If there’s one word that quickly summarizes the roles Niamh Algar has taken on since her breakout break in Shane Meadows’ TV series The Virtues, it’s certainly ‘intense.’

Whether the 29-year-old Irish actress is playing an undercover detective under severe psychological pressure in the true-crime drama Deceit, a film classifier that is intrigued by its novel videos. the indie horror Censor or, as in the new TV series Suspect, a woman grieving for the unknown cause of her partner’s death, she brings a radiant energy to the screen without being able to look away – and you imagine, not being able to call in.

“When there is a mental threat to the character, or a physical threat, I have to feel it… I have to really care,” she said. “I know from the outside, they look incredibly emotionally upset, but these [roles] Always the best reward. ” Algar was speaking to Zoom from Spain, where she was filming the upcoming Disney+ heist series Culprits – re: the intense thing, she plays a character named ‘Psycho’ – and tries to I try but can’t avoid sunburn (“I literally went outside for five minutes without sunscreen and got sunburnt,” she laughs. “My Irish skin doesn’t take off because of this”). .

As a crime thriller based on a Danish series, Suspect feels like a worthy introduction to Algar. In each episode, Danny of James Nesbitt, a cop, confronts someone from his estranged daughter’s past, trying to piece together the circumstances of her death. “There’s really nothing to hide behind,” explained Algar, to the actors.

Niamh Algar as Nicola in The Suspect

/ Channel No. 4

“You’re not going to move on to another story – you’re with these people in this room for half an hour, and there’s something very intimate about telling stories that way.” The tense conversation between her character, Nicola, and Nesbitt’s Danny plays out like “a game of cat and mouse… You can’t retreat from this moment, there’s no respite”.

The series will air on Channel 4, and if there’s one other common denominator in Algar’s career so far, it’s the broadcaster (along with The Virtues and Deceit, she also appeared in Pure and The Bisexual). for the channel) and production arm Film4 (which backs both Censor and Calm With Horses, which earned her her first Bafta nomination in 2021).

As a teenager in Mullingar, County Westmeath (“really, really in the country”) she “grew up on the Channel 4 diet – This is England, Outfits, Skins” and praised the “honesty” of the channel’s storytelling. “[These were] She said. “There’s no more polished film than what Film4, Channel 4, has out there… I love the stories they tell and I love the people they work with – they’re brave enough to prove who they are.” They are a “great home” for young rising talent, she added – and listening to her enthusiasm, it’s hard not to think about what will be lost as C4 faces a private investment process. impersonal. Nadine Dorries, take note.

Algar prepares for Baftas last year

/ Getty Images for ABA

Growing up, Algar “always lived in my head, lived in my imagination – I could only get lost in these stories. My mom would just see me in the corner, talking to my teddy bears and they all had different roles. I was able to entertain myself a lot, probably because I was the youngest of the family 5 years old”. She might be an everyday daydreamer, but tell her now, there’s a real sense of resourcefulness and determination.

“No one in my family is into the arts,” she says, so she has little idea of ​​avenues into the industry, but “when I wanted to start acting and I couldn’t afford it, [go to] drama school, I started doing film studios, because I thought I would go straight to the source. ” She started working as a production executive in Dublin, “bringing coffee to people on set, to try and see and see what people do” and, while she was studying art art, “speaks of me as a buyer prop. After volunteering to run the ropes with actors she was working with, she was asked to appear in a scene.

As secret agent ‘Lizzie James’ in Deceit

/ Channel No. 4

She still manages to be like a sponge on set – “I never stop learning, I think you have to be constantly open to change” – and while filming the second series Raised by Wolves, who working on HBO’s sci-fi series Max- produced by Ridley Scott, she spent a few days watching her director to gain insight into the “outside workings of how things are put together.” ” (she “would like to be a director” in the future – “hopefully some skills have been rubbed off…”).

One lesson left for Algar came from The Virtues co-star and “model” Stephen Graham, “who has been so supportive of me over the past few years and is always there for me if I need advice… What I Learn When I Do It the work on that project is to make something look like it’s completely out of bounds and the naturalness and authenticity that comes from hours of hard work, knowing the story you’re telling and knowing your personality … For me, it was my first job, working with [Graham], I could not have asked for a better start in this industry. He just carried kindness everywhere with him.”

She had the chance to reunite with him at TV Baftas last month, when she won Best Actress for her performance in Deceit. She ultimately lost to Jodie Comer, but Algar notes that the range of roles recognized in her genre marks a stark contrast to the kind of parts she read about in the early days of her career. “When I first started, I saw these great stories but they were always told from a male perspective or with a male focus,” she said. “And now we’re seeing women at the forefront of these incredibly exciting stories, lots of layers and textures.”

Her list of upcoming projects paints a similar picture. Like Culprits, she co-starred with Florence Pugh in The Wonder (“I’m just scared of the fact that I get to work with Florence”). The film is set during the famine in Ireland, “a period in Irish history that I don’t believe was actually portrayed on screen”. Then there’s the medical thriller Malpractice, in which she’ll play a doctor facing a malpractice investigation, co-starring her partner Lorne MacFadyen (who you might recognize as the agent). Russian scam causing chaos in Vigil). “It was a really exciting time” for the industry, she said. “It can go on long.”

Suspect begins on Sunday, June 19, at 9pm, on Channel 4 and All 4


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