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Stephen Graham: Actor told Desert Island Discs 'I don't know how to deal with it'


Stephen GrahamImage copyright
Getty Images

Actor Stephen Graham has opened up about the time he tried to take his own life, after suffering from a disorder.

Speaking on BBC Island 4's Desert Island Discs, Line of Duty stars, The Irishman and This Is England said he "did not know how to deal with it" at the time.

The ordeal occurred after he left home to go to drama school in London.

The 46-year-old man said a series of traumatic family events that occurred before he moved from home for the first time contributed to his collapse.

Within a few years, my beloved grandmother died and her mother gave birth to a child who was stillborn. "I have been through a number of traumatic things and have never really grieved," said actor Liverpudlian.

His mother then became pregnant again and a baby boy arrived the day before Graham, who was 20 years old, began his new life in the capital.

"The happy, happy incident of this little boy came into my life and my mother's life and pop and then I had to go a little difficult," he told host Lauren Laverne. "But when you are 20 you have the world in front of you, so you try not to focus on those things."

He added: "I have experienced interference with all these things that have happened traumatically from my adolescence that I haven't really dealt with or I haven't agreed to."

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BBC / World Productions Ltd


Stephen Graham plays disguised officer, DS John Corbett on Line of Duty

The star remembered how he returned home and tried to explain his feelings to his parents, who tried to help him, but in vain.

He continued to try to hang himself in his room. "That is very calculated," he said.

"I heard my nanna's voice – and I knew it sounded strange and strange … and she shouted 'Stephen' and I thought I was leaving, because I had tried to do that. And I just came, I opened eyes and broken straps, fortunately.

"And then I was wearing a high neck jumper, one of them was a zip-up jumper, and my mother and child came back and then my mother saw it and she said, 'What's that?' And she saw it correctly and then we threes … I really opened, everything just came out and I just [said]"I don't know how to deal with it."

  • If you or someone you know feels emotionally depressed, these organizations offer advice and support. In addition, you can contact the Samaritans for free at 116 123 (English and Irish). Mind also has a secret telephone line – 0300 123 339 (Monday-Friday, 9am – 6pm).

His good friends Lee and Jamie were "extraordinary," he said. "They were really supportive and my mother and father and slowly rebuilt me, slowly coming to an understanding that was OK. Life is worth living, thank God."

Graham also talked about how he first attended the youth theater group at Liverpool Everyman Theater when he was a teenager at the suggestion of local actor Andrew Schofield, who lives far from his grandmother.

One of Graham's grandfathers was Jamaican, and he told Laverne that in his youth he did not know where he was "."

"There was a time there growing up when I was a little unsure of where I fit," he said, referring to his white and black cousin. He stressed that his parents encouraged him "to find my own way in it".

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Getty Images


Graham (second left) with Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino and the cast of The Irishman last month

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He can now be seen playing Anthony Provenzano's mafia in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. The director had previously played it in the New York Gang and as Al Capone on Boardwalk Empire HBO.

  • Martin Scorsese Reviews The Irishman ★★★★ ☆

Graham admitted that he was "really nervous" to meet Robert De Niro, his co-star at The Irishman, because films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter were "films where I grew up".

His father showed him in the live video after he claimed to have the right interest in acting. "That weekend we watched the three films, and I think we watched The Godfather twice actually. It's amazing," he recalls.

"But that is the moment where he goes to me, 'If you are serious, this is how you do it, seriously and brilliantly.' That started my love affair with the film."

Desert Island Disc is on BBC Radio 4 at 11:15 GMT on Sunday and then online.

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