For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to LARA PULVER.
She has starred in the British BBC spy drama ‘Spooks’ and played the only woman to steal Mr Holmes’ heart Irene Adler in the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’.
Based now in Los Angeles, where she lives with her actor husband Raza Jaffrey, she won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in the West End’s revival of the hit Broadway musical ‘Gypsy’, and to celebrate the release of this show on DVD, also starring the award-winning Imelda Staunton, Lara talks to HuffPostUK about staying connected to her British family, but how she’s managed to find her own comfy corner in her California home...
What do you do to switch off from the world?
Nature. That’s the one thing that tips the balance in terms of living here in California. Within minutes, I can be in a desert, at the ocean, in a park, and that’s the most nourishing food for my soul. They call it ‘hiking’ here, but it’s really just going for a walk.
How do you deal with negativity?
I think I have learned to welcome it as a challenge, to see that there’s a growth that will happen as a result. It’s tough at times. But I’m lucky, I’m surrounded by positive, optimistic people, friends who just love being a mother to friends who are entrepeneurs, wanting to set the world on fire.
And they’re all people interested and interesting, and I think if you can find humility in those negative, challenging times, somehow you grow into a more enlightened person.
When and where are you at your happiest?
We have a place in our home called ‘comfy corner’, which is just a corner sofa - not remotely fancy, just comfy, with a wonderful view over nature, and it’s there with my husband, surrounded by friends and good food. I wouldn’t have said that five years ago, but things change.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Recently, my mother-in-law said ‘sometimes you have to let people make their own mistakes.’ I have 35 years of meddlesome certificates for fixing, and it doesn’t always end well.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Something that I’m still learning is that the graft and the hard work is admirable and gets you places, and does get you the finished product, but the magic and the fun and the pleasure is in the journey, and that is just as valuable as any reward. Work, and going for a hike... it’s not the top of the hill, because you don’t want to miss everything you could have seen along the way.
What would you like to tell your 13-year-old self?
Fun and pleasure are just as delicious as achieving a goal.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
Two places - Japan, New Zealand. And I passionately want to become a mother.
What do you think happens when we die?
I have this theory that we’re all just energy, so I’m not sure sure anything happens. But the vehicle you’ve chosen to live this lifetime in, on this planet, maybe leaves you but your spirit, your energy that is you, continues on, that we can still feel, that we can still click into.
When do you feel in the presence of something larger than ourselves?
All the time, when coincidences happen. When you wake up thinking of someone, and then you get an email from them, after years. Those so-called coincidences I don’t think are random. There’s this energy going on. Living 5,000 miles away from my core family, I’ve never felt more connected. You feel when they’re thinking of you, sending good thoughts, you sense it.
What quality do you most treasure in relationships?
Authenticity, because then you’re brave enough to be you, and all of my relationships, I feel my friends and I would feel very comfortable hearing different opinions, disagreeing and being challenged.
What keeps you grounded?
I think I was raised by a very humble mother, who, if anything, is probably over skeptical. She has that sense of everything being a bonus, like you have your lot, and anything else is on top. She’s quietly proud, and quietly humble.
What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
I bought my best friend’s little daughter a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house. And we spent three and a half hours, icing and making jelly beans to cover this house. And her joy was a gift to me, her complete wide-eyed wonder. That was another reminder that it wasn’t the finished house, it was about the hours we spent covering ourselves in icing and sugar.
Lara Pulver plays stage-shy Louise who transforms into seductive stripper Gypsy Rose Lee in the stage version of ‘Gypsy’ also starring Imelda Staunton, now available on DVD.