Thusitha Jayasundera

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Plays Tash Bandara

DATE OF BIRTH : 1971

PLACE OF ORIGIN : Sri Lanka. Her parents still live there and she visits every couple of years. ‘Back there, kids don’t move away from home until they get married and are very much under their parent’s jurisdiction. I was very sure about what I wanted when I moved to England, but I used to miss Sri Lanka terribly. I’m OK now, although it’s always a huge wrench whenever I visit and have to return to Britain.’ She moved to London when she was 20.

FAMILY : Businessman father, Mahendra and teacher mother, Usha. Her mother was originally from the Punjab, had lived in Dublin and London’s East End before settling in Sri Lanka. Older brother, Haran, who lives in Germany.

LIVES : South East London

HUSBAND : Married Simon Allen in 2002. Met while she appeared in The Comedy of Errors and he was in the band. ‘We’ve been together a while and, when we first decided to marry, we had a very simple wedding with about 25 guests. In the end, there were 125! It took a lot of organising, but we had a lovely time – even if it did pass in a bit of a blur!’

EDUCATION : She attended an all-girls school run by Australian missionaries.

TRAINED : Graduated from RADA in 1993. Done theatre work for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

ON CHARACTER TASH : ‘Tash is a professional but she’s rather brusque and plays her cards close to her chest. She doesn’t think her sexuality should be an issue but it’s her Achilles’ heel and it something she has to tackle. Tash is a lesbian but you don’t see anything untoward. I don’t think I’d like it if I had to take all my clothes off or play some torrid love scene. I don’t think it’s necessary, it destroys and distorts the scene.’

ON RESEARCH FOR ROLE : ‘I’d never actually been near a hospital before getting the part. But when I knew I’d got the role I made plans to do something about it. I saw three open heart surgeries in a row. What struck me was the concentration, focus and skill of the surgery team. It really was eye-opening.’

ON LEAVING HOLBY CITY : ‘When you’ve been doing one role for such a long time, you can lose confidence. You start to wonder if you’re capable of doing anything else. But I’m grateful that my decision to leave didn’t mean Tash ended up being run over. This way, the door is always open for me to return.’

WHO WOULD PLAY HER IN A MOVIE OF HER LIFE : Kathy Bates

MOST VIVID CHILDHOOD MEMORY : ‘Being on holiday with my grandmother at her house in Sri Lanka, where I often spent school holidays. I used to run around in the afternoons and wait for monkeys to appear on the balcony.’

MOST FOOLISH THING DONE : ‘Losing my plane ticket to Mexico at Washington Airport. I was on a trip to a festival with my theatre company and had to make my own way there. My detour involved flying to Florida and a long bus trip, before arriving a whole day behind everyone else.’

WHO SHE ADMIRES : ‘Aung San Suu Kyi – oppositional leader of Burma and Nobel Peace prize winner.’

WHAT MAKES HER ANGRY : Conceit

HOBBIES : House restoration, drinking beer

FAVE FOOD : Eritrean food

WHO MAKES HER LAUGH : ‘Johnny Vegas. His vulnerability endears him to me.’

TELEVISION CREDITS : House Across the Street; Sweet Night Good Heart; Holby City; The Bill; Doctors; Above Suspicion; The Jury; Silent Witness; Young Dracula; Inspector Lewis; Broadchurch; The C Word; Doctor Foster; Midsomer Murders; Humans

FILM CREDITS : The Tempest; Signal to Noise

THEATRE CREDITS : Pentecost; Peer Gynt; Coriolanus; Cain; A Comedy of Errors; As I Lay DyIng; Twelfth Night; Grimm Tales; The Caucasian Chalk Circle; Warhorse; Crime and Punishment; Much Ado About Nothing; Dreams of Violence; A Day at the Racists; Marina Parade; Tiger Coutry

AGENT : Amanda Howard Associates, 21 Berwick Street, London W1F 0PZ.

DID YOU KNOW?

* Thusitha bizarrely finds driving in chaos very therapeutic. ‘I don’t drive in the UK, but in Sri Lanka, road hazards like animals and children, which send most people into panic, manages to relax me.’

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