Paula Malcomson follows in the footsteps of Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet in Redemption
LOOKING AT Belfast-born actress Paula Malcomson’s resume, it’s easy to see why many people think she’s American.
Since leaving Ireland in 1991 to live in the United States, the 52-year-old has starred in a dizzying array of TV series, from the role of Abby Donovan to Ray Donovan, Maureen Ashby in Sons of anarchy, Colleen Pickett in Lost and Meg Riley in Emergency room
Without forgetting its remarkable appearance in the hunger games films in which she was the mother of Katniss – played by Jennifer Lawrence, who topped the charts as Hollywood’s highest-paid actress.
Paula is now back on the Emerald Isle, starring as DI Colette Cunningham in the Dublin-based cop series Redemption.
“I live in Los Angeles, there’s home and then there’s home. It’s been home for a long time. It made me feel good,” she says.
“I left Ireland at 21 to go to New York. Before that I had toured Europe. I wasn’t even a student when I was a student.
When Review+ visited all of Redemption in April last year it was at the height of one of the lockdowns, with strict Covid procedures in place.
“I was staying in an apartment above where Brendan Behan lived, (Patrick) Kavanagh was across the street. To have those voices in my head while I was working on it was great, it was such an honor to be in Dublin,” she tells us.
“There was nothing to do but live in your own bubble, I was so busy, there was no time for anything. I was trying to learn lines for the next day and it was non-stop, and I was trying to get ahead of the script.
The drama features Colette Cunningham, an outspoken and no-frills DI, whose fearless approach to policing has earned her the respect of her fellow Merseyside Police Serious Crime Squad as she fashions a necklace.
“The first scenes we see her in hiding, in interrogation, making a necklace. It’s her birthday, she has a lot to celebrate and everything changes at that moment, ”she explains.
Colette is unflappable and an absolute force of nature, until she gets a call from Guard Sergeant Luke Byrne of a Dublin police station. The body of a young woman has been found and Colette is listed as the next of kin.
The name of the victim means nothing to Colette so she continues to efficiently go about her daily business.
Persevering in his investigation, the young officer calls back and begins to describe the young woman, leaving Colette speechless. She takes the next ferry to Dublin to identify the body of her missing daughter, Kate.
It turns out that Kate left home 20 years ago when she was 16 and clearly didn’t want to be found because she changed her name to Stacey Lockey. Colette discovers that while she lost her daughter, she gained two teenage grandchildren, brilliantly played by Abby Fitz (Cara) and Evan O’Connor (Liam).
Among the ethnically diverse cast – which includes a Chinese woman and a black man playing prominent Garda roles with Irish accents – Paula has also worked side-by-side with Moe Dunford, Keith McErlean and Siobhán McSweeney.
“I like it in Derry Girls and they don’t talk about The Troubles, which is what I like. It’s beautifully woven into it, they walk up the hill and you’d see the British army hanging around, and then peace breaks out at the end of the second season. I find the writing wonderful.
“Siobhán is absolutely brilliant. We had to do things like tighten up the camera because I was laughing so hard with her, I was very mean.
- Redemption screens Monday nights on Virgin Media One and is available on Virgin Player
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