plays Kathleen Scott
On New Year's Day, 1984, Susan Wooldridge had been out of work for eighteen months. One week later, after the first episode of 'The Jewel in the Crown', in which she played Daphne Manners, had been shown, her life was changed for ever. Of the offers that poured in, she unreservedly chose the part of Kathleen Scott in 'The Last Place on Earth'.
"It wasn't a difficut decision because Trevor Griffith's [sic] scripts are wonderful and Kathleen was an extraordinary woman. Of course it was a consideration that she is such a total contrast to Daphne. She was striking rather than glamorous, but she had the most extraordinary effect on men. They just fell in love with her left, right and centre."
Kathleen Scott was years ahead of her time, the daughter of an impoverished clergyman who broke with convention by studying art at the Slade, then living alone in Paris and working as a sculptress under Rodin. In 'The Last Place on Earth', her exotic clothes accentuate Susan's natural sense of style and colour, just as her flamboyant personality gives the young actess the chance to project her own vivacity and intelligence.
"I always do a lot of research for my roles, but this time it was more necessary than ever because she is a real person. Kathleen was incredibly ambitious. When she met Scott, she saw they had a classic bond. He would give her a son, she would get him to the Antarctic. She really did adore him and they had an enormously happy, though brief, marriage. Most of it was spent thousands of miles apart. I've met people who remember her as a most daunting lady, but I love and admire her spirit and her independence. Mind you, I expect I'd have been totally in awe of her in real life."
Susan was born into a theatrical family in London, the daughter of actress Margaretta Scott and film composer John Wooldridge. The only other career Susan ever considered was defence barrister, but from the moment she played Portia in 'The Merchant of Venice' she rated stage advocacy above the real thing.
Her appetite for acting was whetted at convent school in plays like 'Murder in the Cathedral'. When she left with 'A' levels in History, English and Art, she enrolled at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. There, in her final year, her perfomance as the grandmother in 'A Day in the Death of Joe Egg', won her the Spotlight Prize.
On graduation, she found she was often asked to play old ladies, and on occasion old men, first at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and later on a repertory circuit which took her to the Bristol Old Vic and theatres all over the country. In 1978, having decided that a change of tack was in ordem, she moved to Paris and studied mime under Jaques lecoq, and experience she found invaluable when establishing the overwhelming physical presence of Kathleen Scott.
Back in Britain, she went on the road once more, this time with the community theatre, Common Stock. Her first real break into television came in the comedy series 'REP' at Granada. Luckily, working on that brought her in contact with Christopher Morahan and Jim O'Brien, the producers of 'The Jewel in the Crown', at a time when they were despairing of finding their Daphne Manners.
Since completing work on 'The Last Place on Earth' Susan's feet have barely touched the ground. She has appeared in 'Hay Fever' for the BBC, 'Frankenstein' for Yorkshire Television and 'Time and the Conways' , a BBC Play of the Month which will be transmitted in April . Recently she returned to the stage for the Pulitzer Prize-winning play ''Night, Mother' at London's Hampstead Theatre Club.
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