THE movie ‘Philomena’ has proved to be a box office hit – not least at Enniskillen Omniplex – and one Fermanagh actress had the pleasure of being part of the harrowing true story of a young woman who searches for her adopted son.
Rachel Wilcock, originally from Letterbreen was a student at Collegiate Grammar School before graduating from Webber Douglas Drama School in 2005 and moving to London to pursue her career.
In her first feature film Rachel played, in her own words a ‘small role’, but told the Herald it was a truly unforgettable experience.
“I played the character of a young girl named Maimie, described in the script as ‘a fallen girl’.
“She is one of the friends of the ‘Young Philomena’ in the film, they all live in the convent and get to visit their children for an hour after chores.
“I was on set for a week at the beginning of January, filming took place in Oxford where all our flashback convent scenes were filmed.”
When asked what it was like to be on set with such an illustrious cast, including Judi Dench and Steve Coogan Rachel said it was ‘fabulous’.
“Having toured for many years, I have spent many an hour off stage shifting the stage and setting up, before warming up and heading on stage.
“This was a complete change. I was given my own driver who collected me and dropped me to my door every day and my own trailer.
“Runners would greet me in the morning and ask me what I’d like for breakfast.
“On arrival one morning I stepped out of the car into the rain ( something a Fermanagh girl doesn’t shy away from) and was greeted with a runner holding an umbrella over my head.
“At that point I had to check that he did know that I was not Judi Dench, merely a small part in this huge film, but he just smiled and carried on.
“The detail of design on set was amazing, a team of set designers turned an empty attic barn room into a fully functioning laundry room with hot water and steam everywhere.
“Philomena herself was on set a few times and it was a privilege to be part of telling a story, based on a real woman and her real experiences.”
Has she had adoring fans come up to in the street praising her for her performance? Not just yet, but there is no denying that the role is a fantastic project to add to her professional CV.
“I am literally on screen for less than a minute in the whole film, but I’ve had some lovely texts and messages from people all over saying they’d just sat down to watch this great film and there I was.
“I have had to remind rather excited relatives that I am a small part in this intricate film about a lady and her search for her son.”
Already working eight years professionally Rachel has spent three years with the Riding Lights Theatre Company, and has won a Best Supporting Actress award for her part in the 168 Film Project and performed in the Old Vic 24 Hour Plays last October. As for the future the Fermanagh actress just wants to continue pursuing her passions.
“I hope that whatever work I find myself in the future involves my love of people and theatre.”
She added: “I have been blessed in my career to date – touring, devising, working with and for great theatre companies, experiencing filming and theatre, the joy of the ‘You got the job’ phonecall and the pain of the ‘Not this time’, and the occasional humiliation of a commercial casting.”
Philomena is currently showing at Enniskillen Omniplex and Bundoran Cineplex.
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