HFPA in Conversation: Sharon Horgan's Witty Tenderness

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros May 8, 2019
Actress Sharon Horgan

leon bennett/getty images

When Sharon Horgan moved from Ireland back to London her plan was to become an actress.  Along the way, she met British writer Dennis Kelly and the result of their collaboration was the BAFTA-nominated sitcom Pulling.  The first season about three single female friends who shared an apartment together aired in 2006.  She also played one of the lead characters, Donna.

“When we started writing neither of us were interested in necessarily writing female stories, we just wanted to write something funny and real and true about that time in your life where you’re a bit stuck.  You’re living somewhere like London where you can see the party going on but you’re never invited to that party.  It was about our, I guess our misspent 20s and doing jobs that don’t interest you and relationships that are unsatisfying and living in low rent, shared accommodation.  We wrote from a perspective of, this could be a male or female voice but we definitely wanted the women in the show to be the funny ones, to have the funny lines, to not be the girlfriend, to not be the long-suffering, put upon anything,” Horgan told HFPA journalist Gabrielle Donnelly in the dressing room of the Ellen show in Burbank.

Ever since she has been creating truthful – flawed, witty, loveable and hilarious – characters.  Recently she said goodbye to one of them, when the final episode of Amazon series Catastrophe was filmed.  Horgan wrote and co-starred - with Rob Delaney - the series, which focussed on a couple who had parenthood thrust upon them.

“I’m going to miss it horribly.  But I felt that before with other shows. I really felt it with Pulling.  I was really upset to leave that behind but that was way back in the day when I started out and so it was very much like, oh, I can do that again. There was mourning but there was a foolish, youthful optimism that I could find something else that I love that much but really it didn’t happen until Catastrophe and that’s a huge chunk of time in between.” 

In 2016 two shows she wrote aired on TV: Motherland, a series about navigating middle-class motherhood, on BBC; and Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church, on HBO. Next, she will be seen in the drama Military Wives, with Kristin Scott Thomas.

“It’s based on this group of military wives who formed a choir to provide a sense of community while their partners were in Afghanistan.  They ended up singing at the Royal Albert Hall and it inspired many other choir groups across many other military bases.  It’s a female friendship movie.  It’s fun, there’s singing and I think Kristin wouldn’t mind me saying that neither of us are incredible singers. But it sort of didn’t matter because the choir was ordinary women who just came together and still managed to create a nice sound.”

Listen to the podcast and hear what kind of writing partner she is; how it was working with Carrie Fisher and saying goodbye to her character; whether she gets inspiration from her friends; what kind of family she comes from; who is the funniest in her family; why her father moved from New Zealand to London and then to Ireland; why her parents became turkey farmers; why Christmas was a stressful time when she was a kid; how her brothers influenced Catastrophe’s character Fergal; how her roommates influenced the TV show Pulling; what kind of jobs she had before becoming a successful actor and writer; where she gets recognized; why she didn’t enjoy New York; why she read stories from Tales of Old Ireland to her daughters; whether her daughters watch her TV shows; what kind of mother-daughter conversations they have; how she relaxes; and what she wants to do in the future.