“It’s a crisis that’s happening today in Ireland, and everywhere; it’s a global story that I think is really timely,” Sarah Greene told us at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where Rosie premiered. “Over 3,500 children are homeless at the moment in Ireland. It’s just huge numbers. It’s frightening, and it’s not getting any better. Hopefully, this film will bring about some sort of change, and put some pressure on the government to set up something more permanent for people.
“It’s our basic human right to have a home,” she continues. “When that’s taken away from you, through no fault of your own, you lose your identity. It’s your job as a mother to protect your family and when you can’t do that, it’s quite a scary place to be in.”
Sarah Greene plays the titular mother to four children in the film, which is directed by Paddy Breathnach (Viva, I Went Down) from an original script by Roddy Doyle (The Commitments, The Van).
Originally from Cork, Greene studied acting in Ireland at the Gaiety School of Acting, famous for teaching Colin Farrell among many others; but also Moe Dunford, who plays her husband in Rosie, and who has also appeared opposite her in Black ’47 and the TV shows Vikings, as well as the upcoming TV show Dublin Murders. “We have great chemistry,” she says. “We got married on Vikings! We’re very comfortable working together. It’s easy, a lot of the work is already there.”
And according to Greene, her upbringing was also something that informed her portrayal. “My dad is in telecommunications, and my mum is a housemother,” she tells us.
“I know that growing up that there were probably situations my parents were in that we were kept protected from,” she says referring to her younger sister as well.
“They kept us protected of the gravity of their situations at times. It’s only when you get older that you think, ‘our parents had a hard job, you know? Our parents are amazing’.”
Greene tells us today that she wanted to act since she was 5 years old, after seeing a pantomime and begging her parents to let her take acting classes. They did, however, they also kept her in check as she grew up.
“I’ve been lucky since I left college,” she says about the hard times of being an aspiring actor. “I worked in a bar for a little bit and when I first moved to London in 2009, I spent a summer working for a removal company. I wasn’t the one lifting. I was the one ringing and seeing how many vans and men they needed. I remember I was getting paid pittance and I rang my dad, I was like ‘I just don’t like it, dad’. And he was like, ‘is no one clapping you and telling you you’re wonderful?’ I was like ‘no’. He was like ‘is that what’s wrong with you?’ I was like ‘yeah, actually’. He went, ‘well done!’
“You narcissistic bitch,” Greene remembers thinking to herself. “Let me re-evaluate myself. Thanks dad!”
Nominated for a 2014 Tony Award for her performance in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan on Broadway, Greene moved to London permanently, on the hunt for meatier parts and applause, but found that it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“I’ve had many months out of work. Before I started [2017 TV show] Ransom, I was five months out of work. I was broke. So that’s what is part of this job and if I didn’t have really supportive parents, I would’ve ended up like this, you know? I’m lucky that I’ve never had that happen, but it’s a reality that could happen to anybody.
“No matter what part of town you’re from, what caste you are, how you’re perceived,” she continues about the homelessness issue at the core of Rosie. “It’s a reality where you’re one paycheck away, really. My parents have always been just incredibly supportive. I’m very lucky.”