Sheridan Smith on her public breakdown eight years ago: 'I felt so ashamed of that time'

Sheridan Smith (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Sheridan Smith (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Sheridan Smith has opened up about her public “meltdown” that led her to step down from the West End revival of Funny Girl.

In 2016, the 42-year-old actress faced a series of challenges following news of her father’s terminal cancer diagnosis - and subsequent death.

Despite initial acclaim for her performance as Fanny Brice, one show was cancelled after 15 minutes amid claims that Smith was slurring her words.

She also had to contend with reports of missed curtain calls and disgruntled audiences.

The British actress eventually took a near two-month break from the stage show citing “stress and exhaustion”.Now, Smith has opened up about the difficult period in her life as she discussed her upcoming role in the stage adaptation of the 1977 film Opening Night.

Smith as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl
Smith as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl

The play follows Broadway actor Myrtle (Smith) as she has a downward spiral days before the debut of her latest play.

Smith said that receiving the script felt like a "sign" prompting her to take on the role, highlighting the parallels between herself and the character of Myrtle, based on her own life experiences.

She told The Guardian: “I knew I had to do the play as a way of taking control of what I went through. I felt so ashamed of that time. I need to prove I’m not that person. It’s been very cathartic.

“It's so close to the bone. I’ve actually had the curtain brought down on me. I’ve been through that sort of crisis.”

The Royle Family star admitted she was concerned about potential triggers in Myrtle's storyline but feels reassured as the production has made her mental health a priorty.

“But there are therapists here that you can talk to,” she shared. “It's so different from when I had my meltdown eight years ago.

“There was no support team then. It was just, 'Get on stage!’”