The first thing you should know about Amanda Hansen is that she was absolutely fantastic. We first met on 24th May 2010, when she auditioned for my film ‘Out of Character’. Seems weird that I’ve known her for less than four years – it feels like a lifetime.
After the audition, I gave her the role (of course!). The film got postponed, but soon after, I was shooting something else. I cast her immediately. It was a short comedy called ‘Broken Date’. Here is the short film:
A month after that, just for fun, we filmed a monologue that I had written:
We shared a birthday. Actually, a birthdate — 4th December 1984. In fact, the last time I saw Mandy was on December 5th 2013 – we had arranged for our annual birthday get together. We went for breakfast and then went for a long stroll through the London streets before happening upon a photography museum, where we proceeded to both admire the art and joke about the pieces we didn’t like.
On that birthday meet-up we did what we always did – dive wildly from deep discussions about life and film, to the silly stupid conversations and jokes that permeated through nearly everything we’d say to each other.
Mandy had been through a lot in recent years – most notably, losing the love of her life, Phil Burrows, to Leukemia, little more than a year ago. The thing about Mandy is that, even though she was, of course, hugely affected by the loss – she endeavoured to crack on with life – planning new projects and career paths – she was even in the process of creating a new acting showreel with me, the scripts were written and we were waiting for her planned move to London before cracking on with it.
That’s Mandy – always creative, always raring to go, despite whatever life threw at her. When we were together the day after our birthday, she spoke about how she didn’t feel ‘actor’ was the right word for her anymore. Instead, she saw herself more as an ‘artist’ – not tied down to any one discipline. It’s a description that totally suited her – her life was her art; her infectious laugh, her wit, her kindness and her ridiculous ability to totally get you more than you get yourself.
My happiest memory is from July 2012 – when we shared one of our biggest mutual passions – THE MUSIC OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN! From the opening of ‘THUNDER ROAD’ through to the moment some idiot pulled the plug on Springsteen and his special guest, a certain Paul McCartney, we were in our ELEMENT! We screamed out every word of ‘BORN TO RUN’ like it was the most important moment in the history of the planet. And while, on reflection, it may not be the biggest moment in the history of the planet, it may have been the defining moment of our friendship.
There was also a beautiful moment when Springsteen played ‘My City Of Ruins’ – a deeply sad song, originally written about New Jersey, but then adopted by many as a song about September 11th. But then, on that beautiful Hyde Park night, it became a song about Clarence Clemons, the great E Street Band saxophonist who had recently passed away.
But then I looked at Mandy. And it was clear she was thinking about Phil.
The song was taking her to a profound place – a place she needed to go. We talked about it the next day, and although I say the song is a sad song, for Mandy, it was a song of hope. A song that reconnected her with a feeling she’d been needing to feel.
Oh and she nearly burst my eardrums when singing along to ‘Dancing in the Dark’.
I knew Mandy for less than four years – but we managed to pack in a lifetime of friendship, filming projects and rock ‘n roll.
Mandy – my birthday buddy. I love you and you will always be in my heart.