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People: Actor Richard Clements' special relationships

By Kerry McKittrick

The 40-year-old actor lives in Bangor with his wife Maria Fuentes Mora and their children Sofia (8) and Nico (4). He will be taking to the stage in the play Stitched Up at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre next month.

My wife Maria

A long time ago I did Spanish at Queen's University and was sent over to Spain to teach English for a year in a place called Albacete, where I met Maria.

After I finished at Queen's we moved to Cardiff, where I studied acting, and then on to London for a few years before coming back here. I think Maria found the lack of heat tough when she first came to this part of the world, but she's spent half of her life here now so she wouldn't change it. She works as long-haul cabin crew for British Airways. We're very supportive of each other's lifestyle and we have lots of back-up from our extended family.

My children, Nico and Sofia

There's no doubt becoming a dad changes everything and they've been the best years of my life. Mixing being a parent with being an actor has its ups and downs. Most rehearsals start at 10am and finish at 6pm so I get to do the school run and put them to bed. However, last year I was at the Edinburgh Festival for three months and I didn't get to see the kids at all during that time, which was the toughest it's ever been.

On the plus side I had a few weeks off afterwards which I could spend with them.

My best friend

All of my best friends I've made are through Bangor Grammar School, where I studied. My oldest friend, though, is David Johnston and we met on our first day of P1. He's been all over the world but now lives in San Francisco, so it's handy having a wife who works for an airline.

Most of the time, though, I see him when he comes home for holidays.

Mum was a Sister at the Ulster Hospital and Dad worked in finance at Queen's University.

My parents, Doreen and Derek

Both of my parents are retired, but you could hardly call it retirement as they're so busy with childcare. They timed their retirement perfectly with our two kids and my sister Ashleigh having twins too.

There are ups and downs to being an actor, so mum and dad have probably questioned my chosen career, but they've never done so directly. The greatest advice they gave me was when I was about 17 and had made the decision that this was what I wanted. They told me to go off to university and do something different rather then go to drama school at the age of 18. They said that once I finished university, if I still wanted to go into acting then that's what I should do. It was great advice and I would say the same to my kids if they decide they want to act.

The person I go to for advice

I always rely on my dad. If I get worked up about something, then he has the ability to see through problems with clarity.

My mentor

When I was at school, I did drama classes with a woman called Patricia Irvine. She was the one who pushed me to take part in drama festivals and the National Youth Theatre. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. You need someone to convince you that you're good enough.

My secret crush, Salma Hayek

I go for Latino women - it must be something to do with having a Spanish wife - and I think Salma Hayek is a great woman.

My fantasy dinner party

Clive James would be my first guest - he's a fantastic writer and poet and I grew up watching him on TV.

Next, I would ask my favourite musician, Tom Waits. I do a lot of songwriting in my spare time and I always want to write in his style.

Next, I would ask my favourite actor, Jimmy Stewart. He's an icon and if I ever find one of his films on TV, I have to sit and watch it.

Finally, I would ask Seamus Heaney. I never met him, although I did shows when he was in the audience. I studied his poetry at school, but I'm only starting to appreciate it now.

  • Stitched Up runs at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, from February 17-21. For further details, visit www.lyrictheatre.co.uk

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