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Stephen Graham: I battled imposter syndrome for years and I still don’t feel like a star

Stephen Graham says he suffered from “imposter syndrome” for a long time because of his working class background.

But the actor said it had faded over the past two years — in which he landed top roles in hit BBC drama Line Of Duty and Martin Scorsese’s latest film The Irishman, alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

Graham, 46, who is originally from Kirkby in Merseyside, told Hunger Magazine: “I suffered a lot with imposter syndrome for a long time. That working-class mentality of: ‘I don’t deserve to be here, someone’s gonna kick me out of here’. But that seems to have dissipated over the past two and a half years, if I’m honest.”

When asked why, Graham said: “I don’t know, it just has. A little bit of a mental change in that kind of thinking. That does not come with ego in any way, shape or form.

Unsure: Stephen Graham said he felt like he did not belong at first (Rankin)

“I just kind of understand that I am closer to 50 now than I am to 40. And I suppose that maturity has dissipated that way of thinking. But I still don’t think of myself as the same as when I used to watch people on the telly and think: ‘Wow, I want to do that, they’re great’.”

He added: “If you do run away with that, that’s when ego would take hold. It’s not embarrassment because I am very proud of what I’ve achieved. But there’s that little bit of going, ‘Alright then’, and that’s wonderful.”

Line of Duty: The star appearing with Martin Compston (BBC)

The actor moved from Merseyside to London in his twenties and trained at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.

Graham, who has two children with his actress wife Hannah Walters, said he relied on his own parents for financial help at the start of his career.


He said: “I had the support of my mum and dad which was fantastic and then I did little bits and bob and jobs and things like that. “But if it wasn’t for my mum and dad and if I wasn’t able to get a grant to go to college, it would never have been possible for me.”

Read the full interview and see Rankin’s shoot in the new issue of Hunger magazine, on sale today. See hungertv.com for more.


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