September 27,2014
Tania   /   0 Comments   /   Interview

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Who is your acting inspiration?
Cate Blanchett. After working with her [on Cinderella], I can say she is actually the image of feminine perfection. She has her really lovely kids on set, is super professional, incredibly intelligent and nice to everyone. I think she might actually be a perfect human being.

What are you must-haves on set?
A bottle of water, my sides [mini-scripts] and some chewing gum – you have to get up close in people’s face all the time and you might have just eaten some onions.

What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Realising that a lot of it isn’t acting. You spend such a short amount of time on set in character, compared with the nerves, the preparation for audition and then all the press stuff. It was hard coming to terms with the fact that this is all part of the job.

What’s the biggest difference between British and American actors?
A director once told me that Americans focus on a scene whereas Brits focus on the project as a whole. I am not sure if I agree, but I suppose British actors tend to be a bit more earnest in their research, they treat it as a craft, and Americans go to acting class more. So Brits are more cerebral and Americans are more practical.

Have you had an ‘Oh my God, I’ve made it’ moment?
When I finished my degree, I had a lot of work lined up and I freaked out. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I am actually an actor.’ As a kid, I thought I’d do something proper like writing or directing or producing. Acting is not a real job, is it? I pretend to be someone else for a living.

How do you handle being naked on set?
I just don’t think of myself as sexy, so it’s fine. It’s like when toddlers get naked. When wardrobe come up to me with a towelling robe after a naked scene, I’m like, “Dude, everyone’s just seen it, it really doesn’t matter.” I get a little excited when I get to take off my clothes on costume dramas. The sets are usually boiling hot and I’ve been in a corset all day, and I get to take it all off and lie on a bed, and I think, “Ahhh, I can do this.”

Have you ever been starstruck?
I froze when I walked past Judi Dench at Pinewood. All I could do was hold the door open and squeak, “Hello.” Thank God [co-star] Jack O’Connell was coming up behind me and introduced himself. So then I could mention I was also starring in Tulip Fever with her. I put on a posh voice. It’s Judi Dench. She is a proper lady.

What’s been the most glamorous moment of your career so far?
Going to the Baftas. Where else do you see so many people in so many beautiful dresses? It’s like a fairytale.

What’s been the least glamorous moment of your career so far?
I spent a day on Tulip Fever plucking chickens and gutting fish. I played a 15th-century maid and the director and I thought it would be boring if I was just cleaning the whole time.

What was your fancy dress outfit of choice as a child?
Peter Pan. He lives between Victorian London and a fairytale world, mermaids fancy him and he can fly. He is cool. I had a Peter Pan T-shirt that I would wear with a belt, wellies and leggings.

What’s the most surprising track on your iTunes?
I have some breathing exercises from the voice coach Penny Dyer that begin “Hello, Holliday” in a quite breathy voice. If I have my iTunes on shuffle and that comes on, it scares the shit out of me.

What was the last selfie you took?
On the set of Tulip Fever. It’s set in 1600s Amsterdam and we wore these ridiculous hats that look like penises. There were also a lot of pigs’ heads on set, with their eyes vaguely open, so I took a picture of myself licking a pig’s head in my knobhead cap.

What’s been your biggest fashion faux pas?
The whole Peter Pan obsession fed into my teenage years. I wore a lot of floaty dresses and boots in all shades of green. I was 19 and refusing to grow up.

What makes you angry?
Racism makes me burn with anger. When you are a liberal-minded person living in a multicultural society surrounded by similar people, you forget that it isn’t the norm. So when I was in the Deep South, I would be having a drink with someone and they’d say something that would make my blood run cold.

What makes you laugh?
My nana’s laugh and my mum when she has a giggling fit.

Why was it so important to continue your degree after your acting career took off?
Because I thought my acting was never going to last, and I had been saving up for it my entire life. I had to work pretty hard. There were a few afternoons of crying in coffee shops, writing essays in between acting jobs, when I wondered what I was doing. But I am proud of myself for seeing it through.


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