The 86-year-old Oscar winner and former Labour politician said she only turned to acting after failing her school certificate at the age of 16, leaving her with no other alternative than to enter the world of work.
“Listen, I come from a family where if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. That was the class structure,” she told The Times of her childhood in Wirral, Merseyside.
Jackson was working at her local Boots outlet when she joined a nearby YMCA amateur dramatics society.
“Somebody said, ‘you should do this professionally’,” she recalled.
“I wrote to the only drama school I’d ever heard of, which was RADA. I did the auditions. They said, ‘If we had the money, we’d give you a scholarship. But we haven’t’, and the manager of Boots wrote to Cheshire County Council, which gave me a grant and I went to RADA.”
She described her stint at the prestigious drama school as a time “to learn, to work.”
Though her talents saw her go onto amass several esteemed awards – including winning best actress at the Oscars for her performance in Women in Love, and again for her role in A Touch of Class – Jackson was never reeled in by the glitz and glamour of the industry.
“That’s not what it’s about. Not for me,” she explained.
The Elizabeth Is Missing star famously did not collect her two Oscars awards, and now thinly veils her non-attendance at the ceremonies as the result of having been filming elsewhere.
“It always sounds so ungrateful, and I’m not, but once you’ve got it, what do you do with it?” she added.
Jackson also revealed that she would “probably” turn down a damehood if she were to be offered one, because “what does it actually mean?”