altWith a rock-star husband and a tantric sex life, most people forget that Trudie Styler is also a talented actress, as A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson proves.

Trudie Styler is having a fit of the giggles. I’ve just asked the actress, film producer, entrepreneur and eco-warrior whether she’s ever been to the Edinburgh Festival.

“I’m ashamed to say I haven’t,” she replies, adding that she’ll be remedying the situation, however, when she makes her Fringe debut at the Traverse in A Dish of Tea With Dr Johnson.

“So, you’re a Fringe virgin, Trudie?”   I ask.

And that’s when she explodes with laughter. “Yes, I suppose I am, although years ago I appeared on the London Fringe, but it’s the not same is it?” It certainly is not, I tell her.

Nonetheless, suggesting that this glamorous woman who has been married to her rock-star husband, Sting, since 1992, and with whom she famously shares the joys of tantric sex, is coming to Edinburgh to lose her virginity is cause for merriment.

Styler will never live down the fact that her husband once boasted about how they enjoyed five-hour sessions of tantric sex. Even critics reviewing her return to the stage earlier this year in the delicious A Dish of Tea With Dr Johnson, have alluded to their legendary sex life.

“Ah, the Fourth Estate,” sighs Styler. “But far worse things have been written about me; I’m not complaining about it.

“My life is very happy; I am immensely privileged and my husband and I still love each other madly after 30 years together.” (They have four children, whose ages range from 26 to 15; Sting also has a son and daughter with his first wife, Irish actress Frances Tomelty.)

Suffering decades of tabloid tittle-tattle, Styler says, certainly helped her with her role as Mrs Thrale, whose relationship with ‘Dictionary Johnson’ was the subject of much scandalous gossip and salacious speculation in the 1760s. Dr Johnson lodged in Mrs Thrale’s house for more than 20 years, and she was his final, unrequited love.“Some dreadful things were said about her. And, of course, Boswell – his biographer – was incredibly jealous of her, as the play reveals.

“She was vain,” remarks Styler. “But her first marriage was not happy – she had 19 children, 13 of whom died – and her husband gave her VD! But she had a blissfully happy second marriage, a real love match – she was a sensual woman. So, I certainly identify with her enormous appetite for life.”

Like Sting, Styler was born into a working-class family. She grew up on a council estate in the West Midlands and went on to act with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the TV bodice-ripper Poldark. After having her children, her career declined. Then in 1989, she almost drowned in Brazil’s Xingu River. This near-death experience was her “wake-up call,” she says.

“I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for the phone to ring.” So she set up a production company, Xingu Films, whose credits include Boys From Brazil, Moon and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. She even introduced Guy Ritchie, Lock, Stock’s director, to his future, now former, wife, Madonna. Styler has also made a number of well-received documentaries and had cameo roles in several films, the latest being Russell Crowe’s The Next Three Days.

In addition, she’s evangelical about healthy eating and has just launched a range of ready-meals, Lake House Meals, named after her organic farm in Wiltshire, and coming to a supermarket near you soon. How does she do it? “Passion!” she exclaims. “And 90 minutes of yoga every day.”

So what does Sting think of A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, which transfers to London’s West End after the Fringe? “Oh, he loves it so much he’s seen it twice. He’ll be in the Edinburgh audience for our final night. I’m so lucky – he could not be more thrilled or more supportive.”

A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson,
Traverse Theatre,
23-28 August, times vary,
From £6, Tel: 0131 228 1404

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