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  M.   November 06, 2009

Gemma Arterton gets a breath of fresh air in between shooting scenes in her first major starring role. Gemma, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, plays a woman who transforms her looks – and her life – as she searches for that most desired thing: love.

The fast-rising actress plays the eponymous Tamara Drewe in Stephen Frears’s new film, which has been shooting on locations in West Dorset and London.

As a teenager, Tamara has issues with her looks, but in her early 20s she has cosmetic surgery on her nose, loses weight and transforms herself into a voluptuous beauty who returns to the rural town where she grew up and engages with the locals in country matters.

Tamara becomes romantically involved with three different men: Ben, a fit rock band drummer played by Dominic Cooper; Andy, the dashing groundskeeper essayed by Luke Evans; and Nicholas, the philandering literary retreat organiser played by Roger Allam. His wife Beth is played by Tamsin Greig.

Gemma explained that she knows ‘a lot of people just like Tamara’.

She said she found her character ‘lost in her expectations of being a modern woman in today’s world – the expectations of beauty and success – when what really desires is to be loved’.

The film is based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, which was loosely adapted from Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd.

Tamara, essentially, is Hardy’s 19th-century heroine Bathsheba given a modern makeover, except that a lot of what Hardy explored in terms of how women define their feelings continues to hold true today.

Frears has another couple of weeks to spend shooting the movie, which was developed by BBC Films and Ruby Productions. The picture will be released next year once BBC Films and Momentum, its distributor, sort out film festivals and dates.

Meanwhile, Gemma will soon go into rehearsals for director Jamie Lloyd with fellow Tamara Drewe star Tamsin Greig – and Rupert Friend and Harry Lloyd – in the wicked comedy The Little Dog Laughed, by Douglas Carter Beane. It begins preview performances at the Garrick Theatre on January 8.

Gemma, along with Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston, also had success at the London Film Festival with the taut psychological thriller The Disappearance Of Alice Creed. (Source)

Tamara Drewe (2011): Behind the Scenes – 2009