By Adrian Deevoy
The mere mention of Hollywood has Gemma Arterton wrinkling her famously freckled nose.
‘I haven’t had great experiences in Hollywood so far,’ she frowns.
‘Maybe I don’t fit in there. It can be quite intimidating.’
She’s only had a single espresso, but for a moment it would appear that the ‘brunette bombshell’ is about to explode.
The Rada-trained actress laughs drily at the out-moded expression and quietly detonates.
She has played the Duchess Of Malfi and Rosaline in Love’s Labour’s Lost at The Globe and has a portfolio of highly creditable films to her name: Tamara Drewe, Gemma Bovery, St Trinians, Quantum Of Solace, Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time and The Disappearance Of Alice Creed have all benefited from her presence and charisma.
But Arterton has temporarily turned her back on Tinseltown to take the lead in an ‘honest and huge-hearted’ production at London’s Adelphi Theatre.
An English girl — From Tamara Drewe to Gemma Bovery, by Anne Fontaine, former Bond girl Gemma Arterton is building herself the destiny of a carnal icon much like Brigitte Bardot, capable of spellbinding the camera with a simple shoulder movement and of monopolizing a whole film.
“I don’t find myself very interesting but, in the same manner as Gemma (Bovery), my character, I’m fascinated by other people.”
– Photo Gallery > Magazine Scans > Scans from 2014 > Premiere (France) – September 2014
– Scans from 2013: InStyle (USA) – October 2013
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The very pale, very interesting Gemma Arterton, leading lady in two of this year’s blockbusters, gives a master class in how to wear diamonds—mostly white, with a hint of yellow, a blush of pink.
By Steve King
Contrasts? Gemma Arterton can tell you a thing or two about contrasts. The girl from Gravesend graduated from R.A.D.A., the most prestigious classical drama academy in the land, only to go straight back to school in St. Trinian’s. She wowed critics in Ibsen’s The Master Builder at the Almeida, then squeezed into a pair of microscopic denim hot pants for Tamara Drewe. Just a couple of weeks before she achieved global exposure—literally and figuratively—as Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, she had also appeared in the lead role in the BBC’s somber-toned adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
Of her experience as a Bond girl, incidentally, she has nothing but good things to say—not least that it enabled her to buy five Colombian emeralds while she was on location in South America. She still likes to buy a piece of jewelry whenever she makes a film abroad. “Jewelry is like treasure,” she says. “Much more fun than houses or furniture.”
The contrasts keep coming. Lately there’s been Unfinished Song, a bittersweet ensemble piece in which she stars alongside Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave, and Byzantium, a lush, louche vampire yarn directed by Neil Jordan; next up is Runner, Runner, a pacey thriller with Ben Affleck. At the mere mention of Terence Stamp’s name, she rocks back and shakes her hair loose and beams like a gospel singer mid-hallelujah. I ask whether he is as charismatic off the screen as he is on it, but she has answered the question before the words are out of my mouth. “Terence! Yes! Terence! Well, at first I wasn’t sure how things would go. I thought it could be hard. Because he has a reputation for being very . . . particular. But in fact it was like the relationship of our characters in the film—it softened, we developed a rapport, we became friends. We got along brilliantly. We lived opposite each other while we were filming and we’d share organic food. ‘Here, have some of my delicious spelt! Here, have some of my lovely goat’s cheese!’” But apparently she drew the line at: “Here, have some of my yummy Colombian emeralds!”
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By Matt Prigge
Gemma Arterton is a Bond girl, but being a Bond girl in the 21st century is different than in the 20th. A small bit in “Quantum of Solace” led to leading roles in other big-budget productions like “Prince of Persia,” “Clash of the Titans” and “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” But she’s made sure to do enough smaller films, like “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” to remind viewers of her deep history in theater. She currently has two new movies in American theaters: “Unfinished Song” is a dramedy/weepie where she leads a chorus of old singers, including Vanessa Redgrave; and in “Byzantium,” from “Interview With the Vampire” director Neil Jordan, she’s a bloodsucker perpetually on the run with daughter Saoirse Ronan.
“Byzantium” is one of those vampire films that goes out of its way to avoid being a traditional vampire film.
I was approached really early on, when the script was still based on a play. It was totally different. The vampire aspect was a figment of the girl, Eleanor’s, imagination. It was more about mental illness and abuse, with this girl saying to her psychologist that she was living with a vampire. What attracted me was this weird relationship between the girl and her mother. When Neil [Jordan] came on, he decided to make it more of a vampire movie. But that relationship remained. It felt similar to my own childhood. I was raised with two women, my sister and my mother, who was very young.
It’s noticeably smaller in scale than “Interview With the Vampire,” which was mostly about men.
It’s hard to make movies about women, especially when they’re strong. It was really hard to make this. There was a big actor lined up for the Darvel part, which Sam Riley played. He dropped out at the last minute, and all the financing fell through — even though the part wasn’t that big. We all agreed to do it for half the fee. It was hard, but we did it.
Does doing a film like this on a relatively small budget give everyone the drive to make it even better?
I think it was frustrating for Neil because he’s so grand in his vision. I liked that because I think it had to be dilapidated. This film is grand and dilapidated at the same time. We had to get creative and work out how to do that. I like that, as stressful as it is for the production. Having worked on big budget films where there’s an abundance of money, sometimes you can get a bit slow. Like “C’mon let’s just do it!” When you have no money it gives it an edge.
What has been your experience with bigger films?
I had really bad experiences on big budget movies, and I’ve had good experiences as well. With “Hansel and Gretel,” I was very involved, very much in the loop. Other ones, you’re treated like a little pawn to be moved around. I found that very frustrating coming from theater, where you’re so in it.
By Simon Reynolds
Gemma Arterton has voiced her admiration for the latest James Bond movie Skyfall.
The Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters star – who played MI6 agent Fields in Quantum of Solace – told Digital Spy that she thought the film was “brilliant”, praising the series’ “wonderful” star Daniel Craig.
“I thought Skyfall was brilliant, actually,” she said. “I’m so pleased for all the Bond people for how successful it is.
“I saw them when they won the BAFTA for ‘Best British Film’. It’s like the Bond family. Once you’ve done one you’re still in the family. I’m always thrilled for them, and Daniel as well because he’s so wonderful.”
Arterton and GoldenEye‘s Famke Janssen face off in fantasy horror Hansel & Gretel, but the British actress confessed that the pair didn’t share stories about working on the long-running spy series.
Skyfall picked up two Academy Awards – ‘Best Original Song’ and ‘Best Sound Editing’ – at the Oscars yesterday (February 24).
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters opens in UK cinemas on February 27.