Lucy Black, who plays a warm-hearted doctor’s wife in The Durrells, takes on a medical role of a completely different kind as the hated Nurse Ratched.
Based like the hit 1975 film on Ken Kasey’s novel, the story follows small-time criminal McMurphy, who opts opts to spend his jail sentence in a psychiatric ward.
As the reality of his incarceration starts to dawn, he comes up against the authoritarian Nurse Ratched, who is not about to give up on her regime of discipline and order without a fight.
Lucy plays the role that won Louise Fletcher an Oscar, one of five that the film scooped.
She said of the movie: “I think that’s the thing to get away from.
“I haven’t re-watched the film but obviously it does stay in your head.
“I looked at the novel and think it is quite an interesting time to be playing her.
“She is perceived as being the b**ch by the patients and by the viewer. She’s a very capable woman who’s been a strict nurse for numerous years around this ward.
“The doctor who is supposed to be in charge is not very present amd defers to her quite a lot.”
Lucy said she’s approached the part thinking of Nurse Ratched as someone who is part of the institution and following its rules, rather being a villain.
“Nobody is intrinsically bad. They make choices for a reason. We came up with the idea of her being a very competent and strong woman in a man’s world who’s devoted her life to her job.”
She has some real-life examples to work from.
“A lot of my family are nurses and I know people in the caring professions.
“My mother was a psychiatric nurse for a while and it really took its toll.
“She actually moved away from it because it was difficult to switch off from. She had a family where Nurse Ratched doesn’t.
“I can remember mum saying she just felt she was bringing it home.
“It’s hard, hard work caring about these people who do terrible things to themselves, hurting and damaging themselves.”
The story is set during 1961, which Lucy pointed out was a tough time for women in the workplace.
“Why she can come across as cold is about self-preservation. I think there has to be some sort of mechanism like that in her. “What the patients read as her being a cold b**ch is her protecting herself.
“I think whenever you are playing a part, you have to understand them and I think with understanding inevitably comes a liking for the character.”
Bradford-born Lucy, who was seen on the Crucible stage recently as Barbara in The York Realist, said it has been great fun filming for The Durrells.
“All the exteriors are done in Greece and the interiors are filmed in Ealing Studios.
“The crew and family are out there for three months and others actors are brought in and out.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield from June 7 to 23. Bookings: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk