FTN: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into acting?
RB: It’s a bit of a cliche but I can’t ever remember wanting to do anything else. So I started classes at the Gaeity School as a kid and got an agent at 15 and started working in Dublin. I moved to London straight after school and have been here ever since.
FTN: How did the role of Molly come about? Did you have to audition?
RB: I didn’t have to audition, which is always nice. I got a call from my agent about playing Molly and jumped at the chance. I love studio voice work and haven’t done it in years. I had been the Irish language voice of the pink Power Ranger when I was 14. Strange but true.
FTN: Molly packs so much into her four adventures, how much input did you have on the character?
RB: Molly is very much her own person while caring deeply for this strange man that has come into her life.
The scripts were all complete by the time I came on board and I think Nicholas [Briggs] had written her so brilliantly, Molly just jumped off the page. She was so well drawn that there was nothing character-wise to flesh out. I came up with the accent, which is stronger than my own, but the rest is all Nicholas. She came across as a woman ahead of her time in her fearlessness and I was really intrigued by the fact that when we first meet her, she seems quite harsh and even a little aggressive. I was interested in the challenge of bringing the audience around to warming to her after that initial introduction.
FTN: Did you realize how much of a big deal the introduction of Molly was?
RB: The Dark Eyes box set has become a huge hit and has been promoted like it was a TV special. I had no idea how big a deal Molly’s introduction was. I just thought they were great scripts and I felt I could have a lot of fun playing her.
FTN: Can you tell us about your first day of recording?
RB: All of the cast were there. It was very relaxed, we all had coffees and got straight to it in our booths. It was instantly a great and relaxed vibe.
FTN: Molly is very much a lady before her time, strong, bolshy, a humanitarian and a perfect companion for the Doctor with a very strong back-story; did the script help you realize her better or did you see opportunities to expand on to make her even better? I thought the script was so well written, it was all there for interpretation. When a script is good, it’s like a bible and you keep referring to it. I think there is endless scope to where Molly could go. She adapts to any situation and develops a childlike awe throughout when introduced to the Doctor’s worlds.
FTN: What is Paul McGann like to work with? He seems a real perfectionist and very passionate about his Doctor.
RB: He’s great. He’s very focused and professional and knows exactly what he’s doing but he’s also great fun and open to trying things. I just remember lots of laughing all day. 8 Given how the stories end, when can we expect Molly to return? I think Molly could definitely return. We shall see!
FTN: If we could switch to Primeval for a minute; Emily was very much another lady before her time. An abusive husband and seeing that there was something else going on in Victorian London that just wasn’t right; bringing her to the 21st century as part of a time travelling crew seemed so natural for her. Many believe that the Primeval team had finally become the team it should be with characters from different times fighting together. Was this where the creators planned to take the series if it had gone to further seasons?
RB: Emily was another lady before her time and definitely adaptable to all times, as is Molly. She was thrust into the past and I think she developed strength through that process so she found it impossible to readjust to her Victorian home when she returned. I actually don’t know where the creators planned to take it after the final season. It was open-ended but it also felt like a perfect closing to the whole show.
Everyone talks about acting to a golf ball on a stick when working with these types of special effects. How did you find it? I enjoyed it very much. A little odd to begin with but I think the best way to describe it is like being a kid playing games. If you let go and rediscover that imagination children have, the golf ball on a stick does become a T-Rex or Future Predator or whatever you like!
It was a real shame Primeval ended when it did. Where would you have liked to have taken Emily’s character if it had progressed? I think she would have made a great strategist with her knowledge of living in many times. I also would have liked to see her get a driver’s licence at some stage!
FTN: You’ve also done Grabbers, which is a gem of a movie. Did your Primeval experience work in your favour when fighting the Grabbers?
RB: Yes, I think Primeval was great for that because I had some experience of the green screen and CGI beasts world. Paddy Eason from Nvizible was on set all the time, on hand to show us a drawing or early creation of a grabber in motion, which was really helpful before certain takes.
FTN: I thought it was a great movie – only the Irish could defeat monsters while drunk as lords. There was a great chemistry between the leads. I imagine you all had a great laugh making it.
RB: We really did. It was such a great cast and crew. Unbelievably bad weather conditions didn’t even break the camaraderie! We just got on so well and all felt we were working with a great script and wanted to serve it well. It was a real ensemble job.
FTN: Do you now realize you are the First Irish Lady of sci-fi? You’re up there with Colm Meaney and Liam Neeson! Are you a sci-fi fan?
RB: That’s extremely kind! I hadn’t thought of it. I do enjoy sci-fi. Basically, as long as you’ve got great characters and a strong script, you can’t go wrong.
FTN: Finally, what new projects have you lined for the future? Personally, I would love to see Molly deal with the Eleventh Doctor.
RB: I’ve just finished shooting a movie called The Sea which will be out later in the year. Not sci-fi I’m afraid, but hopefully there will be more of that in the future, and some more Molly.
FTN: Ruth, thank you so much and don’t leave it too long before Molly steps through those TARDIS doors again.
RB: Thanks very much! All the best.