Aussie actress Sigrid Thornton has offered fans a rare glimpse at her vulnerable side in a deeply moving TV interview, as she broke down in tears recalling the agony of watching her father battle chronic pain in his final years.
Speaking on the ABC’s Anh’s Brush with Fame – set to air in two weeks time – the Prisoner and SeaChange star, 59, revealed her father Neil suffered from neurasthenia, usually characterised by nerve problems and chronic pain. She believes it was triggered by his time in the army, serving in the Second World War in Japan.
“He went to Japan for some months,” she explained. “He was part of a clean-up that happened after the bombs dropped, the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs, and so he was exposed to very heavy radiation.”
Sigrid said he was eventually discharged at a young age when he began suffering from his condition.
“He developed a very serious chronic pain condition,” she added before breaking down in tears. “It really marred the rest of his life, his last 10 years.”
The emotional actress admitted: “It’s still quite raw for me… He spent the last 10 years of his life in chronic pain, clearly as a result of this radiation exposure.”
Remembering her father as an “extremely kind and gentle” person, Sigrid said he was a role model for her, even after he passed away.
Recalling the moment he died, she said on the show: “He had a very good death, and I say that because dad had had a very long illness so there was a lot of pre-grieving that had gone on.
“When he finally died, he waited until the family were all together on Christmas Day.”
Sigrid explained her father took “two days to die”, but it was nice as it allowed each family member to “shower him with love” – and she actually believes he timed it himself, to ensure his family were all there.
Elsewhere in the personal chat, Sigrid recalled both her parents being powerful activists while she was growing up, often taking part in feminist protests and campaigns.
The kids were sent to live in New Zealand with some family friends when they were younger, while their parents continued to work in the UK – and it’s a time Sigrid described as “marvellous”.
However, she admitted she did fall victim to school bullies at the time, who picked on her because she was different. Remembering one time feeling so angry with her own bullies, she said she began walking around the school looking for someone “to hurt”.
“I found this little girl and I found the back of her neck and I squeezed it very hard between my forefinger and my thumb and she cried. I got such a shock. Then and there I decided I’d never do it again,” she admitted.
Sigrid Thornton appears on the Anh’s Brush with Fame on Wednesday, September 12 at 8pm on ABC.