This was less a gush and more a righteous roar of approval, however, with critics cheering that a secret star of British theater â so chameleonic that sheâd gone underrecognized for over a decade â had finally smashed into success. The play, which originated at the National Theater, in a coproduction with Headlong, duly transferred to the West End.
But success came only just in time: If Ms. Gough hadnât gotten the part, she was going to quit acting altogether. Sheâd had a year without any work, and was broke.
Over a recent lunch in a West London brasserie where she makes a joke of ostentatiously ordering lobster pasta, sheâs able to laugh at how far sheâs come. âI canât believe it,â she said. âItâs completely nuts.â
Ms. Gough (it rhymes with cough), whoâs lived in London since she was a teenager, is great company, her chat as quick and flashing as those very blue eyes. She clearly doesnât suffer fools, and enjoys pricking actorly pretensions. (âI like to shout âMacbethâ a lot.â) Yet beneath the expletive-riddled sarcasm dwells a spiritual belief that the universe is unfolding as it should; she rejected Catholicism, but retains some âfaith in a higher power â something very personal to me.â
So when it came to Emma, she had a sense that it was meant to be. âPeople will laugh, but I feel like the characters find me,â she said. âThe ones Iâm supposed to play, Iâm going to play.â
She still busted a gut to get it, however, even snorting a line of icing sugar when auditioning. âIt was one of those mythic auditions,â…