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Mind Games Irish actor Denise Gough thrilled to star in Virgin Media thriller Too Close

The drama sees Connie Mortenson, played by Gough, in a psychiatric unit after driving her car off a bridge with her daughter and a young friend in the back seat.


Denise Gough (Chris Floyd)

Denise Gough (Chris Floyd)

Denise Gough (Chris Floyd)

Irish actor Denise Gough said she was thrilled to star in psychological thriller Too Close because it highlights mental health issues.

The award-winning Co Clare woman plays opposite renowned British star Emily Watson in the three-part drama which begins on Virgin Media One tonight.

The story follows the dangerous mind games played between a mother accused of trying to kill her own child and the psychiatrist trying to find out why she did it.

“I remember reading the script and thinking, ‘This is fantastic. It’s totally up my street,’ said Colette star Gough (41).

“I knew it would be something I could get my teeth into. I also knew Emily Watson was involved.


Denise Gough

Denise Gough

Denise Gough

“You want to be part of anything she is signed up to. The story of these two women circling each other the way they do was really interesting to me.”

The drama sees Connie Mortenson, played by Gough, in a psychiatric unit after driving her car off a bridge with her daughter and a young friend in the back seat.

“Emily Watson plays the forensic psychiatrist Emma Robertson who has the job of trying to figure out why Connie did what she did,” says Gough.

“You see Connie and Emma in the psychiatric unit, but you also see Connie's life leading up to her driving the car off the bridge.

“She had a stable marriage, raising her children, maybe a little bit disillusioned. And then you have to watch it to see why.”

Connie claims she can't remember the accident and the psychiatrist is trying to establish if she is suffering from dissociative amnesia.

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“When a traumatic event happens in a person's life we have an extraordinary capability as human beings to separate ourselves from it until we are ready to see it,” says Gough.

“It’s like a deep state denial. We can push down things in order to function.

“In this story we have a mother who is told she has essentially tried to kill her daughter and another child.

“And having studied it, I believe totally in dissociative amnesia. It’s a way to protect oneself from dealing with the reality of your situation.

“We are all on the precipice. There’s a line in Too Close which asks, ‘Why aren't the streets full of wrecked people?’

“That was the line that really hit me when I first read the script. It’s so heartbreaking to be somebody who feels like that.

“Mental health issues have been further highlighted by the pandemic. Everyone is doing their best. But we can do so much better.

“The relationship between Connie and Emma in Too Close shows the amount of healing that can happen by actually sitting and talking through things and taking responsibility. As opposed to hiding from things.

“What Emma does is deeply compassionate. She goes above and beyond - a woman who decides to put herself on the line to help another woman out.

“Too Close also says a lot about how mental health is dealt with. Asking questions about what leads a person to do what they have done. We treat a lot of symptoms in our society and we need to investigate the causes.

“Treating what is underneath that. We need a lot of healing for people who have come from trauma.

“You scratch the surface of addicts, for example, and you will find some sadness there. You will find something that broke. Something that led to this.

“We’ve got to look after each other. Not least with people's mental health. At a certain point you can crack.”

Gough, who worked with Watson before on Apple Tree Yard, said it was a joy to reunite with the English actress who was nominated for two Oscars, for Breaking the Waves and Hillary and Jackie.

“She is all encompassing. Emily throws herself at it, and I want to work with people like that…where you get to operate opposite people who make you better.”

Gough, one of 12 children born to an Ennis family, shot to fame in 2016 when she beat Nicole Kidman for the first of her two Olivier Awards playing an addict in the play, People, Places & Things.

She had been on the point of giving up acting at 35 after being out of work for 13 months and had started teaching.

But the play at London’s National Theatre changed everything and she went on to win another Olivier Award in 2018 for Angels in America, along with a Tony.

She starred in BBC thriller series Paula, written by Conor McPherson, in which she played a rape victim who extracts a truly terrifying revenge on her attacker.

  • Too Close starts on Virgin Media One tonight (Monday) at 9pm

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