The recipe for overnight success: Buddhist chanting, Tank Girl and a liberal dash of good fortune. Well, it worked for Louise Berry, star of The Slab Boys.
Words: Stephen Naysmith Photograph: Chris Blott
YOU KNOW HOW it is. The best recipes always happen by accident. You make a killer cannelloni. only you can’t quite remember what you put in — it just sort of came together.
It’s a bit like that for Louise Berry. The striking eighteen-year-old Glaswegian stars as
Lucille in John Byrne’s forthcoming movie of
his play The Slab Boys. having been plucked literally from the street.
Berry had been clubbing and working in Glasgow cafes when she saw ﬂyers asking for a ‘sophisticated scruff’ to star in a movie. She had pondered a career in acting. but didn’t get it together to attend the audition.
Later that day. walking down Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street. Berry was spotted by a casual acquaintance from clubland. It was Bella. daughter of Simon Relph — producer of The Slab Boys. He had had a fruitless day casting the key part of Lucille. a mail girl in a carpet factory and the slab boys’ dream date. Bella insisted Louise should try for the role.
Berry did her best to avoid the opportunity. She called to arrange a reading. but went clubbing and missed the appointment. Out again the following night. she got home to find the phone ringing.
This time she attended the audition and found herself catapulted into the movies. ‘lt’s a totally crazy story — but I have witnesses.’ she says.
The next ingredient in Berry’s unlikely recipe for success was the critically-panned movie Tank Girl. ‘Tank Girl was a turning point in my life.’ claims Berry. ‘That was the day l dyed my hair blond. dumped my boyfriend, got a life.’
The same boyfriend had discouraged her acting ambitions. ‘He said: “You’re never going to get there, and I’m not waiting around while you try”.’ remembers Berry. ‘He’s in Germany now . . . busking.’
Which only leaves Buddhism. Berry has been interested in the religion since she was twelve, especially the discipline of chanting. It’s all about attitude, she explains.
‘Just before I got the part. I was chanting for a purpose. really strongly. i didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. It’s about being able to realise changes in yourself.’
Berry hits the screens in August as Lucille. ‘She’s the extreme of every Glasgow woman. a femme fatale who doesn’t take any shit.’
14 THELIST 27 Jun-10 Jul 1997
Louise Berry: the star of The Slab Boys was literally plucked from the streets
says the actress. There’s a lot of herself in the part. although Lucille rarely smiles in the film while Berry’s conversation is peppered with infectious laughter.
'My boyfriend said: "You’re never going to get there, and I'm not waiting around while you try." He's in Germany now . . . busking.’ Louise Berry
Berry now lives a strange double life. fitting interviews in between shifts at a Glasgow Internet cafe. This week a customer was staring at her — she thought he had a complaint about the food. ‘He said: “You‘re not an actress are you?” says Berry. ‘People notice the teeth and the hair.’
While Berry is waiting for the reaction to The Slab Boys she is preparing to appear at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in Away From The Skies. a gala charity event in aid of UNICEF. Her contribution is to read a monologue from the daughter of a drug-addicted former dancer.
After that. she hopes the recipe will come together again — albeit with a little tweak here and there. ‘I would love to do more film: hopefully in a part where I’m smiling this time.’ she grins.
The Slab Boys premieres at the Edinburgh Film Festival on 10 Aug. Away From The Skies is at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow. 3 Aug, - v '
8pm. ‘ r"