Sometimes the darker the work, the more fun you can have.

When we were doing 'Criminal Justice,' they were filming 'Clash of the Titans' nearby and we kept nicking off to their catering tent and going, 'Look what they've got!'

I think all things are political... How women are portrayed - that's a big thing for me. What is this role trying to say about women? Is this woman weak or victimised, and, if so, do we get to understand why?

It's interesting when people say, 'You always play strong women,' because as far as I'm concerned, women are strong. I think that's what women are. We have got that vulnerability, but we have got that strength. We are survivors.

Male? Female? It's not always relevant to some people. They are who they are - they might not fit into a specific box.

Sometimes it feels like the feminist movement never happened.

I reckoned my accent and class would count against me; I didn't see actresses as being working-class.

I'm always an advocate of 'acting is reacting,' which can be difficult.

Everybody's in a situation; everybody has a story. It's about finding out why.

We take things at face value, don't we? You form an opinion about something immediately, but you ought to step back a bit. Take in the vista first.

There aren't that many great female roles in Shakespeare - none that I'd be desperate to play.

We need a wider sense of community because we're all on the same planet.

I watch 'Take Me Out' mainly for Paddy McGuinness. When we were younger, we worked together as lifeguards at the Bolton Leisure Centre.

I take bits and pieces from everything. But I think the Method can be very isolating, and sometimes it's more about ego than playing the character truthfully.

I'm not a fan of reality TV.

I'm a big techphobe. Someone else helps me run my Twitter; I wouldn't be able to trust myself.

I'm inspired by films from the early '50s, especially Jean Simmons in 'The Clouded Yellow' - and by vintage swing, psychobilly gigs, sea shanties, and English folklore.

If I were to appear in a programme like 'Sex and the City,' I'm sure I'd be cast as the downtrodden one staying at home and having seven children while the others jet-setted around the world.

Cooking, you can keep. I've not the slightest interest in it.

Music is a huge inspiration to my style. I first got into it when I was 10: the new wave mod scene.

I care about my work, but I don't care about getting it wrong. The more you do, the more you realise nobody's going to die.

We shouldn't still be asking, 'Have you got children? Why've you not got children? Ooh, you must have children!' Bog off, d'you know what I mean?

Nobody's impressed back home. All my friends were going, 'Oh right, so you're doing a play up in Leeds? Another depressing one is it? Do you mind if we don't bother coming?' I love that.

I went to Salford Tech. They did a two-year performing arts course. I went there singing and dancing - I had a terrible time. I turned up in green dungarees and German power boots. I was into prog rock at the time - Gong and Hawkwind - and I was clumping around.

I think, as a woman, you've got to make so many sacrifices.

I don't have massive ambitions to be anywhere other than in this country doing good work.

I do, in a strange way, care deeply what people think.

I'm unusual in that I've worked more as I've got older.

When I'm going to work, I often stop and wonder how I've got here. I don't mean literally, but just thinking back to when I first had the idea of being an actress, it seemed so unreal, so unlikely. People like me just didn't become actresses. Every new job I get comes as shock. It's almost as if I'm waiting to be found out.

When I graduated, I was my biggest ever: 15 stone, with a boyfriend - my first - of just 11 stone. I was 23 years old. It wasn't just affecting my career: it was a health issue as well.

I went to the Old Bailey, and I met a judge, and I was petrified, but they were like, 'Oh, you're an actor, well, great.' It was a bit like we're cut from the same cloth a little bit.

I must admit I don't usually buy a daily paper, although I will get one if there's an interview I want to read.

Food is important in working out a character. How she eats is a window into her temperament. If I think she likes her food, I'll put on a few pounds, or lose a few if she lives on her nerves.

Crying does not equal good acting.

You want to go to your deathbed saying, 'I didn't sell out.' But it's a tough business to keep to what you believe in and get through and do well.

It's great having time to just sit back and work through things in my mind. It helps put life into perspective.

When I was growing up, because I was a bit overweight and boyish, I thought I wasn't attractive to the opposite sex, but I have since met lads from my school who said I just seemed unapproachable.

Often, when I am playing difficult roles, I have a problem sleeping because I can't leave the character behind.

I love hoovering. People go to therapists; I've got a Hoover.

I think you can tell a lot by someone's footwear - cowboy boots would put me off, as would a man in Ugg boots or Crocs.

As a human, if you're in a scary situation, you pretty much forget about everything else! You just try and survive.

I've always fancied being a bit of warrior, on a horse swinging a sword around, sorting out the men... Oh yes, that sounds lovely.

My kind of work is very intense. The trouble with me is that I completely fling myself into it. I get giddy. I get terrible crushes on jobs.

I was a tomboy. In my clubbing days, my friend Lucy Davies-Hunt - half-Iranian, looked like Yasmin Le Bon - could wear catsuits, while I was the one in the sweatshirt, jeans, and Fila boots.

I get easily distracted and become a bit of a giddy giggler. I'm not good at taking myself seriously, and laughing at myself helps ease the pressure.

At drama school, I was told, 'Lay off the chips, or you'll never play Juliet.' Sometimes, in the stock room of the set of 'Dinnerladies,' I'd put away three or four Mars bars while waiting for a scene. Then, at 24, I lost five stone.

I'm really unimaginative - once I like something, I fix on it.

I know I sometimes come across as being quite dismissive about acting. But I'm not. It's like people reading their diaries in public. I don't want to talk about how I create characters. I find it self-indulgent.

I get angry about the way women are forced and bullied into what the male ideal is.