and you couldn't see much. I asked Gary if it was ok, it wasn't booby - I wasn't going to go out with my boobs out with his son and all his best friends! We drank so much as it was his 50th birthday and I think throughout the night the corset underneath had slipped and the drape of the dress had gone down. I remember I was so concerned about not appearing drunk I hadn't even thought about the dress.

-You looked pretty together but Mr Lineker looked like he'd had a few.
Well it was his 50th...

-Do you hope being in 'Calendar Girls' might lead to other things?
I'd love to do some more theatre, some Shakespeare, like Portia in Julius Caesar.

-That sounds like quite a heavyweight role.
It is. I've had two years of training and my coach was very classical.  My Director in Calendar Girls has said to me 'You're so serious Danielle, you need to lighten up.' It's the way I've been taught, Stanislavski method, so I'd love to put some of that training into practice.
(In Stanislavski's system, actors deeply analyse the motivations and emotions of their characters in order to personify them with psychological realism and emotional authenticity). It's very difficult in the acting world. I think people would look at me and say 'Oh she's a bit commercial'.

-It would be a very unexpected move for you and in a way, the knives would be out – you'd be up for that kind of challenge would you?
Yeah. The part that I'm doing at the moment is comedy and I think making people laugh is harder. I would love to do a Shakespeare part.

-You should get your PR to have a word in someone's ear.
They'd say (adopts luvvie type voice) 'I don't bloody think so! DANIELLE BLOODY LINEKER!'

And with that, I left her to it. The usual tabloid story for celebrities in this country is, if you can't find any dirt on them at the beginning (and with Danielle, the hacks came up short), build them up, then knock 'em down.  Pretty sure that Danielle has that sussed, which is why it was surprising when she said she wanted to do Shakespeare - it proves she's ready for whatever criticism comes her way and I liked her for that. 

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