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  Nicole   October 30, 2014

Gemma Arterton is the only Hollywood star I’m aware of who gets the bus to work: across the river, Battersea to Covent Garden, in by a leisurely 11.30am but not home until most of us are tucked up in bed. And so it will be for the next six months, all being well, as she plays to up to 1,400 people six nights a week (plus matinées on Wednesday and Saturday) in Made in Dagenham, the brand-new, big-budget musical of the 2010 movie, which opens next week.

I meet Arterton on a brisk October morning outside the stage door of the Adelphi, the Art Deco slab on the Strand that is her current home from home. She arrives alone and on foot, at a smart clip, in a pale pink sweater, black trousers and studded shoes. Doesn’t she get hassled? After all, she’s plastered all over London on posters for the show. ‘Oh, I don’t care,’ she says, wrinkling her nose. ‘If people stop me in the street, it’s no big deal.’ For all her success, she doesn’t regard herself as in any way different or more glamorous than the rest of us. ‘You can’t feel like that when you’ve hung around really glamorous people, the ones with the entourages, who wear their sunglasses indoors: you know the type.’

Arterton is not that type. At 28, she’s beautiful, for sure, with full lips, high cheekbones, a delicate frosting of freckles and brown eyes you could swim in: an English sex bomb in the classic style. But she quickly disarms all that. I’ve interviewed her twice before, and we’ve met in passing on a couple of occasions. I’ve always found her straightforward and unaffected, warm and chatty.

She ushers me into her dressing room, apologising for the décor. Even if you are resolutely unglamorous and spend a good deal of time on London buses, the room is surprisingly dowdy: chipped paint the colour of curdled milk; sofas stained and shedding their stuffing. Not that she’s complaining. The Adelphi, she says, is the first London theatre she ever came to. Her mother brought her and her younger sister Hannah, also now an actor, from Kent for the day to see Paul Daniels perform his magic, alongside leading lady Debbie McGee. ‘Who knows,’ she says cheerfully, ‘they probably sat on this very sofa.’

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