Eve Best on finding out Dr. O’Hara is bisexual and her love of theater


I’ve been a little in love with Eve Best ever since Dr. Eleanor O’Hara first opened her very British mouth on Nurse Jackie. And in this case, love at first sight didn’t fade with time. Finding out that the doctor is bisexual just sealed the deal.

This season has been a tough one for Eleanor and BFF Jackie, thanks to Jackie’s drug addiction. But things have never been better for Best. Nurse Jackie is a hit on both sides of the pond and, despite a successful career that started when she as nine, she only recently started being recognized on the street.

Venice magazine talked to Best recently as Jackie wrapped and she prepared to return to London for the summer, appearing in Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe Theater. Here are some highlights.

On L.A.:

Being born in England you’ve got no idea the effects of the weather in L.A. It’s just so incredible to wake up every day feeling the sun on your bones and the bright blue sky in the morning — it’s like being in Heaven.

On being recognized in New York City:

The other day I was having breakfast at a café and this police car drove up on the pavement, and I thought, “Oh no. I’ve done something wrong. What did I do?” And this lady cop walks up to me and says, “Are you on that Nurse Jackie?” I said, “Yes.” And she said, “We love that show – we love you!” It made my day. What’s so lovely about America is that people will talk to you and say right out loud that they love you and love the show, whereas in England everybody is far too shy and retiring.

On the difference between working the London stage and Broadway:

I felt like Judy Garland in The Wizard Of Oz — in shock over this incredible place. In London, you would do the play and then go home on the Tube and then make your supper and then go to bed … in New York, I’d go out the stage door and there were fans, and then we’d be driven home in cars, and it was this whole amazing experience to be treated like a princess … audiences were so embracing, and I was dazzled the whole time — and I fell madly, madly in love with this very alive city.

On whether, after two Tony nominations, an Emmy-winning show and an Academy Award winner for Best Picture (The King’s Speech) under her belt, she’s proven herself:

You would think so. Actually, I think I’ll be ringing up Steven Spielberg this afternoon.

On the difference between Eleanor and Eve:

I’m a total scruff … Eleanor’s very well-groomed and I don’t wear Manolo Blahniks at all. At the audition I was wearing gym shoes with my hair on end, and I said, “I’m really sorry, I know this character is high maintenance, but I have to go shopping for [a trip to] Australia.” That’s a fundamental difference between me and her.

On whether she knew Dr. O’Hara was bisexual:

It was a total surprise. I had no idea until the read-through of that episode. It was very exciting. [giggles]

On plans to take Shakespeare to the Middle East:

Oh, and this is the latest idea that I’m cooking up — to take Shakespeare to the Middle East and perform it with a group of women. When I was in India you mention the word Shakespeare to any nationality, any culture, and they light up because everybody has some sort of connection with it … When I was younger I did Romeo and Juliet in Northern Ireland with all the troubles there between the Catholic children and the Protestant children who were all being brought up to hate each other. And by the end of this play, they were all swapping numbers and best friends. We can unify people with theater.

I am determined to bring theater to Darfur and do workshops there, and get people interacting and playing. If you give a child a cardboard box, or a fairy costume, or a musical instrument, they won’t pick up a gun — and it’s completely true.

Check out the rest of the interview for more from the remarkable Eve Best. (Thanks to @andnowyoutellme for the tip.) Are you as enamored of her as I am? Can theater help unite the world?

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