TIME OUT LONDON – ‘Films stick with you,’ Gemma Arterton stresses, as she leans across the desk of a central London office. ‘They’re with you for your whole career so you really have to know why you did them.’ The 31-year-old actress is dressed top-to-toe in tomato today. It’s the kind of ‘fuck you’ outfit you wear to meet an ex for dinner, so it’s no surprise that she’s ready to speak her mind.
She’s here to talk to me about her new movie ‘Their Finest’, a feminist-angled romance set during WWII. She plays a writer who enters the movie business to write romantic ‘slop’ for propaganda films. Her character Catrin Cole is based on a real woman, Diana Morgan, who wrote for Ealing Studios at the time. Cole flourishes once she’s given the opportunity to flex her talent. It’s certainly reflective of Arterton’s own journey.
A few years ago you probably knew the Kent-born actress as a Bond girl. She spent her early career getting cast in arm-candy roles, which she says she took because she was ‘grateful’ for the opportunities. Now, she’s an accomplished stage actress and a film and TV producer, having started her own production company with two female friends. And she’s not afraid to dish the industry dirt…
What was it that drew you to ‘Their Finest’?
‘I loved the period. The war gave so many opportunities to women but it was also a very bizarre time to be in London. I didn’t know about propaganda filmmaking or the roles women played in it. I thought it was really fascinating.’
It’s a bit of an untold take on the wartime story, isn’t it?
‘Yes. Usually we tell stories of the battlefield or what was happening in Germany. We don’t really talk about what was happening at home, but as well as being a time of pressure and loss, it was a great time for women finding out about themselves. They were being called into munitions factories and driving buses.’
The film has a very feminist message; you’ve become more outspoken about your politics in recent years too – how’s that been?
‘When I first started talking about being a woman in the industry I got into trouble. Not many people were speaking out like they are now. Now everyone talks about it. It’s brilliant. You don’t have to be prim and prissy about it; you can be fun and gross, you can have an intelligent voice and be working-class as well.’
How has the way you’ve chosen roles changed over the years?
‘At first I was just taking what I was given. Now I have a little bit more respect for myself. Especially because I’ve done some really challenging theatre. My film roles should reflect where I am in terms of theatre, which is more complex stuff. I care about what I do so much that now it has to be something I really believe in for me to invest my time.’
– Photoshoots & Portraits > Time Out London (2017)
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES – London, 1940, amid the panic of the Blitz: Copywriter Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) has landed a job scripting women’s dialogue for war films at a British ministry desperate to boost the national spirit, when she’s given a plum piece of advice from a co-worker (Sam Claflin) on writing for female moviegoers.
“Girls don’t want to be the hero,” he declares with chauvinist condescension in “Their Finest,” the new World War II-set period drama from director Lone Scherfig (“An Education”). “They want to be had by the hero.”
It’s a galling line played pitch perfect to rankle audiences through the lens of a more progressive today — even if many inside Hollywood argue that, too often, Hollywood still agrees.
“That’s how it was back then,” Arterton says on a recent afternoon in Los Angeles, shaking her head in faux anger. “And that’s something I like about this film. Catrin comes in [to her new job] and they say, ‘Obviously, we can’t pay you as much as the men’ — and because it’s that period, she just kind of accepts the sexism.”
At least, to start. Based on author Lissa Evans’ 2009 novel “Their Finest Hour and a Half,” “Their Finest” tracks Catrin’s blossoming empowerment as she’s propelled headfirst into the production of a fact-based Technicolor war epic set against the rescue of Dunkirk.
Working her way up from writing the “slop” — the derogatory term male writers used for female dialogue — she finds her voice by writing the film’s female characters into heroes in their own right, and then by protecting them from having their agency erased off the screen by her male colleagues.
Meanwhile, amid the organized chaos of moviemaking with a colorful crew of egotistical actors, anxious ministry producers, a pretentious director and the sexist co-writers who begrudgingly come to respect her talents, Catrin brings her quiet battle home, where her narcissistic artist-husband (Jack Huston) has his own ideas about his wife having a career of her own.
ES MAGAZINE – Gemma Arterton wasn’t among the estimated 100,000 people who took to the streets of London for the Women’s March in January, protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump. Instead the self-described ‘staunch feminist’ was stalking the stage that afternoon as the 15th-century warrior, martyr and feminist icon, Joan of Arc, at the Donmar Warehouse. ‘I did think, “the matinee isn’t until 1.30pm, so I could just go along early in my costume”. How f***ing cool would that have been?’ grins the 31 year-old, who won rave reviews for her performance in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. ‘But my first costume was ‘normal Joan’, before she cuts her hair off, before she’s in the armour — and I really wanted to go in my armour.’
We’re sitting in a French café in Brooklyn at the end of a week-long US trip for Arterton. I almost didn’t recognise the Gravesend-born former Bond girl when she first arrived — she chopped off her hair to play Joan, and is sporting a chic pixie crop. ‘I still catch myself in the mirror and go, “oh yeah, I’ve got short hair”,’ she says, giving it a tousle. ‘But when I wear a dress now, I look cool, rather than… pretty.’
The previous night she pulled off both with aplomb in a floor-length paisley number at the New York premiere of her latest film, Their Finest, which opens in the UK this week. Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a softly spoken secretary from Ebbw Vale hired by the Ministry of Information to script propaganda films during the Second World War. Based on a novel by Lissa Evans and directed by Lone Sherfig (who also directed the Oscar-nominated An Education) it has an undeniably feminist flavour. Catrin’s role is writing ‘the slop’ — women’s dialogue — for which, she’s told, she’ll get ‘no screen credit’, and won’t be paid as much as ‘the chaps’. She is based on a real-life Welsh screenwriter, Diana Morgan.
It’s not difficult to draw parallels between wartime propaganda film-making and latter-day Hollywood. While the language on set may be studiously PC now, Arterton has talked in the past about being the lone woman on a film, employed as ‘just the totty’ and ‘a piece of ass’, in big-budget blockbusters such as Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans. In response, she set up her own production company, Rebel Park, in 2014 ‘to create more opportunities for female directors and female writers.’ In development are currently ‘one comedy, one really mad f***ed-up film, and a TV series’.
(Read the rest of the interview at the source)
Together with the interview, a beautiful new photoshoot of Gemma has been released! She looked ever so great. Check it in our gallery :)
– Photoshoots & Portraits > The Evening Standard (2017)
AOL.CO.UK – Actors Michael Fassbender, Gemma Arterton and Shia Labeouf and director Ken Loach have been tipped for prizes at this year’s British Independent Film Awards (Bifa).
Now in its 18th year, the awards celebrate the most innovative and creative productions by film makers in the UK, often confronting key contemporary socio-political issues.
Bifa founder, Canadian-born Elliot Grove, who also founded the Raindance Film Festival, said: “British film can’t be put in a box.
The reason we started Bifa almost 20 years ago was to shine a spotlight on British talent. Film is one of the main exports from this small, damp and dirty island.
Britain is one of the most diverse countries ethnically and culturally in the world, and just because you are in Britain making a film makes it, whatever it is, British.”
In the lead-up to the announcement of the winners on Sunday December 4, the full list of nominations include…
For best supporting actress: Avin Manshadi (Under The Shadow), Gemma Arterton (The Girl With All The Gifts), Naomie Harris (Our Kind Of Traitor), Shana Swash (My Feral Heart), and Terry Pheto (A United Kingdom). (source)
THE DAILY MAIL – Gemma Arterton was on the move.
Her new picture, The Escape, was shooting on location in London, and I was tagging along for a day of guerrilla film-making.
Led by producer Guy Heeley, the leading lady strode through the streets of London: from Fitzrovia, then Bloomsbury, across the Marylebone Road and finally into King’s Cross station, where cast and crew stopped for a lunch of salad and stew.
Then it was off again, to a park where, I’m sorry to relate, a lot of dog owners had clearly not been picking up after their mutts.
Gemma and director Dominic Savage came up with the idea of making a film about the ‘taboo’ topic of mums who leave their kids.
Arterton described her character Tara — a mother of two who is married to a businessman called Mark, played by her pal Dominic Cooper — as a ‘creative person’.
‘But she’s got absolutely no outlet for her creativity — and what that means is that Tara feels trapped — though she’s not.’
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art-trained actress (making her debut as a producer on the film) and director Savage came up with an improvised blueprint of a script, which meant that the movie often veered off in ‘varied and interesting directions’.
‘This is about a woman who walks out on her family — which isn’t usually the term that’s used. Usually the word is ‘abandoned’,’ she told me, pointing out that when a father leaves, ‘he walks out’.
‘Abandoned by my mother’ is such a strong term — and I think it’s because of this idea of ‘How could they possibly do that?’ Because women should feel: that’s why we exist. And I don’t think that’s the case.’ The last film I can think of that tackled this subject was Kramer vs. Kramer.
Gemma said filming had been intense, but both she and leading man Cooper had been exhilarated by it. ‘It makes you think of your own life,’ she said.
‘I’ve always wanted to have children,’ she reflected. But since working on The Escape, she’s been thinking: ‘Oh my God . . . do I?’
Now that she has finished filming, Gemma has moved onto rehearsals for G.B. Shaw’s Saint Joan, for the Donmar Warehouse. (source)
BELFAST TELEGRAPH – The British actress, who has made it on to countless most beautiful women lists, has had a varied career; treading the boards on stage as well as starring in both Hollywood and indie flicks.
Earlier this year (16), Gemma won praise after playing the lead role in play Nell Gwynn, and was nominated for a prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress. Comparing the stage to the screen, the 30-year-old says the importance placed on looks varies enormously in the two mediums.
“Look, I trained for six years, I started out in the theatre where, if you’re good for the role, you get the part,” she began to Hello! magazine. “I don’t think I ever heard of anyone being hired because of their looks, which is very different from the movie industry. Some producers and directors care, some don’t. And I now choose to work with those who don’t. Frankly, I don’t give a s**t how I look. I don’t want my face or body considered in that way. I’m not a model, that’s not my job, so why would it ever be a consideration?”
As is normal with Gemma’s career, the brunette star has now flipped her attention back to film and television work. She has three new films due for imminent release, plus a further two in production and is also filming a TV version of Watership Down.
While she’s made it clear in the past that she didn’t enjoy her experience on huge blockbuster flicks, Gemma did like the adrenaline kick she got from doing her own stunts on movies like Bond film Quantum of Solace.
“I really loved doing stunts and getting the chance to do them at the beginning of my career was amazing because I loved gymnastics in school. I loved chucking myself around,” she grinned. (source)
THE OBSERVER – If you ask Gemma Arterton if she regrets her career choices to date, she will look you straight in the eye and tell you it’s complicated. The year she graduated from Rada she appeared in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla; in a Brit comedy with Mackenzie Crook; as the lead in Tess of the D’Urbervilles; and as Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace. From there, she went straight on to blockbusters Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Clash of the Titans. On her first day working on Quantum of Solace she filmed her death scene, lying naked for two hours on Bond’s bed, covered in black oil. It seems now that the experience gave her time to think.
It’s a hot afternoon in Soho and she is mixing a drink with the casual swing of someone just home from holidaying with her best friend; she’s tanned, freckled, quick to laugh. At the weekend, for her belated 30th birthday party, she tells me she’ll be performing TLC’s “No Scrubs”. Suddenly she’s rapping. “See if you can’t spatially expand my horizon. Then that leaves you in the class with scrubs, never rising…” And then my hands are clapping, because that’s what happens to your hands when a girl spontaneously raps.
We’re at the Dean Street Townhouse – and the sun has brought out celebrities like rain does snails. At every table is a doubletake. Arterton, her back to the room, seems profoundly at ease with herself, which makes her stories about the anger she suppressed – about her “freak-outs” after bad experiences at work, about her decision to quit films altogether – all the more compelling.
It happened slowly. Once, she remembers, she was working on a film where, apart from the make-up artist, she was the only woman on set. “Everyone just behaved so badly, people were getting fired left, right and centre. It was just power, power, power.” She hated it. “After that, for a while I was doing ‘Fuck You’ work, because I was angry about the industry. I wanted to do these aggressive films to show that I was badass and could kill people.”
Photoshoots & Portraits > The Observer Magazine (2016)