Belfast Telegraph

New Dr Who Jodie Whittaker has had scary times before... like having to master a Belfast accent for Good Vibrations

By Ivan Little

The English actress who's just been cast as the first female Doctor Who starred in a film about Ulster punk godfather Terri Hooley five years ago, when she talked of her fear at having to learn a Belfast accent for the movie.

But Jodie Whittaker also spoke of how she'd been made to feel at home in Belfast and how she drank in the Duke of York pub during the making of the hit movie Good Vibrations, which was released in 2013.

Jodie, who spent weeks shooting the film on the streets of Belfast, was unveiled at the weekend as the 13th Doctor Who but she's hoping it won't be unlucky for her.

Thirty-five-year-old Jodie is best known as murder victim Danny Latimer's mother in the award-winning ITV series Broadchurch and two subsequent series of the show.

But long before she was in demand as an actress on the small screen, Jodie, who's from Yorkshire, starred in a succession of movies including Good Vibrations.

Jodie, who's named after Hollywood actress Jodie Foster, trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and made her professional theatre debut in The Storm at Shakespeare's Globe in 2005.

The following year she broke into movies in Oscar-nominated film Venus, which starred Peter O'Toole in one of his final roles.

Jodie said working opposite O'Toole was one of her "most treasured experiences".

The actress, who's married to American actor Christian Contreras whom she met at drama school, also received critical acclaim for her performance in the movie One Day alongside American star Anne Hathaway.

And then came Good Vibrations, which was written by Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry, and told the story of how Terri Hooley set up his Good Vibrations label and helped launch John Peel's favourite song Teenage Kicks by the Undertones on an unsuspecting world.

Jodie with Terri Hooley at the premiere of Good Vibrations

Jodie said she'd been instantly drawn to the film after reading the script and added that she particularly loved the fact that it was an independent movie.

"It was like nothing I'd ever done before," she told Culture NI, adding that getting to work with Belfast actor Richard Dormer who played Hooley had sealed the deal because she was aware of his 'amazing' reputation.

She also revealed that the Belfast accent didn't come easily to her, but she said she enjoyed taking risks. "I like to feel the fear. I've never done the Belfast accent before and I am finding it pretty difficult, but I have a wonderful dialect coach," she said at the time.

"Mind you, the directors seem happy enough with me so far, so, you know, that's good."

Jodie had never heard of Hooley or the Good Vibrations record shop and recording label before she got the part.

But she said after googling him she was 'blown away' at how much stuff came up about him.

She visited Hooley's record shop and he took her to the Duke of York pub. She said: "We had a really good chat and it was fascinating to talk to someone who had led such a colourful existence and was so passionate about music."

Jodie said she'd never been on a movie set where all the supporting actors seemed to know each other the way they did in Belfast and that created a 'lovely' family environment, especially as Hooley and two of his children also had cameo roles.

Jodie said she wasn't doing an impersonation of Hooley's wife in the film. She only met Ruth during the filming and stressed she was playing the erstwhile Mrs Hooley 'her way'.

And she said it was refreshing and exciting to be in a film that wasn't political but rather set against the backdrop of the Troubles.

Jodie said she didn't know how the film would be greeted by critics, especially in England. But they loved it.

BBC Radio 5 Live reviewer Mark Kermode described Good Vibrations as "an absolute humdinger with real heart and soul".

He said it had moved him to tears twice and he later singled it out as the best film of 2013.

Four years earlier, Jodie had been in Co Sligo to make the movie Swansong: The Story of Occi Byrne, alongside west Belfast actor Martin McCann.

She had to play his mother even though she was only a couple of years older than him.

Meanwhile, fans of Dr Who have been divided about the decision to regenerate the Time Lord as a woman. But Jodie has urged fans not to be "scared by my gender".

"This is a really exciting time and Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change. It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be. It feels incredible."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Whittaker beat actresses like Tilda Swinton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge to become the 13th person to play the Doctor.

Dr Who number 10, David Tennant, starred alongside Jodie in Broadchurch.

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