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 09, 2010

Call her the Not-It Girl.

For the past few years, the English actress Gemma Arterton, 24, has been on a trajectory that Hello! magazine dreams are made of: graduation from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; roles in a gritty Guy Ritchie movie (Rocknrolla) and a frothy Richard Curtis one (Pirate Radio); starring as Elizabeth Bennet and Tess (of the D’Urbervilles) on British TV. Then (drumroll), the break that every starlet fantasizes about: playing Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace.

Arterton rolled in flagrante with Daniel Craig, and yes, it was good for her. Hollywood and its megabudgets came calling. In Clash of the Titans, she got both a death and a resurrection scene – setting her up for the sequel, which she’ll film next year. In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, she intoned mystical prophecies like a pro. It appeared that a new It Girl had arisen.

Except for this small hitch: “I don’t want to be an It Girl,” Arterton said in an interview in Toronto last week. “I didn’t plan to be in those types of movies. I’d always seen myself as a character actress. I felt, God, I’ve got to do something about this, otherwise I’ll forever end up being Princess of Something. Or not forever – you don’t have much shelf life that way.” My guess is that Megan Fox, whom Arterton resembles a little (light eyes, dark hair, full mouth), would concur.

So when the script for her new drama, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, came her way, Arterton jumped. (It opens in select cities starting Friday.) It was the opposite of what she’d been doing. It’s a micro-budget indie from a first-time writer/director, J. Blakeson. Instead of sprawling, it’s claustrophobic: three characters, two sets, one taut set-up. Vic (Eddie Marsan, who played the raging driving instructor in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky) and Danny (Martin Compston) kidnap rich girl Alice (Arterton) and hold her for ransom in a sound-proofed house. But no one is exactly who they seem, so each plot twist adds a layer of complexity. And instead of playing princess, Alice is stripped naked and slapped around. She screams, she swears, her makeup smears. Her hair’s a mess.

Naturally, Arterton’s handlers tried to talk her out of it. “I had to put my foot down,” she said.

To whom? “To the powers that be,” she answered, laughing. “I’m not saying anything more! But Alice was exactly what I was looking for. I’d felt quite frustrated that I hadn’t actually acted for a while. This reminded me why I’m in it. I’d become quite jaded making those Hollywood movies.”

The setting for our interview was a kind of metaphor: We were at the Thompson Hotel, Toronto’s latest stab at Hollywood-style hipness. But bizarrely, we were stuck down in the barely finished basement, in an isolated, echo-y conference room. “Isn’t it nice – they’ve tried to make me comfortable by recreating the set of my movie,” Arterton joked. The betwixt-and-between-ness made me wonder how anyone gets loaded onto the It Girl conveyor belt, and how scary it is to step off.

“I’ve always been quite naive and wide-eyed about everything,” said Arterton, who grew up in Kent with a younger sister and their single mother, a cleaner. “I loved acting, but I didn’t expect to earn money from it. Especially for the first two years, I jumped on everything I was offered.

“Then Bond came along, which is just like, you’ve got to do it,” she continued. “Then with the other movies, people say, ‘You should really do this, this is an important movie.’ You think, ‘Oh, yeah.’ But it’s surprising who actually does go for these roles.” Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes headlined Clash of the Titans, after all, and Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina starred in Prince of Persia for megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer. “You think, ‘There must be some integrity in it.’ It’s weird when you’re surrounded by giants – massive names, the most successful people in the film industry – and I felt like nobody. It can be quite overwhelming.”

But after spending three hours in the makeup chair every morning, having hair extensions put in, being pressured into the gym to work on her arms – “and if I had a zit it was like the whole studio went into meltdown” – Arterton found herself wondering what she was doing there. “I’m so not into that,” she said. “It’s so boring. And I find it so uncomfortable when people say” – here she slips into a honking American accent – “‘You’re so hot! You’re so hot right now!’ ” She shakes her head. “It freaks me out, actually. Finally I realized I don’t have to do everything they offer. I can be selective. I don’t have to go the Hollywood route if I don’t want to. Not that I wouldn’t do another movie like that, because they are fun. It’s just, there are no rules.”

Doing Alice Creed, however, “felt like how it should be,” Arterton said. “Working with other people really intimately. Concentrating on the text. The thrill of doing good work, of transforming, and understanding the psychology of a character that you aren’t. Also it was so fun, because we were all in it for the right reason. There were no grand designs: It wasn’t going to become the biggest-selling movie of all time, it wasn’t going to win an Oscar. It was simply that we had to do it, for ourselves.”

It was the right move. The perception of Arterton has shifted. The roles she’s getting offered, and the directors offering them, have risen artistically. Her next film, Tamara Drewe (she’s the title character), is a comedy directed by Stephen Frears; it will premiere at TIFF and then open in October. This fall she’ll take the London stage in Ibsen’s The Master Builder, opposite Stephen Dillane. She’s got movies in development with directors Michael Winterbottom, Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) and Alan Rickman.

“That’s the conveyor belt I want to be on,” Arterton said. “Actors are supposed to play people who are real, from real life. For me, it’s so important to stay in contact with what’s real, so you can use it. I think often in Hollywood, people are so surrounded by unreality. I live at home, in London” – with stuntman Stefano Catelli, whom she married in June – “and I don’t really hang around actors or live the life, so I can see what’s happening much easier than when you’re living in that bubble.”

She’s pretty clear-eyed about what’s happening now. “Of course, everybody’s like [American accent], ‘We’re so happy you did that movie, it’s fantastic!’ ” Arterton laughed, but she doesn’t care who takes credit for it. As long as she doesn’t have to be It.

Johanna Schneller
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail