Martine is back... and on song

by BAZ BAMIGBOYE, Daily Mail

Last updated at 08:59 27 May 2005

Not so long ago Martine McCutcheon was hiding herself away in Spain and seriously considering giving up showbusiness for ever.

But in true plucky heroine style, she picked herself up, dusted herself down and started all over again. Actually, part of her comeback was Love, Actually. And now Martine is trying to balance her career so that she can work on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the summer, she will shoot an ITV film opposite Art Malik called The English Harem, for producer Laurence Bowen. She'll play a young woman whose Iranian boss falls in love with her.

Martine told me yesterday: "Because of his religion, it's his duty to look after these other wives and he falls in love with a Western girl who works in his coffee shop. It's a very unlikely match because he's older than her and their cultures are different. It brings a tear to the eye."

The 29-year-old actress said rumours that she didn't want to do any more TV work in the UK were just that: Rumours.

In fact, she's already filming two episodes of Spooks. "There was something in the air, after Love, Actually - stories that suggested I wouldn't want to do TV any more and that was never, ever the case.

"Of course, I want to do films and I want to do television. If I can do them here and in America, then that would be fantastic."

Singing again

Indeed, Martine shot a pilot for NBC in the U.S. called Lies And Wives and is waiting to see if it is picked up by the network. There's also the possibility of a movie opposite Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush. And then there's another potential film project with Working Title. Oh yes, and she's started singing again.

Martine spent three-and-a-half months driving around Los Angeles, going for TV roles. "I just knocked down every door and auditioned for everything," she told me. "I'd see some fellow Brits out there. You literally do have these girls in the corridors, all done up like Barbie Dolls, reading their scripts and dressed up for the part - so if it's something set in 1940s France, they've got a beret on."

She is aware, though, that working the LA circuit comes at a price. "There's a cost to your soul and your sincerity. I saw lots of sad stories in America - and I saw what can become of you. You have to stay really strong.

"When I came home, I could feel the hardness, like a protective armour that I had put around myself, peel away."

Since her return, Martine has been working on a new album. Although she deservedly won a best actress Olivier award for her title role in the musical My Fair Lady, the stage run at the National and the Drury Lane was a troubled one for her.

"I was so emotionally damaged that I didn't think I'd ever sing again," she confessed. "But I've been working on some up-tempo ballads and some soul. I've laid down some tracks and we'll see what happens."

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