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.   September 10, 2010

Gemma Arterton’s rapid rise has brought her leading roles on stage and TV but not, until now, in film. Will a cartoon-strip character propel her into the big league? She talks to Kira Cochrane

Given the pace of her progress over the last few years – the speed and spills of her path from schoolgirl to starlet to the precipice she now teeters on – you could forgive Gemma Arterton some slight motion sickness. Ten years ago she was a grammar school girl from a Gravesend council estate, the lead singer in teenage bands with names such as Tourniquet and Violent Pink, spitting and screaming out Marilyn Manson covers. Five years ago she was a student on a full scholarship at Rada, rooting around her sofa for pennies to pay the fare to her job as a pub karaoke host. Then there’s the whirl of the last two years. Fourteen jobs in 24 months: bit parts and better roles, both rotten and rave reviews, and red carpets. And now, here she is, at 24, playing her first lead in a big budget film, as the title character in Tamara Drewe. And she’s good. Perhaps star-makingly good.

If Arterton is suffering emotional whiplash, it doesn’t show. We meet in a London hotel, and I’m immediately impressed by her irrepressible body language. She doesn’t just cross her legs, she pulls one foot right into her torso, then replaces it with the other, and when she laughs, as she often does, she throws her entire body into the joke. She’s called herself a motormouth, but is clearly trying to contain that impulse. It doesn’t quite work. On more than one occasion she says something, pauses a beat, then flings a hand at her mouth exclaiming: “Oh God!” (She suggests that she’d love to play Kate Bush, for instance – but only if Bush died. “Oh God!” she says immediately, “I can’t believe I just said ‘if Kate Bush dies’. It’s so morbid. God forbid. I love her! She’s one of my favourite artists! I’d be really upset. Oh God!”)

In Tamara Drewe she plays a knowing, successful young journalist whose return to the small country village of her childhood provokes havoc among the locals. The film is based on the graphic novel of Posy Simmonds’s brilliant Guardian comic strip, which was loosely inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Arterton says she loved the script because it contained “the first real woman I’ve read, written by a woman, who was flawed and completely modern and facing the issues that women face nowadays. She wants to be loved, she wants to be successful, she wants to be popular.”

And she is popular – especially among the men of the village. In flashbacks we learn Tamara was an unglamorous teenager with an enormous nose, who was heartbroken and angry when she was dumped by her first serious boyfriend. (Arterton keeps the bulbous prosthetic conk from the film in her bathroom.) Since leaving the village, Tamara has had rhinoplasty, and her new nose is the cherry on top of a full-scale transformation. The first time she walks into a local gathering, it’s in an eye-catching pair of shorts – and not the ones Arterton originally had in mind. “The costume designer and I said, shall we go for those lovely culottes that make you look nice and slim? So we tried those, and Tracey and Alison [Seaward and Owen, the producers] went, ‘No! We need to see her arse hanging out because of the punchline.'” And lo, Arterton had to wear a pair of cut-off jeans so short they could justify the exhalation of pure wonder and concern delivered by co-star Tamsin Greig: “I hope they don’t give her thrush.”

Arterton has said she was born with polydactyly – an extra boneless digit on each hand, both of which were quickly excised – and a crumpled ear; I wonder whether she was able to empathise with Drewe’s ugly duckling years. She grimaces and wobbles, “Yeah … no.” She seems to have been burned by questions about her looks before. If she acknowledges she’s attractive she can be accused of hubris, and if she doesn’t she can stand accused of false modesty. “I don’t like going on about my looks because then everybody’s like, ‘Oooh, shut up,'” she says, “but when I was younger, I wasn’t special or hot. None of the boys really fancied me. I was just quite normal.” Does she ever worry about being typecast as the object of everyone’s lust? She laughs uproariously. “It keeps me awake at night! Some people worry about famine, but I just worry about people lusting over me! No,” she’s more serious. “I’ve never really thought of that.”

I only ask because, while Arterton has had very good parts on stage (as Rosaline in Love’s Labour’s Lost, for instance), and TV (as the lead in Tess of the D’Urbervilles), much of her film work has been in the kind of sidelined sex object roles that must make the acting profession wearying for talented young women. She played a groupie in The Boat That Rocked, a sexy schoolgirl in St Trinian’s, and Agent Strawberry Fields in the most recent Bond film, Quantum of Solace, a role she has described as “secondary totty”; within minutes of appearing on screen, she was half-naked, having a post-coital moment with Daniel Craig, and not long after that, she was dead. She’s had roles in two Hollywood swords-and-sandals epics – Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia – both of which had a mixed reception. It’s a CV that has, at times, looked likely to lead her to the end of a very short cul-de-sac by her late 20s.

But other than the West End play The Little Dog Laughed, she hasn’t done any new projects this year. “I think for the first two years I was running along with it,” she says, “and now I’ve been able to take time to assess my career and breathe a bit. At first, I was just so amazed that I was getting offered work that I’d say, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,’ and I think I was quite nervous of never getting work again, or of being forgotten.” She admires Stephen Frears, who directed Tamara Drewe, for only taking on work that captures his imagination; she knows that is a luxury worth indulging if you are able: “I just want to feel excited with each project, and proud to do it, and proud when it’s finished.” Has she ever done work she’s not proud of? “Yes,” she says, very deliberately. What? “I’m sure you could guess,” she laughs.

If Arterton follows her desires, she could have an unusual career; her interests tend to be offbeat and eclectic. The first time she ever thought about acting as anything other than “dur-da!” she says, making jazz hands in the air, she was 17 and had sat up until 2am watching Björk in the relentless, emotionally draining Lars von Trier film Dancer in the Dark. “It fucking freaked me out, and then I watched Breaking the Waves, because I just wanted to see more of Von Trier’s stuff, and Emily Watson’s performance was even better than Björk’s. I mean, Mary Poppins is actually my favourite film, but if anyone came and had a look at my DVD collection they’d be quite shocked, because it’s pretty dark. A friend once looked at it and asked, ‘God, have you got a real thing about capital punishment?'”

At heart, Arterton says, “I see myself as a character actress, but that’s not the way the rest of the world sees me.” To give an idea of her sensibility, she describes her harrowing part in the recent film The Disappearance of Alice Creed – in which she plays a kidnap victim who is handcuffed to a bed, before being stripped and made to urinate in a bucket – as “a breath of fresh air”.

Her time at Rada “broadened my horizons as an actor,” she says, “because they cast you in roles that you’re never going to play after you leave, ever. So I was playing crack addicts and warrior kings and Othello. It gave me a really burning desire not just to play the romantic heroine all the time.” Not that she found the experience easy. In Arterton’s family, she says, everyone has always had practical jobs – her parents divorced when she was five, and her mother has worked as a cleaner, her father as a plater and welder. At Rada, she had “a hang-up that I was different to everybody else. I felt like I was too common to be there, and didn’t have a good enough education – even though I had an amazing education. I went to a grammar school and got straight As at GCSE. But I didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge, and there were lots of graduates, very bookish, and I suppose I was from Gravesend and had quite a thick estuary accent then, and it was just my own insecurity. I’m a very instinctive, impulsive actor, and after a while I realised there were intellectual actors there who wished they were more earthy. I realised everybody had hang-ups.”

Drama school prepared her for acting, but not for all that would come with it. “I used to think, ‘Oh yeah, it would be good to go on the red carpet and be photographed.’ Now, when those events come up, I think, ‘Oh my God! I can’t wait to go home.'” Last year, after a Bafta event, the Daily Mail described Arterton as having a “double chin” and looking “distinctly jowly”. She is a size 10. “I don’t know why there should be pressure for actors [to be thin], because they should be able to play every type of person, but it is an issue. It’s a load of rubbish, honestly. It’s a weird position to be in, because as somebody who really takes acting seriously, this stuff is so trivial. No one would say to Judi Dench, ‘Do you eat every day?’ or, ‘How does it feel to be a curvaceous woman?’ But as young actresses, we get it, and you just think, ‘Eurgh’.”

In general, Arterton seems calm, grounded and content; earlier this year she married sales manager Stefano Catelli, and she refers often, happily, to her family and friends. As she stands on the brink of huge success, would she welcome becoming as famous as, say, Angelina Jolie? “Absolutely not,” she says. “I’m really happy as I am. I’ve had a small taste of that sort of thing over the last two years, and it’s not really where my heart lies. I’m really happy doing these films, and doing theatre, and living in London, and spending time with my friends. I’m doing the job I love, and if it got any bigger than that, I wouldn’t enjoy it any more.” If she keeps turning in performances this good, she might not have a choice in the matter.