– . – Actor – Jenny Agutter


Actor – Jenny Agutter

A Class Act

As British classic The Railway Children celebrates its 40th anniversary, its star Jenny Agutter reveals how she made the transition from child star to celebrated acting icon.

It seems that there are three types of people in this world: those that can’t help but shed a tear whenever they watch a certain Roberta Waterbury crying ‘Daddy! My daddy!’ at the sight of her-long-lost father in Lionel Jeffries’ The Railway Children; those that get slightly hot under the collar whenever they hear Van Morrison’s “Moondance” because of a particular shower scene in John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London; and those that do both! It’s been 40 years since Jenny Agutter stood on that fateful railway platform and, as this 1970 classic is re-released in cinemas and on Special Edition DVD & Blu-ray, we sat down for a chat with one of Britain’s most cherished film and stage actors.

• What appeals to you about acting and keeps you coming back for more?
I guess you never feel like you’ve done it. There’s always something you want to express or to find out about. The power that film and theatre has to move people, to take you somewhere, to make you understand something, make you laugh, or whatever it is that it does, is so terrific; it’s lovely to be involved in that in any way. But I fell into it by chance. I would have not chosen to be an actor, because it is a very odd way of life! You’re not in control of a great deal of what happens to you. It’s just that when it’s going well and one does get the opportunities, you take them and you enjoy them.

• How did you find the transition from child to adult actor?
Something that I enormously regret was that I did not finish my education. When The Railway Children was completed, I said, ‘Right, I’m going to be an actor and I’m not going to continue with my education.’ So I dropped out of school, which I truly regret. I had no certificates, nothing, some films behind me, but no real structural understanding of theatre or drama. Fortunately, I think The Railway Children helped me because it had been so successful and had very good reviews. By the time I was 21, I’d played Miranda in The Tempest at the National Theatre and that was what made a break and helped me to both learn more about my craft and grow up.