Belfast Telegraph

Ruth on landing Shirley Bassey role

Ruth Negga has revealed she thought it was a cruel joke when she was told she'd been cast as Shirley Bassey in a drama - as she can't sing at all.

The Misfits actress plays the Big Spender singer in Shirley, a one-off biopic about the great dame's early life, but said she never dreamed of getting the part.

"I literally can't hold a note. Well, I can hold a note but I can't do the few notes afterwards," said the Irish actress.

To make things even harder, the 29-year-old only had eight days in between signing the contract and filming the drama to prepare for the role.

"I basically just lived, ate and breathed Shirley. The producers gave me everything they could get their hands on: early footage, recordings. I went on YouTube, had a dialect coach for a couple of days and some vocal training. I've never immersed myself in a role so quickly or deeply. It was incredible," she said.

She added that she is worried about Dame Shirley's reaction - but thinks they have done her justice.

She said: "In a way, it scares me that she might watch it. I hope she doesn't think, 'Who's this girl? She doesn't look anything like me!'

"But we really tried to explain her rise in a sensitive way without being sycophantic, cheap or trashy. It's very affectionate, so I'd be surprised if she really hated it."

:: Shirley is on BBC Two on Thursday, September 29.

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