Most people struggle to remain amicable with their exes and, when children are involved, it can often be even trickier.
But this is far from the case for actor Keeley Hawes. She not only gets on famously with her ex-husband – with whom she shares her oldest son – and his new partner, but thinks of them as family.
‘Divorce doesn’t have to be messy,’ she says. ‘Like anything, it gets better with time.’
And, with her three children – Myles, 20, Maggie, 15, and Ralph, 13 – a marriage and a career to balance, it’s a good job Keeley, 44, has such an upliftingly positive outlook on life…
Love conquers all
Keeley married her first husband, Spencer McCallum, in 2001 before they split in 2004. The former couple share son Myles and have remained close friends.
While she admits the decision to end her marriage was ‘horrible’, she has also said, ‘It was a long time ago now, and we have this wonderful son – and my ex-husband is still one of my best friends in the world.’
Spencer and his new partner live near Keeley and her husband, actor Matthew Macfadyen, and often babysit, with Keeley admitting, ‘They are just really wonderful, generous human beings who, ultimately, have always put my son and my other children first. And I can’t thank them enough, really. I love them, they’re my family, they’re my children’s family.’
She added about divorce, ‘I think as long as people concentrate on the children above themselves – which is difficult, I know – maybe that’s the way to make it work.’
Her relationship with Matthew – to whom she’s been married for 16 years – clearly keeps her smiling. ‘It helps that he’s the nicest man in the world,’ she gushed.
Like every marriage, though, there are lows as well as highs. She added, ‘You have to work at it. We still fill up the dishwasher and put a wash on – that’s life – but you also have to make the effort to be romantic.
‘When life takes over, going out to dinner together isn’t top of your list, but before you know it, the children are older and around less and you’re sort of back together again.’
Ageing is a blessing
With one of her biggest TV hits, Bodyguard, being streamed in the US, Keeley is now well recognised across the pond. But the down-to-earth-actor says it doesn’t faze her in the way it may have done in her earlier years.
‘It’s amazing how different it is when you have a show that is recognised there – it’s a new world of possibilities,’ she explained, before adding,
‘But for this to happen now…instead of at 19, is perfect because I can stand back and go, “This is lovely but… back to work everybody!”’
The actor, who will star in ITV’s Finding Alice alongside Joanna Lumley this summer, came from humble beginnings, growing up on a council estate in Marylebone in London, but Keeley insists she ‘hasn’t changed at all’ since rising to fame in the late 90s.
However, she does admit one thing that has changed over the years: ‘I have become better equipped at looking after myself.’
Keeley has had a tough time with her mental health, and has suffered with depression, which led to anxiety.
‘It’s something that never goes away,’ she said of her depression. ‘I think it’s in your DNA if you suffer with it.
‘I started suffering when I was 17,’ she added. ‘It’s not something that’s cured and then goes away and you move on. You are always aware, even if it’s only on a bad morning here and there, that it can escalate quickly.’
While many sufferers swear by therapy, Keeley says that it didn’t work for her. ‘I’ve got a chemical imbalance that has to be managed. And then it’s fine.’ She added about her anxiety, ‘It’s a very human thing, to worry about what you say and how you are perceived.’
So how does she keep her mental health in check nowadays? ‘Keeping busy helps, being forced to carry on, because inevitably it will pass,’ she said. ‘Life’s too short for that. I wouldn’t let it happen again. I wouldn’t let it overtake me.’
Well said, Keeley!