British actress Imelda Staunton is amazed at how successful her role in Vera Drake has proved to be with US critics - because it's about a frumpy middle-aged woman who performs illegal abortions.

Staunton was expecting director Mike Leigh's movie to only achieve her modest success in America, but was surprised to be voted Best Actress by critics in New York and Los Angeles. She also recently secured a Golden Globe nomination and is tipped to be in contention for an OSCAR.

Staunton says, "Amazing, isn't it? I mean, let's face the facts: I'm a 48-year-old woman playing a kind-hearted working-class lady who 'helps girls out', as Vera puts it, on the side.

"I thought people might run away from it, thinking, 'Oh God, a film about a part-time abortionist' - but they haven't.

"When I was promoting it in America, women of a certain age would come up to me and cry and say, 'Thank God someone's finally shown what it was like.'

"Then they'd tell me what they'd been through and it was really moving."

07/01/2005 02:46