redemption Paula Malcomson says it was 'an honour' to film Redemption in Dublin
"I left Belfast at 21 and Hollywood has been good to me"
LOOKING at the resume for Belfast-born actress Paula Malcomson, it’s easy to see why many people think she’s American.
Since she left Ireland in 1991 to live Stateside, the 52-year-old has starred in a jaw-dropping number of TV series, ranging from playing Abby Donovan in Ray Donovan, Maureen Ashby in Sons of Anarchy, Colleen Pickett in Lost and Meg Riley in E.R.
Not to mention her noteworthy appearance in the Hunger Games movies in which she was Katniss’ mother — played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has topped the charts as the highest paid actress in Hollywood.
Paula is now back in the Emerald Isle, starring as DI Colette Cunningham in the Dublin-based crime series Redemption.
“I live in LA, There’s home and then there’s home. That’s been home for a long time. It’s been very good to me,” she points out.
“I left Ireland at 21 to go to New York. Before that I went touring around Europe. I wasn’t even a student when I was a student.
When Magazine+ visited the set of Redemption in April last year it was at the height of one of the lockdowns, with strict Covid procedures in place.
“I was staying in a flat above where Brendan Behan used to live, (Patrick) Kavanagh was across the street. Having those voices in my head as I worked on this was tremendous, it was such an honour to be in Dublin,” she tells us.
“There was nothing else to do but live in your own bubble, I was so busy, There was no time for anything. I was trying to learn lines for the next day and it was nonstop, and trying to get ahead of script.”
The drama introduces plain-speaking, no-nonsense DI Colette Cunningham, whose fearless approach to policing has earned her the respect of her Merseyside Police Serious Crime Squad colleagues as she’s making a collar.
“The first few scenes we see her on a stakeout, in an interrogation, making a collar. It’s her birthday, she has a lot to celebrate and then everything is turned upside down in that moment,” she explains.
Colette is unflappable and an absolute force of nature, until she takes a call from Garda Sergeant Luke Byrne from a Dublin police station. The body of a young woman has been found and Colette is listed as the next of kin.
The name of the victim means nothing to Colette so she continues to efficiently go about her day job.
Persisting with his enquiry, the young officer calls again and begins to describe the young woman rendering Colette speechless. She takes the next ferry to Dublin to identify the body of her missing daughter, Kate.
It turns out Kate left home 20 years ago aged 16, and clearly didn’t want to be found as she changed her name to Stacey Lockey. Colette finds out that while she’s lost her daughter she’s gained two teenage grandchildren, brilliantly played by Abby Fitz (Cara) and Evan O’Connor (Liam).
Among the ethnically diverse cast –—which includes a Chinese woman and black man playing prominent Garda roles with Irish accents — Paula also got to work side by side with the likes of Moe Dunford, Keith McErlean and Siobhán McSweeney.
“I love her in Derry Girls and they don’t bang on about the Troubles, which is what I love. It is beautifully woven into it, they are walking up the hill and you’d see the British Army hanging around, and then peace breaks out at the end of the second season. I think the writing is magnificent.
“Siobhán is absolutely brilliant. We’d have to do things like tighten up on the camera because I was laughing so hard with her, I was very naughty.”
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