Trudie Styler: ‘When I feel things strongly I have to act on them'

The actor, 65, on the road accident that scarred her, following her dreams – and being with Sting for 37 years

Most people in the street where I was born in Bromsgrove took up factory work or worked in typing pools. When I told my father one night after my 18th birthday that I wanted to go to drama school, he said: “If that’s what you’re going to do, you need to leave.” I found myself hitchhiking to Stratford-upon-Avon. That’s where you went when you wanted to be an actor.

Acting helped restore my self-esteem after a childhood accident. I was knocked over by a van when I was two and spent a lot of time in hospital. I had a lot of scarring on my face and my opinion of myself was very low, but once I started learning acting at grammar school, that changed. I loved literature, and Shakespeare, and when I began to find characters who had nothing to do with being Trudie, I was free.

When I feel things strongly I have to act on them. It’s not impulsivity, but if something gnaws at me, and I don’t act, I just don’t feel right. I see that tenacity in my kids, and their father Sting. He left Newcastle with nothing but a baby in tow, and wanted to be a musician. We’re very similar like that, and our kids have got a fair old dose of it, too.

I’ve been with Sting for 37 years – 27 married. I enjoy my independence and Sting’s never been a partner who’s held me back from following my dream, following my quest and realising all the things I’ve wanted to do creatively.

I lead a peripatetic existence. We’ve been in New York for nine years, but we travel back to the UK and to our winery in Palagio, in Tuscany. Sting is always travelling, too. Plus, we’ve got grandchildren dotted from one coast to the other. There’s nothing like being a grandmother. It’s a beautiful chapter. They fill me with delight. They’re wonderful little monsters.

I was brought up in a Christian household. I was often at church; my mum was devout. I’m not a great religious practitioner at all, but I have a deep humanitarian streak. Giving is soul food. You feel better about life if you can share.

We don’t have bodyguards. Sting’s very level-headed. He knows the moment that he’s outside the door he’s a public persona. But inside our home he’s just dad, and that’s why our kids have a normal relationship domestically. Everybody says what they think. They’re a feisty bunch. There’s no being famous and successful inside the house.

The tantric sex story has gone round the world. It’s probably gone around the solar system at this point. I don’t even want to discuss it with you, but let it just keep orbiting.

Freak Show, directed by Trudie Styler, is out now on DVD and Blu-ray


Nick McGrath

The GuardianTramp

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