With the second season of Flaked airing on Netflix, Irish actress Ruth Kearney is on track to becoming a household name. Ruth Doris reports.
Currently appearing in the Netflix series Flaked, opposite Arrested Development’s Will Arnett, actress Ruth Kearney’s star is certainly on the rise. Born in London, Ruth’s Irish parents moved the family back home to Dublin when she was five years old.
Her passion for performing, which she discovered at a young age, led to a degree in drama at Trinity College, before she returned to the U.K. where she attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; the prestigious institution which boasts alumni as Daniel Day-Lewis, Miranda Richardson, Jeremy Irons and Sir Patrick Stewart.
A testament to her versatility, Ruth transitioned seamlessly to television from drama school; winning the role of Jess Parker in ITV’s sci-fi drama, Primeval, just after graduation.Since then her talents have taken her to the US where she has starred in a number of American television shows, including Fox’s The Following, alongside Hollywood veteran, Kevin Bacon.
It was just after filming had wrapped on The Following that Ruth was invited to L.A. to audition for a lead role in a new Netflix comedy series.The result of a creative collaboration between two of the brains behind comedy classic Arrested Development, Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett, Flaked is set in Venice Beach, California, and centres around the exploits of recovering alcoholic and self-help guru, Chip (Arnett).
The 28-year-old plays London, a waitress from out-of-town who unknowingly becomes the centre of a love triangle between Chip and his best friend, Dennis (David Sullivan).Initially appearing as just another two-dimensional love interest for a damaged, yet interesting male lead, London, as the series unfolds, becomes a refreshingly complex and multilayered character.
Thanks to the success of the first series, Flaked has been renewed for a second season, so Ruth is back on our screens for the cult hit. In the meantime, we catch up with Ruth in LA to discuss the biz, Flaked, and why she can’t quite commit to L.A.Growing up in Ireland, Ruth’s earliest memories are of long family walks on Seapoint beach when the tide would be out for miles.
‘We’d always have trouble getting our dog back as he chased after seagulls. I was so lucky to grow up by the sea and I really appreciate that now living in London.’ It would seem that Ruth was always destined for the spotlight. As a child she says she loved performing. ‘My sisters and I would put on plays at home, and embarrassingly charge our neighbours to come and watch.
Her big break came in 2007 with a role in ITV sci-fi series Primeval. Describing what it was like to go from being a struggling actor to working on a prime time show, Ruth says she felt ‘unbelievably lucky’ when she landed the role.
‘I was out of drama school for less than a year and experiencing how hard it was to live in London, trying to pay rent from waitressing and other part-time jobs. It was a brilliant first acting gig, such a lovely group of people to work with and it shot in Dublin which was so nice.”
While she hasn’t yet made the full move to the States – when filming is over on Flaked she heads back to London – Ruth says: ‘I’ve been very lucky in that for the last couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to work out here and then I go back to London where I spend the rest of the year.
It would be hard to fully move here as I would find it hard being so far from my family.’Audition is a gruelling process, especially during pilot season. So how does Ruth deal with the endless rejection?
Auditioning can be really tough, she agrees. ‘But it’s important to remember that it’s all part of the job. I’m actually much happier if I’m busy with lots of auditions even if I don’t get any of the parts. It feels like at least there is the chance that you might be right for something. When it goes quiet and no auditions come through, that’s when it’s hard.
Ruth, who has said that shooting Flaked was like shooting an indie film, was grabbed by the script from the start. Describing the show as ‘quirky’, Ruth says: ‘I loved the vibe of the script, it felt very real in the way it was written and all of the characters felt like fully rounded people. I could totally picture this world.’
Ruth plays the part of a beautiful waitress called (rather aptly) London, who – a far cry from her dinosaur-geek brunette Jess Parker character in Primeval or serial killer Daisy Locke in The Following – with her blonde locks and boho Californian style, catches the eye of charming mid-life layabout Chip (Arnett) and his earnest friend Dennis (David Sullivan).So what did she think of London as a character?
‘London was such an interesting part to get to play. She has so many levels to her, her back story and reasons for being in Venice gave her such complexities it allowed me to have lots of fun’.
While she found it strange to be cast as the ‘hot girl’ in the series, the character is more complex than that.‘She is the girl that comes between two friends’, Ruth says.‘I really felt that she wasn’t in control of her actions… she finds herself in the place where her brother had died in car accident years before, and falling in love with the man who she believes was behind it. These factors created so many layers for me to delve into as an actress.’
So what can viewers expect in the much-anticipated second season?‘There is so much in the new season that I’m excited for, London gets to really come into her own, you find out more about her life and background and realise she’s just as flawed as Chip.’
Flaked is more than a run-of-the-mill romcom; Ruth describes the series as ‘a study of human life and behaviour.’ She says:
‘I feel like the show is really looking into how people put forward a projection of who they think they are and what they think society and the people around them want. and then slowly the authenticity eventually comes through, this is what I think the show deals with so beautifully.’
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Ruth says she admires actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep for highlighting inequality in pay between male and female actors.
It’s difficult enough to build a career in the industry as a woman. Of course, pay scale is always fluid, but when you realise you are being paid less, simply for being female, it’s shocking, frustrating and highlights the sexist culture which is rife within this business. Things are slowly changing, and I definitely feel the more public the debate is, the better.
Film-making is a tough business for young actresses, and for actresses over the age of 40 it is even harder to find roles, as they become too old to play the parts that Hollywood traditionally writes for women. Commenting on the perceived lack of roles for older actresses.
Ruth says: ‘It’s not always that there is a lack of parts for females, but more the question whether they are as interesting or complex as the male counterparts.I feel like we are seeing a movement within the industry of established actresses taking over parts that were originally written with a male protagonist in mind.’
Citing examples such as Charlize Theron in Mad Max and the remake of both the Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Thirteen franchise, Ruth says: ‘It’s a sign of the times that actresses are no longer satisfied taking the more supportive roles of “girlfriend” or “mother”.’
Living and working in a size-obsessed environment, Ruth acknowledges that there is pressure within the industry to look good. However, she says staying in shape is something she wants for herself. Being a ‘massive foodie’, she hates having to restrict what she eats, so she makes sure she finds enjoyable and effective ways of exercising.
‘I’m not much of a jogger, so I definitely have a preference for classes. I love spinning and anything danced-based. It’s pretty easy when I’m in LA as there are an abundance of options. I join ClassPass so I can try out lots of different studios.’
With her pretty good looks, and abundant talent Ruth Kearney is on the up. No doubt her star will continue to rise.
Ruth Kearney was shot on location in Hollywood exclusivley for Magpie.ie
Check out this preview for the second series of Flaked here: