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.   October 08, 2010

It’s just a fluke of industry timing and economics that Gemma Arterton happens to have opened four films this year in the United States, the last of which — Tamara Drewe — begins its run today in limited release. It’s stranger still that we won’t see Arterton again for at least another year — just when we’d gotten used to her charm, poise, talent and allure. What gives?

A few months after we’d met to discuss her turn as the title character in the twisty, terrific thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Arterton and I convened round two to talk over Tamara Drewe, director Stephen Frears’s adaptation of the celebrated graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. The actress once again plays the title character, a hotshot young newspaper columnist who stirs up a cauldron of lust, jealousy, gossip, regret, infidelity and not just a few mixed signals upon returning to her bucolic hometown in the English countryside. Artists vie for her affections, exes wonder what they’ve missed (especially since the nose job that turned ugly duckling Tamara into a brassy young swan) and a pair of teen girls conspire to destroy her life.

Part soap opera, part comedy of manners, and part decadent English romp, the film stands in fairly direct contrast to everything preceding it in Arterton’s last year, including Alice Creed and two studio tentpoles (Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time). She spoke recently about crossing the 2010 finish line, her costumed set experiments, her philosophy about screenwriting, and how she plans to follow up in 2011.

Well, here we are again. You’ve been on the nonstop publicity circuit; how are you holding up?
I’m fine. This is the last bit. You know, you do a movie — and I’ve done four moves this year — but then they have separate release dates. So you’re doing a junket in London, and then you’re over here. This is like the neverending film, Tamara Drewe: It went to Cannes, then it went to Toronto and now… Well, anyway.

But a couple months ago you were saying how proud you were of it!
Yeah, I am proud of it. I’m proud of the whole film, because when I first read it I wasn’t sure about it. I loved it; it’s always a good sign when you’re reading easily, when you don’t want it to end. But I wasn’t sure about how on Earth this was going to translate. I think if the wrong person directed it or the wrong cast were in it — or any element turned out wrong — it could have been the worst movie ever in the history of film. So I’m really proud of it for that in that respect. I honestly believe it’s underestimated, and that Stephen’s work on this film is completely subtle and brilliant. It’s such a tricky tone to get right, but he does. Also, I have such great memories of it; I had such a great time on it. Even if it wasn’t that great a movie, I’d still be proud of it.

As a member of that ensemble — playing the title character — obviously your performance went a long way to achieving that tone. How did you approach it?
Well, it was based on a cartoon, so the characters are kind of archetypal and could by quite caricatured. Each functions in a different way. The men are the archetypal men — the protector, the father, the lover — and then the girls are like this Greek chorus… You know? And my character was this weird character in the middle of it all. She’s the catalyst. But even though it’s called Tamara Drewe, it’s not like she’s the lead character. She’s just the one who creates this mess. She’s the root of the piece, but I didn’t know how I was going to root it. She’s quite flighty and flippant and promiscuous, obviously. So my big task was to contradict this frothiness and fun with her utter desperation and neediness and loneliness.

Stephen casts correctly and lets his actors do their jobs. He spends his time trying to make it all work rather than get the right performance out of somebody. He’s not trying to get you to a certain character; that’s your job. You’re responsible for that. He just reins in and guides it in a way.

There were the scenes with me and Dominic [Cooper, who plays Tamara’s rock-drummer lover]. We were quite away from the rest of the film — all the drama that happens in the rest of the house. We didn’t see any of that, so we were quite fun and frivolous and playing around. Sometimes Stephen would tone it down a bit. That’s how he managed. It’s like spinning plates: He had to keep an eye on everything that was going on to get that perfect tone — which I’m still not exactly sure what it was.

How did the book influence the character? Did Stephen regard it as the bible or just a source.
Oh, hugely. Hugely. If someone’s given me this detailed character study, I’m going to use it. That was a godsend, actually. We did change certain elements of it, but we were quite faithful to things that were said, the way they dressed, they way they move. We even copied the landscape. But it was a godsend for Tamara. Tamara doesn’t have anyone she relates to in the piece. She doesn’t have any friends or anyone she can tell her inner thoughts to. In the book she does; she has thought bubbles and things like that. Luckily I could use that as a very, very detailed baseline, then use my own experiences and people I know. I based Tamara on someone I know as well, so it helped to work out her inner life. That’s the bit that’s very vague.

Your co-star Luke Evans said something interesting, which was that he believed there was a bit of your characters in all of you. Do you agree? What part of Tamara is in Gemma Arterton?
I think it’s not her character that I’m similar to. It’s probably the way she is with people. I think I’m most like her façade — not her inner soul, not that dark bit. All the things that came naturally were the charming, fun things — the sex-kitteny, bouncy, bubbly thing. But the inner world of Tamara is really desperate. She’s having this identity crisis and she has no confidence whatsoever. That was the interesting bit for me, because that was the bit I needed to work out to play her.

So the poster…
[Winces] Yes.

What do you think of the poster?
Well, there are a few posters, you know. The one in the UK doesn’t have the hot pants on it. The one in the UK is one of me looking mischievous with the boys in the background. For the rest of world they used this one. I always imagined what the poster would be; I always thought it would be the book cover, but with my face — like an illustrated me. But of course they don’t do that because then you wouldn’t know who’s in the film. I think it’s interesting that they chose that image, because that’s the Tamara Drewe who grabs everyone’s attention. She deliberately decides to wear those clothes; she walks through the fields barefoot and climbs over the stile knowing they’re all there. It’s an attention grabber — she does it for a reason. There’s an absolute reason. So it’s interesting that’s the attention grabber to get people to come and see the film.

But it’s actually deceiving. I’ve had friends who’ve seen it, and they were really shocked because they thought it was going to be some romcom — just from the trailer and the poster. And they’re deceived because it’s actually a lot darker. It just surprises them. That’s nice. But for me personally it’s just kind of weird seeing myself in those hot pants everywhere. Oh God. They always do that: Choose the sexy image to distribute.

But you look like a comic-book character — like a superheroine in a way.

Did it resonate with you at all that way?
No! I was just hung up on the bloody hot pants.

It’s not like they can put pre-rhinoplasty Tamara on there. How did the idea of that physical change affect you personally or psychologically, both on- and off-camera?
It was interesting: When I did those scenes with the nose, I went on set with the nose, hair, school uniform, flat chest, nose… absolutely not sexy at all. I walked on set and I made myself a cup of tea. And someone told me I wasn’t allowed that because it was for people who were working on the film. I was amazed. I was kind of loving it, actually. And then I walked around; I said hello to Roger Allam, and he ignored me: “Who’s this weird schoolgirl who keeps coming up to me.” Then I talked to the stunt coordinator for a good hour about just anything, and he didn’t know it was me. At lunchtime he came up to me and said, “You know, it’s really good you got this gig playing Gemma’s younger self.” I couldn’t believe it. I said, “No, it’s me. It’s Gemma.” And he couldn’t believe it.

So it was weird. People related to me differently. I don’t know that’s because they didn’t know I’m an actress — people always treat you differently. The lead actress in a film gets pandered to and stuff. But it was interesting to me because I was so invisible on the set, and Tamara feels like that inside — like she’s nobody. And that’s why she has to make something of herself, and she does it in a way that she thinks is the successful way: Make yourself look beautiful, wear sexy clothes, be more confident… and it’s really false. She doesn’t do it well. She almost does it well, but ultimately it all falls away.

You’ve mentioned about this film that sometimes your character’s motivations weren’t always clear. Do you ever find yourself second-guessing the character — and thus the script and/or yourself — as shooting goes along?
Yeah. I think whether it’s resolved in the script or not, you have to revolve it in your head. With this next character I’m playing, famously nobody can pin her down. It’s a character that’s never been explained. Ibsen wrote it.

What’s the project?
It’s The Master Builder [at Almeida Theatre in London]. I’m playing Hilda Wangel, who’s this weird, ethereal woman. You never know if she’s a devil or angel, or what on Earth… She’s the only character in the whole piece who you have no idea why she’s there. So I have to work it out. That’s great, but you have to do a lot of work. I’ve done so many jobs where I have to make up a story just so I can believe in it and root it because it’s been underwritten. So I believe you’re right; sometimes you have to find a way to make it up or else you’re acting off of nothing. Though I felt like with Tamara, that was OK, because she was in chaos herself. I feel at the end of the film it’s still unresolved.

You’ve mentioned this dilemma before. Why would you do something that’s underwritten?
I think those roles exist that are so brilliantly written, but you have to really look for them. I don’t mind doing the extra work, but for me it just feels like a shame. I don’t know. There isn’t any reason a script shouldn’t be brilliant when you first start a project. The script should be brilliant. I’ve done projects where the script has changed so much that I never would have done it in the first place if it was going to turn out the way it has. My character’s been totally rewritten. There is no reason it should be like that. People have the whole of their lives to write scripts! When I did Alice Creed, for me that was a character that was so well-written and every last thing was thought through. J [Blakeson] was writing the script for four years; all of his passion went into it. It was perfect. We didn’t change a word. There is no reason it shouldn’t be like that. But time and time again you read a script that is incomplete. It’s been rushed or written so that a certain formula works.

But that’s OK. Successful movies are made like that. But for me, I’m looking for those scripts — and I’ve read a few now — where I go, “This is brilliant. They really care about these characters when they’re writing. Everything works well together.” But not every script is like that. And I’m not saying I wouldn’t play an underwritten character, either, because otherwise I’m excluding myself from lots of things.

You’ve taken this year to do a lot of publicity and promotion. Have you been working on anything else at all?
No. This year has been insane.

I guess this is work today, though.
Well, it’s the other side of it. It’s just as valuable, I suppose — and just as hard, if not harder. I did a play at the beginning of this year, and I’m just about to do another one I suppose, so that’s my therapy, I suppose, from all of the press and other extreme of acting. But I had four movies — and two of them were monster movies, so they needed a lot of time. Next year I won’t have anything coming out, and so that’s the year when I’ll do the other side of it — doing the craft and working, and nobody will see me for a year. Which is exciting for me! [Laughs] I feel like I’ve been overexposed.