Jane Horrocks: ‘Am I happy? I don’t think so, no. Sorry'

The actor, 54, on youthful pratfalls, Lancashire people and the power of music

I’m a happier person when I’m making people laugh. It’s always nice to do comedy, because you’re uplifting people. I go in phases where I end up doing a lot of doom and gloom and then a lot of comedy. I get fed up of one and go back to the other. But comedy makes me feel a lot better, psychologically. If you’re making people laugh, it’s much, much nicer than making people cry.

I was rebellious as a teenager. I was of the post-punk era, new romantic, where people did dress strangely, to annoy their parents. It’s very difficult now for the younger generation. There’s very little to rail against, because parents go: “We like that, too! We like festivals! We want to go with you!”

I feel like I’m done with Bubble [her character in Absolutely Fabulous]. Pratfalls feel a bit like something I did in my 20s and 30s. It doesn’t quite sit as comfortably, now I’m of an older age.

I’d have seen myself as a socialist when I was younger, but I’m indifferent to politics now. I got into it when I was doing Life Is Sweet, because my character was so anti-Thatcher. I went to Socialist Worker meetings.

My son is 21 and my daughter’s 19. My biggest pleasure is that my children don’t do what I do, and they don’t do what my partner does. That is a great accolade.

My partner is a writer and an actor. I think perhaps if you were with somebody who wasn’t connected in some way with this business, then it would be harder for them to understand the world.

Joy Division were massive heroes of mine. Soft Cell, Human League, Gang of Four. I did this show at the Young Vic two years ago [If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me] where I performed the songs of Morrissey, Robert Smith, the Buzzcocks. Northern male bands, that’s who I love.

I don’t like seeing plays any more. After 10 minutes, I’ve got the point. I don’t need to sit through the rest of it. If there’s music in a show and then it stops, I think: “Oooh, carry on with the music and stop talking.” Music is what does it for me.

People are surprised I’ve still got my accent. I am attached to where I’m from. The strength of the Lancashire people is within me. You get on and do it. There are no airs and graces. My family have never allowed me to get above my station.

Am I happy? I don’t think so, no. Sorry. I’m still trying to find it. A few years ago, I was with my sister-in-law and my niece. My mum was going around the table saying: “What’s on your wishlist?” And we all said what we wanted, but my niece said: “Nothing, I don’t wish for anything.” I thought, that’s the secret of happiness. Complete contentment.

Swimming with Men is in cinemas nationwide from 6 July

Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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