Alison Wright is probably the biggest Sunderland star on Netflix right now, besides of course the club itself. Featuring as a main character on the smash hit sci-fi drama Snowpiercer, Alison plays the role of Ruth Wardell, head of hospitality on the mega all encompassing train, who finds herself in the cross hairs of numerous conflicts over who governs the remnants of humanity, and of course up against the evil Mr. Wilford played by Sean Bean.
Sunderland Global Media had the exclusive opportunity to talk to Alison about her work on the series and her upbringing in the City of Sunderland. Although she now lives in America for her acting career, she has in fact never truly left Wearside behind.
SGM: How was growing up in Sunderland? Whereabouts did you live?
Alison: I grew up in The lake District and came to Sunderland around Age 5. We lived at The Barnes and I went to school at St. Marys.
SGM: How did you first get into acting? And where did your personal journey start? Did you drama at school? Did you go to an academy?
Alison: My Mum put me in a tap dancing class at age 3. It all started there ! I went to Elsa Wilkins School of dance in Sunderland. The building was opposite Mowbray Park, I was probably there 4 times a week for more than 10 years, it was a huge, central part of my life. I did Panto for the first time age 8 at The Sunderland Empire. I was always in plays at Junior school, but there was no drama or performing at my secondary school. I did manage to do a Catherine Cookson play in Newcastle when I was 11 and I loved it. I was hooked early ! I studied Musical Theatre at Newcastle College before leaving to NYC.
SGM: Now that you live in America, do you ever get back to see Sunderland much? Do you still have family in town? And do you miss the area?
Alison: I get back to Sunderland all the time, My parents still live in my childhood home, so even after living in New York City for many years, Sunderland is still home. I love wandering the streets I walked as a kid.
SGM: Do you support Sunderland A.F.C?
Alison: I have zero interest in football!
SGM: Moving onto Snowpiercer, what inspiration do you draw upon for your character of Ruth Wardell? How do you seek to project her?
Alison: I love playing Ruth. She began the show being someone who followed the rules and did what she was told without ever thinking for herself. She had blind faith in Mr Wilford and closed her mind to critical thinking . It wasn’t until she was faced with insurmountable evidence that she was willing to see the truth about the huge narcissistic disappointment that is Mr Wilford. It’s always fun to play someone who is rigid and insists things must be a certain way, there’s always comedy to be had in that. because the moment things are a little out of whack, they can’t handle it and spin out of control. Ruth worried about all the little things, but missed the bigger picture .
SGM: Who as your favourite person to work with? And how were the other cast members?
Alison: working with Jennifer Connelly is a childhood dream come true. I always was and still am obsessed with The Labyrinth. She’s wonderful to work with and a great collaborator.