Welcome to Gemma Arterton Online, your best and oldest source for the english rose Gemma Arterton. We strive to provide you with news, photos, in-depth information, media, fun stuff and much more on our favorite British star! Gemma is most known for her roles in: St. Trinian's, Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans. Her upcoming films are Vita & Virginia, My Zoe and Summerland. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We hope you enjoy the site and come back often!

  M.   August 05, 2010

It was less than two years ago that most American filmgoers became familiar with Gemma Arterton, the 24-year old British actress whose all-too-brief tenure in Quantum of Solace ended in… well, oily fashion. Arterton has been more than a little busy (and conspicuous) in the time since, with another pair of blockbuster appearances culminating in this week’s new indie thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed — in which her title character puts up much more of a fight than her doomed Bond girl.

Arterton appears as Alice, who one day is violently kidnapped by a pair of mysterious hoods (played by Eddie Marsan and Martin Compson) in search of a ransom windfall from her wealthy father. Set almost entirely in a lone, fortified apartment — with Arterton bound, gagged or worse — director J Blakeson’s debut moves pivots from suspense to psychodrama and even to romance and back again, often in seconds flat. Along with his very game ensemble, Blakeson defies viewers to determine who’s playing who — and who has the upper hand, if anyone — from scene to scene.

Again, it’s a long way from Arterton’s first-half tentpole tandem of Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia (which featured her as a goddess and a princess, respectively) and her title role in this fall’s graphic-novel adaptation Tamara Drewe. But as the burgeoning star recently told Movieline, she’s more than grateful for the opportunity.

How are you?
I’m good! I really enjoy publicizing this film!

You do? Why is that?
Because it love it! [Laughs] It makes all the difference.

With four movies in one year, I imagine it does. You still have another, right?
Yeah. It’s really all this year’s consisted of. It’s good, though. This one and Tamara Drewe, I love talking about them.

OK! Let’s talk about this one. I felt so bad for you! It looked so hard to make.
It was in the respect that it was physically brutal. Obviously it was a controlled situation, but it wasn’t a walk in the park. But it was so satisfying. And it’s funny you say that, because I’ve noticed that when the women come in, they say “Oh my God, I loved it.” And the men come in and they feel a bit… strange. They don’t know what to say. They feel bad. I thought it would be the other way around — that women would be so outraged. But they love it. It’s weird. I think it’s because the guys don’t like watching a girl get beaten up, and they feel protective or something. I don’t know. It was really hard work, but I’d just been sort of prancing around for six months in a princess outfit, so I was like, “Thank God. I feel like I really am working now.” And I needed to that.

The director mentioned you blew him away in your audition and that he wanted to hire you on the spot. Do you remember what you did at the audition?
Yeah, I do remember that. I remember it really clearly. I received the script and loved it, and the casting director — who’d cast me in a couple of things before — said to J, “You should meet Gemma.” He said — and he told me this later — “Enh, I don’t think a Bond girl is really right for Alice Creed. I need someone who’s raw and not precious with how they look.” So he had this perception of me, which is exactly why I wanted to do a movie like this — to kind of challenge that perception. So I went in and did a really full-on scene. I actually think I performed it better in the audition than I did in the film, which I find happens often with me. And so yeah, he did. He said, “Let’s hire her now.”

I remember I was petrified of doing the audition because it was such a full-on scene. It was the scene with [SPOILER REDACTED], so it’s kind of a revelation and a shock and a horror and all of these things in one. I had to do that in an audition, and I think it went well. But I wanted to do that in a movie just because when J told me that story, I thought, “Oh. I’ll bet that’s what a lot of people think.”

And of course they do. Why should they think any different? I’ve done a ton of blockbusters. And I didn’t want to fall into the trap of only doing that, especially because the movies that I watch myself aren’t blockbusters, really. I mean, I appreciate them; I just went and saw Inception, which I guess is a different kettle of fish. And I want to make sure I have a long career. And it’s also boring playing goodie princesses all the time, honestly. I’ve been quite lucky in that they’ve been quite sparky and intelligent and witty. I wanted to play something that was like dirty and raw and not likable and controversial. I just wanted to challenge myself.

How did you work with Eddie and Martin to develop a comfort level with the kind of physicality we see here?
I think generally as an actor you have to be quite trusting. You often have to go into a situation with very little preparation most of the time and behave like you’re in love with a character, or… you just have to go for it sometimes. Which completely happened in this film. I think I was the first person cast; we started casting in January and shot in February. Eddie was cast next, and Martin was cast three days before we started shooting. And Martin, for me, is the one I really had to have this relationship with. We did these workshops together. I auditioned him. There was just this chemistry; we work well together. The chemistry thing is really important, I think, when casting films. A lot of the film rides in getting actors who work not only well together in a scene, but also just get on.

Some actors downplay chemistry as secondary to actual acting — it’s great if you have it, but fine if you don’t. Do you agree?
I do think that’s true. But if you can get that chemistry, it really helps. It really, really does. It’s just this inexplicable thing that makes something work. Sometimes it can be bad chemistry, and that works really well as well. Just to digress for a second, I made this film called Tamara Drewe (pictured at right) that’s coming out in a couple months’ time, and the casting is the genius. Everything about it is you just turn up on the set and act. That’s all you have to do. The casting director is amazing; it’s an amazing job if you get it right — it’s a fascinating job.

Anyway, so we’re all cast, and we naturally have this energy between us that was kind of weird. This weird sort of banter between me and Martin that manifests into the flirtation and all of that. With Eddie, he was kind of detached because he’s kind of a family guy. That worked really well. But you know, we don’t really go behave like “actors” on set. I mean, we talk about things like normal people, which is great. I love that — and it doesn’t happen sometimes.

Then we had three days of rehearsal, which was us practicing the physical stuff — the kidnapping and all that. It was shot in sequence as well, so this was the first thing we were going to do: The tying up, the clothes coming off, and the maneuvering. It was like a dance. It really was like a dance. In order for me to really go for it in that scene, I had to know exactly what’s going on and feel comfortable. And I did. I just felt comfortable, even all that tricky stuff — the nudity and what not. It wasn’t tricky for me; it was tricky for everybody else.

Yeah, really. I haven’t got a problem with it, honestly. The most awkward thing when it’s happening is how everybody else is. [Whispers] “Oh my God, she’s naked! Oh my God!” It creates a drama around it, whereas I’m like, “Look, let’s get on with it.”

You’re more than naked, though. You’re naked and tied up. That’s… weird!
Yeah, but you know, it was so relevant. It was completely necessary. We needed to see her petrified. She thinks she’s going to be raped. She thinks she’s going to die. She thinks that! And she’s completely humiliated. So when the tables turn, you f*cking know why, and you’re on her side. In Toronto, this got a huge cheer when [SPOILER REDACTED]. People were like, “Yes! F*ck!” So for me it was just similar to having to kiss an actor you’re not in love with in a scene. “Oh, I’ve got to do that scene. I’m not really into that…” But you just do it. That was the feeling for me. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. And also, I was really worried about the acting side more than anything else. That was kind of the easy bit, you know? I think everybody else was really nervous about it.

But to what extent is your presence as a bound, gagged and masked captor on a bed actually acting? We see you, in essence, as a physical prop for a good portion of this film — but obviously you’re still Alice.
I really took this job as an acting lesson — the whole thing. When we were doing all of that, they’d be in the scene. Eventually we’d come to my bit of the scene. Just say I was there, laying in the bed. And they’re doing the scene, or they’re tying me up or whatever, I’d try to feel how I would feel in that situation. I would try to act that out even though you couldn’t see it. It was exhausting. Because then, when the thing comes off my head and I have a confrontation with somebody, it all informs the next scene. Especially because we shot in sequence. It felt like we were doing a play. It felt like everything I did was important.


There was one scene we did called the mummification scene: I was sedated — not really sedated — and they taped me up, and I felt like I was suffocating. I had the ball gag in. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t move. Then they wrapped me up in a sheet and they carried me out. It was horrible. That, to me, was the most horrible bit of the shoot. I just felt like I couldn’t breathe and I had no control.


Why did you do it?
Well, first of all it was one shot. So J said to me, “I want to do this overhead in one shot; it’s got to be you.” I said, “OK… that’s fine. I’m sure it will be fine.” But it wasn’t fine. It was horrible. So then they cut me out, and they say, “Are you OK?” And I said, “No, not really.” “Well, can we do it one more time?” “Well, all right, then.” So we did it, and then the next time I did it I just tried to calm myself down. I just thought, “I’m fine. If anything happens, I’m fine.” And I hate this, because I’m not this type of actor, but it really informed the performance: this feeling, this physical feeling. And I knew was in a safe environment as well, and that it wasn’t going to get out of control. And I knew that I was the most powerful person on set in that moments because if I wanted to make it stop, it would stop.

That’s why I did say I wanted to be tied up at certain times because I wanted to feel that claustrophobia and restriction. The physical feeling will inform the emotion. Sometimes, when I’m preparing for a scene, I’ll change my breathing; changing your breathing changes how you feel. So the physical was very important. It really took a lot out of me. After the shoot my agent told me, “I think you’d better be more careful about which roles you choose, because you always end up really affected by them.” I never really thought about that, but I do. I do.

Even the roles in blockbusters?
No, not those.

How do you prepare physically and/or emotionally for those scenes or those characters?
You really have to dig deep for those roles — especially fantasy roles — because there’s not much that you can draw from in your own life experience and reality. Having now been in movies like that… I mean, I used to think, “Oh, movies like that are a piece of piss, really easy.” They’re not. They’re the f*cking hardest work you’re going to do because you’ve got to make the script sound alive. And they’re usually quite bad scripts. So you work really hard to keep your creativity up over a long period of time, whereas with Alice Creed it was four weeks and we were out. We were constantly going.

But for six months you’ve got to keep imagining and keep dreaming that you’re in love with that character and believe in the world. I always say credit goes to people who are actually good in those movies and make them somewhat believable. It’s really hard. Even when you see really amazing actors who are paying their mortgage or whatever, they aren’t great in the movie, you wonder, “How can that be?” Well, because the material’s not good enough, and so there’s not much you can do. So when you get given something like this where the material’s fantastic, you don’t really have to work as hard in a way. It’s easier to access things. They’re more human. It was refreshing for me to do this for that reason.