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  M.   January 24, 2013

BY CINDY PEARLMAN

Life as a former Bond girl means you’re always shaken and stirred. Four years after “Quantum of Solace,” Gemma Arterton is being hounded by paparazzi as she steps out of a cab in New York City.

She tells this reporter to hold on: “I’m sorry, but I have to deal with a situation right now.”

The self-deprecating Brit doesn’t have Bond around to kick butt, but she has her own way of defusing a situation. “I just had an issue with the photographers, which sounds so pretentious.”

That’s life when you have a movie on the horizon. She stars as Gretel in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” (opening Friday) opposite Jeremy Renner as Hansel.

“I always loved Hansel and Gretel as a child. It’s a poignant one for me. Who could forget the candy house?” she says. “Now as an adult, I say, ‘How could those kids have possibly eaten her nice house … tile and all?’ ”

Q. How is this “Hansel and Gretel” different from the family classic?

A. It’s 15 years from the end of the original fairy tale, and Hansel and Gretel have grown up. The film has a lot of action, humor and comedy, but it’s also very violent. It’s R-rated because we wanted to be very daring and quite controversial. In one scene, I garrote somebody, and it was a little bit brutal. But it’s fine because we’re fighting witches in a fantasy world, so you can have a bit of tough fun. There are no rules.

Q. How do little Hansel and Gretel get this tough?

A. Well, they kill in the fairy tale. As children, they get a taste for violence and then they are totally abandoned by their family. Now this is just their thing to do. In the beginning of the film, there is this flash-forward of their life like a storyboard. You see them in different places killing in different ways.

Q. What was it like to work with Jeremy Renner?

A. It was wonderful and he was one of the reasons I was attracted to this project. He’s such a truthful actor. When we were cast, he was busy doing “Mission: Impossible” and I was doing a play in London. We had spoken a few times on the phone, but we were on the same page. We had ideas about the relationship between brother and sister. As soon as I met him, we were very open-hearted with each other. We had a natural brother-and-sister chemistry.

Q. What is life like as a retired Bond girl?

A. Being a Bond girl gave me a little bit more exposure, but it wasn’t a major life-changer — except I do get a little bit more attention now. I don’t think my life took a huge departure.

Q. You star in the upcoming “Runner, Runner” with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake fighting over your character. Is that a good place to be?

A. I have equal amount of scenes with Ben and Justin. I just have a horrible life! [She laughs.] It’s actually a great cast and a good script. I play a very clever, witty girl who is also a powerful, strong woman. It’s set in Costa Rica in this seedy underworld.

Both of the guys were funny and neither took himself too seriously. I can tell you that in the film one of them is in love with me … and the other is in love with me as well.

Maybe there are a few steamy love scenes. You’ll have to wait and see.

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