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Gemma Arterton • Biography and Facts
Name: Gemma Christina Arterton
Birthdate: February 2nd 1986 in Gravesend, Kent, England, UK
Height: 5′ 7″ (170 cm)
Hair: Brunette
Eyes: Brown
Nationality: British
Natural Accent: London / RP
Education: Graduated from RADA in 2007
Represented by: Sally Long-Innes at Independent Talent Group Ltd

Special Skills:
BASSC Certificate in Stage Combat (Distinction); Dance – Period, Elizabethan, Restoration, Waltz, Russian, Polka, Flamenco; Wide range of accents including regional British, American and Irish; Strong soprano singer

Other Experience:
Advanced National Diploma in Acting at the Miskin Theatre Company (Distinction); Member of the Masquerade Theatre Company in Kent, productions include The Massacre at Civitella and Gina in Guiding Star. Received the 2004 Best Supporting Actress for Kent Award.

Special Interests:
Music, gigs, film, socialising, drawing/painting, playing the guitar, making clothes and jewellery

Gemma Christina Arterton was born in Gravesend, Kent, England, on February 2, 1986. She’s an Aquarius. Her hometown is “just past the green belt,” she says. “It used to be a big port on the Thames. Now it’s just a weird in-between bit. There are a lot of creative people there, a lot of musicians. It’s just a bit downtrodden.” Gravesend is also famous for being the supposed death place of Princess Pocahontas, deceased, after a long journey, when she arrived at the mouth of the Thames. “I loved Pocahontas, but actually we don’t know if she was buried in the village. There’s a tomb, a statue, but they never found her bones in the vicinity, so nobody knows anything when it’s still a big part of the identity of our city.” Gemma was ten when the Disney version came out and was completely fascinated by it.

The English beauty was born with an extra finger on each hand, she has revealed. “It’s my little oddity that I’m really proud of. People are really interested but repulsed at the same time.” Being born with extra fingers – a condition known as polydactyly — affects one child in a thousand. Miss Arterton had the most common form, where a small, soft digit, which does not contain a bone, can be seen next to the little finger. The doctor who delivered her tied off the extra fingers with sutures and they fell off, leaving just small scars. “I was two days old when they got rid of them, so I can’t remember having them there. But it runs in my family,” she shrugs. “I’m proud of it.” Polydactyly runs in her family. “My dad had them, and my grandad. I feel like we’re one step ahead — a sign of things to come. We could do more stuff if we had extra fingers — faster texting, faster emailing, better guitar-playing.” She has also revealed she was also born with a crumpled ear, which was corrected through surgery. “I was born with lots of deformities.” Arterton still has small lumps on the side of her hands. But it doesn’t bother her at all. “It makes me different.”

Gemma and her younger sister Hannah (a musician and RADA graduate who was recently seen in BBC Atlantis and feel-good summer movie Walking On Sunshine) were raised by their cleaner mother and welder father, Barry and Sally-Anne. Her parents separated when she was five or six and her sister was three, so they shuttled between the two. “I’ve step-parents, who are like other parents,” she says. “It all works. We’re like the very, very modern family.” Money was short at that time. “We weren’t very well off. My mum was on benefits. She was really struggling to support us. It’s hard being a single parent with two really feisty girls.” The English thespian admits that “it would be naive to say their parents’s divorce “doesn’t affect you, but we were lucky that they were very loving. And I’m very close to Hannah as well so we had this real unit. It’s like we’re twins or something.”

Arterton believes that hard work and grafting are qualities that she’s inherited from her parents. “My dad [Barry Arterton] often works six days a week and has done since he was 14. He works as a welder, a metalworker. My mum [Sally-Anne Heap] as well. She’s a cleaner and they have to work very hard because they don’t get paid very much, so that was just what we grew up with. If I was out of work, if I didn’t get any work as an actor, I wouldn’t be able to just sit around waiting for the phone to ring. I’d have to do something.” Her upbringing has shaped her personality and career. “They work harder than most people. I got my first job when I was 14 and I was happy to work.”

Gemma and her sister Hannah (born in 1989) enjoyed happy childhoods marked by their parents’ encouragement to explore their artistic side. A family video shows that at age 4, she directed her sister in a remake of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. “We were always role playing.”

Music was an Arterton passion. “My mum’s really young at heart. She was like a teenager herself. She’d be going out clubbing, we’d be going clubbing. It was kind of crazy.” Her mother took her and her sister to Glastonbury and Womad, and introduced them to indie groups. “I was brought up quite liberally by my mum,” says Gemma. “My sister Hannah and I were quite confident kids. Everyone always used to say to us, ‘You seem older than you are,’ which was helpful. Mum’s very proud but she doesn’t go on about it. She was never that into film when I was growing up.”

Mother is always right. Gemma Arterton admits that she and her sister, Hannah, didn’t always give theirs the credit she was due when she was struggling to bring them up on her own on a council estate in Gravesend, Kent.

But one thing Gemma saw through the kitchen window as a teenager cemented it for ever. “My mum was out doing the gardening,” says Arterton. “She was wearing little hotpants and a crop top that said ‘Fuck’ on it, or something like that. She’s a punk, my mother.

This girl runs down the street, shouting, ‘Sally, Sally, Sally! Hannah’s getting beaten up over the park! Quick, quick!'”

At this point Arterton’s hands fly to her chest, clutched over her heart in a rush of pride. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she says. “She became like this lioness. She ran down the street barefoot, really fierce.

“She ran, and I ran as well. My sister was getting properly beaten up – there were five girls on her, pulling her hair and scratching her face. My mum just pulled them all off her and put her arms around Hannah.

“It made such an impression on me. Even now it really moves me – this love, this instinct to protect… and also the selflessness.”

It’s fair to say she is the way she is because of that ferociously loving woman in short shorts and an obscene crop top. “It was hard at the time,” says Arterton, “but I’m so very close to all of my family. My mum is the most incredible woman.”

Sally has been a great, non-judgmental shoulder for her daughters to cry on. “She doesn’t give a fuck about anything except that we’re okay,” she explains. “I think so many parents are smothering of their children. She’s not like that. She just cares that we’re okay and that’s the best thing about her.”

In her early teens Gemma sang in two bands, Violent Pink and Tourniquet; both, according to their frontwoman, were “terrible.” “We were hopeless,” she says, “trying to be punk rockers and not succeeding. I was just rubbish at writing music, so we’d do really bad covers of people like Marilyn Manson.” “We were angsty girl punks, I think that’s my thing. I am a punk rock star underneath that’s dying to come out.” Violent Pink was her band when she was still in school. “That was when I was in Gravesend. Yeah, we were a full part girl band. It was a kind of like angsty Alanis Morissette kind of stuff with harmonies.” In her teens she formed another band, Tourniquet. “I was the singer and we were punk/goth,” she winces. “It was that Marilyn Manson time. We were terrible – but I loved it.”

The two Arterton girls have been best friends since they were little and they’ve always supported each other. When Hannah was 18 she lived in Gemma’s London flat, auditioning for drama school and working in a Camden shoe-shop by day, cat-sitting by night as her sister roamed film sets and red carpets around the world. Sometimes, she got an invitation to join her. Her “work experience” the summer before she started at RADA was two weeks on the set of Prince of Persia, and she has had her share of plus-ones to award ceremonies and premieres. “Two girls who grew up on a council estate, sipping champagne next to Helen Mirren. Nutty,” Hannah says. “It’s just incredible that I’ve got my sister, who is also my best friend, in the same industry fighting the same battles, living the same nomadic lifestyle. That is the best thing ever,” she adds. Despite her sibling’s experience in the movie industry, Hannah feels she needs to go her own way. “She’s (Gemma) always there, in the same way that all big sisters are, but I think she understands that we’re quite different, and the only way to really learn in this industry is to live it and do it. It’s more about finding my own way and trusting my own instincts.”

But let’s go back to Gemma… At school Arterton was “cheeky” and easily bored. She was a bit of an indie girl. Or a geek, like she once said. It was on stage, in amateur dramatic productions, that her energies were more profitably harnessed. By 15 she had “itchy pants”, finding Gravesend too confining. She’d already been exposed to London life, visiting an aunt who was a student in Brixton, and she was always one of those provincial kids who dreamed of escaping to the big city. “There was nothing really going on [in Gravesend]. I definitely wanted to break free.”

Expectations for young people were not typically high. “You went to school and then you got a job and that was it.” But her mother’s side of the family had a history of artistic endeavour that made Gemma’s ambitions seem less hopeless pipe dreams than improbable, but not impossible, long shots. Her mother’s grandmother was a German Jewish concert violinist and a cousin is Eric Goulden, better known as Wreckless Eric, most notable for the 1977 Stiff Records single “(I’d Go The) Whole Wide World“. Such are the crucial fragments that make an ambitious teenage girl’s wild imaginings seem less fanciful.

“So I was raised listening to The Damned and The Clash,” she says. “I still love that music.”

Arterton said her acting prowess surfaced when she was very young, and named her first role in a school play as a defining moment in her career. “I played an ox in The Nativity, and I made sure that ox was good. I was about five or six and I was really put out, so I totally upstaged everyone else. Even baby Jesus. I was like, ‘[Don’t look at] him – look at this ox!’ People left saying, ‘That ox had a very good voice. I went well Method. I was hanging out in stables, eating hay. You know, the usual.”

Arterton quickly gravitated towards acting and began studying with theatre companies. While at Gravesend Grammar School for Girls, in Kent, she first appeared onstage in an amateur production of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Boy Who Fell Into A Book. Jane Fenlon, secretary of the Gravesend and District Theatre Guild, recalls: “We’ve got a lot of talented youngsters and you get used to seeing them, but Gemma was one of the better ones. “I remember her being a pretty girl who was friendly and really enjoyed acting.” Kay Caroll, who runs the drama group, adds: “Gemma was doing well as a child. She appeared in the school play, which was entered into a competition at a local festival, and won the best actress prize.”

After attending a grammar school in Gravesend, and attending a performance arts course, Arterton trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) on a full government grant. She was accepted at every school she applied for. “It shocked me,” she says. “I didn’t think I was drama-school material. I was this Dartford girl. My accent was really thick then.” She chose RADA not only because of its reputation as a breeding ground for the finest actors in the world, but also because of the proximity of its central London location to agents and casting directors, whose offices are close enough to keep tabs on students. Initially, though, she worried if she’d made the right decision. “I went through this whole thing of, ‘I’m common compared to all these Oxford graduates. I don’t know anything.'” She struggled with the accent for a while. One teacher told her to talk less. “She said, ‘You’re not doing yourself any favours.'” Gemma tried to be more demure, but then her dad spluttered into his Sunday roast when she asked him to please pa-a-a-ss the ketchup. Arterton enjoyed studying at RADA and felt she was open to the processes the teachers put her through. “I was quite chilled, so if I got negative feedback I could deal with it, even if it hurt. It’s good to go from somewhere that’s so intense, and where people are studying you, to a big romp like St. Trinian’s.”

Since graduating from RADA in 2007, Gemma Arterton has quickly become one of the rising stars of the British film industry, establishing herself in a broad range of eye-catching roles across film and television. Within months of graduation she was making her mark on stage and television, starring as Rosaline in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Shakespeare’s Globe and opposite Maggie Smith and David Walliams in Stephen Poliakoff’s BBC drama Capturing Mary. “On my first-ever day, in front of 50 actors, I had to do this monologue and I was petrified. My legs were shaking under my dress. It broke me in very quickly.”

Her feature film debut came later that year, when she appeared as Kelly Jones, the inimitable and unforgettable Head Girl at St. Trinian’s. The film, a reimagining of the classic Ealing Studios series, was such a success that Gemma reunited with co-stars Talulah Riley, Rupert Everett and Colin Firth for the sequel, St. Trinian’s: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold. “She’s the baddest of them all,” she says of her character. “She’s 17 going on 30.” But things haven’t always been easy for the Kent-born star. Arterton worked in a karaoke bar and on a beauty counter to pay the rent before landing the role of Kelly.

“It has actually been quite freakish. I don’t think it usually happens this quickly so I haven’t had time to get my head round it. It all feels very unreal. My family are very down-to-earth people. We are not showbizzy at all. They are proud and excited and want me to be me as long as possible. They are not from this world, which is really nice. I just want to stay as grounded as I can. The whole acting thing is quite alien to my family. When I got to RADA, dad kept saying: ‘But can you really make a living from this?'” Clearly she has proved that you can.

2008 proved to be even busier, with roles in comedy Three and Out, Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, and as Elizabeth Bennett in the BBC’s comic fantasy Lost in Austen. Capping it all were two stand-out performances which both made her a household name and further underlined her versatility as an actor: firstly, the title role in the BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, opposite Eddie Redmayne and Hans Matheson; and, secondly, a striking, subtly comic turn as Agent Strawberry Fields, foil to Daniel Craig’s brooding James Bond in the international blockbuster, Quantum of Solace. She was chosen from around 1,500 candidates.

When Gemma was cast as a Bond girl, she still had student debts to pay off. Bond would change her life forever. It did wonders for Gemma’s profile, and Bond producer Barbara Broccoli was, she says, instrumental in helping her win the part in Prince of Persia. Unlike other actresses who don’t want to be associated with the Bond franchise, she doesn’t have any shame in that film. That was really a good experience for her and she’s proud of being part of that British tradition. “Even when I’m an old, old lady, I’ll still be a girl. As long as I’m a girl when I’m 78 as well, I’ll be very chuffed about that. I’ve always seen it as such an honour. There’s not many people in the world who can say they are, or have been, a Bond girl, so you realise what an amazing thing it is, and worldwide. You don’t think many countries know about Bond but they do. It’s huge and it’s great to be part of something like that.”

When the 21-year old found out that she nailed a Bond girl part in Quantum of Solace, she sent a text message to her mother noting down “I got Bond!”. She heard about her Bond casting when shooting Three And Out. “We were doing the last scene in Gibraltar on a diving boat in the middle of the ocean, in scuba gear. The producer got a phone call from my agent and passed the phone over and he just sang the Bond theme down the phone to me. And I was like: ‘Oh, my God’. It was so sweet – Mackenzie (Crook) shed a tear because he’d witnessed such a big moment in my life, which he found very emotional. Then I had to dive off the boat. I had to pretend that I wasn’t overflowing with happiness, because of the scene I had to shoot. Then we had dinner and lots and lots of champagne to celebrate. It’s just a privilege.”

“I’ve read interviews with previous Bond girls and they’re always trying to justify why they did it. It’s an institution for God’s sake! When I’m an old woman my grandkids can say, ‘Nanny was a Bond girl.’ How brilliant is that? Of course, they’ll be like, ‘Look at her now. You’d never know…'” In addition to being a Bond girl, Arterton was also picked to be the face of Avon’s Bond Girl 007 fragrance, which launched in October 2008.

Bond movie producer Barbara Broccoli would later confess regretting killing off Gemma Arterton in Quantum of Solace because she would have liked to have seen the young Brit in 007’s arms again. Arterton was 21 when she was picked to play Strawberry Fields in Daniel Craig’s second outing as the superspy and admits she was too young and inexperienced to really soak up what it meant to be a Bond girl, so she was thrilled to meet up with Broccoli at Pinewood Studios in England on Global Bond Day (October 5, 2012) and discover the filmmakers regretted her oily death in the 2008 movie. She told the BBC: “I just met Barbara Broccoli in the corridor and she said, ‘I wish we hadn’t killed you off’. It would have been so good to come back.” Arterton admitted the time she spent on the Bond set was a lot of fun, but she was too “naive” to really get into the movie. She added: “It was my second movie and I just remember feeling it was a dream… There was a really good vibe on set and it was a great time.”

Winner of Empire’s Best Newcomer Award in 2009, Gemma’s career continued to go from strength to strength in a wide variety of roles. Having appeared alongside Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans and Kenneth Branagh in Richard Curtis’s pirate radio comedy The Boat That Rocked, she followed The Disappearance of Alice Creed, with key roles in two big-budget epics: Prince of Persia, directed by Mike Newell and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans, opposite Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington.

In 2010 Gemma made her West End debut in The Little Dog Laughed, a satire about Hollywood — alongside Rupert Friend, Harry Lloyd and Tamsin Greig — and The Master Builder opposite Stephen Dillane. Working him was revelatory. “The sort of things I want to get involved with are to do with meeting people, having the right chemistry, being comfortable enough to share your ideas and them not go, ‘oh, shut up, you silly girl’. Stephen had such belief in me and even said, if you ever want to direct something, I’ll do it. I do want to direct but I just haven’t got the confidence.”

In 2011 Arterton was nominated twice by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for her performances in Tamara Drewe, based on a Posy Simmonds graphic novel, and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. She’s also travelled to the State of Acre in Brazil in June 2011 to see the work of Sky Rainforest Rescue — WWF’s joint project with Sky to save a billion trees in the Amazon — and to raise awareness of the impact that the work is having on the ground.

In November 2012 she was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2012 International Film Festival of Marrakech.

Arterton is honest and welcoming, but is also so guarded about her private life that, in June 2010, she got married without anyone knowing much about it. The press only snatched some long-lens snaps of her looking radiant during an outdoor ceremony in Zuheros, Andalucia, Spain. Laughing opposite her was her seldom-talked-of groom, Stefano Catelli, who she’d kept so secret that, for a time, the press believed he was a Bond stuntman, but is actually an Italian businessman who works in the fashion industry. The former couple met in a London nightclub. They were introduced by Olga Kurylenko, her fellow Quantum of Solace Bond girl, and Olga’s then boyfriend, the actor JJ Feild. Gemma has admitted that being with someone who is not an actor helped to keep her ‘grounded’. Then, in February 2013, the press was playing catch-up again. Set against less-smiling pictures of her heading to a party alone came the headlines that she and Catelli had separated. She was, reportedly, devastated. She remained discreet and dignified. “It was a wonderful time and I have nothing bad to say about it. [Even if they don’t last] relationships can enrich your life in some way and then you move on to the next part — it’s all part of the process of living,” she said after her split. Arterton divorced in February 2014. “Obviously no one gets married to get divorced”, she says.

The Kent-born actress has worked non-stop ever since rising to fame.

Gemma Arterton has said that she will “always be sad” about missing out on playing Mary Poppins at the Olympics. She was approached to play the iconic magical character during Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, but was unable to work it into her schedule. Ultimately, Boyle chose to use several actors to play Mary Poppins. Arterton has “always wanted to be” the English nanny after growing up with the Disney movie. “I don’t regret anything in my life, but [missing the Olympics] is something I will always be sad about. It would’ve been a real moment.” Asked if she would ever consider playing Poppins in a remake, she replied: “I don’t think I would. The Olympics thing was perfect because I wouldn’t have been recreating Mary Poppins. I’d like to leave it as it is, I wouldn’t want to compete with Julie Andrews.”

Gemma had a busy 2013 ahead of her. Arterton starred in the action horror film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters as Gretel opposite actor Jeremy Renner who played Hansel. The 3-D film was set 15 years after Hansel and Gretel killed the witch who kidnapped them. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has proved itself to be a box-office hit, especially overseas. Rumour has it there’s a sequel in the works. Song for Marion, Byzantium and Runner, Runner were also released in 2013. On April 2013, Arterton filmed psychological thriller The Voices with Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick in Berlin, Germany. The Voices was directed by Persepolis director Marjane Satrapi whose work Gemma greatly admires. On August 2013, Arterton started filming Gemma Bovery based on yet another Posy Simmonds graphic novel and directed by Anne Fontaine. She learned French for the film and the shooting took place in Paris and in Normandy, France. She starred opposite much-loved French star Fabrice Luchini. Gemma felt it was very liberating to work with female directors for the first time in her career. “We can be more free. I’m not saying that it’s impossible with a man, but with a male director, there’s a distance that always establishes itself. Between women, we understand each other better. In the case of the Gemma Bovery character, it wasn’t evident to understand what she was looking for. Anne and I worked in symbiosis. First of all because it was the first time that I acted in French. I had to learn the language in five months.” Gemma remembers “exchanges as equals, leaving room for everyone on the set to be themselves and happy to be together.” So is it be better to work with women? “I hate to say it like that because it’s completely stupid and certainly not always true, but I felt that there had not been an ounce of condescension.”

Gemma Bovery opened in France on September 10, 2014 and took the French box office’s top slot, ahead of Cameron Diaz starrer Sex Tape and Lucy with Scarlett Johansson. The well-polished movie, which received warm reviews at Toronto, is being pushed by its distributor Gaumont as a strong candidate for this year (2014) Oscar’s foreign-language race. Let’s just wait and see what happens… It definitely has the potential.

The Voices and Gemma Bovery would change Arterton’s life in more ways than one. She found love again after her divorce. She dated French director Franklin Ohanessian from 2013 to 2016. Ohanessian was also the assistant director of Gemma Bovery, where Gemma played the lead role. “Franklin doesn’t like or really want to be in the limelight, but yes, we are together. We met when I was filming The Voices and hit it off. We speak in French and I regularly commute to Paris to be with him,” she said at the time.

They say a look can be worth a thousand words. And it seemed that Gemma Arterton’s new boyfriend French director Franklin Ohanessian didn’t need to voice his feelings as he was spotted gazing adoringly at his gorgeous girlfriend. First, the pair looked like they were having a ball on the sixth day of Wimbledon. Then, Gemma’s new beau was spotted picking her up affectionately as they were seen enjoying the Stevie Wonder concert in Clapham.

“I’ve got a French fella,” she grins. “We have a very weird way of speaking. He wants to practise his English so he speaks in English, but I’ll speak in French. Then sometimes we’ll have a completely French day, if I need to brush up. It must sound very strange.”

She laughs and says her dad has asked her, “When are you ever going to be with an English boy?” It’s just the way things happened, she says. “I like learning about other cultures, and I guess with my boyfriend, the fact we were learning each other’s language was another thing that I thought was great.”

Her divorce has not dulled her desire to have her own family one day. At the mention of kids she glows. “Would I like to have kids? Yeeeaah, of course. I feel like I’d be a fucking great mum,” she grins.

“I love kids. I feel like it’s probably what I’m going to be best at. I’m certainly built for it, that’s for sure!”

In January 2014 Arterton took the title role in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, the inaugural production at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the new indoor theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe. The luminous Gemma Arterton beautifully captured the multi-faceted quality of the Duchess – from the teasing playfulness with which she woos the socially inferior Antonio (the attractively trusting Alex Waldmann) to the calm aristocratic fortitude with which she meets death, but not before the poignant motherly request that her little boy be given “some syrup for his cold”. David Dawson was electrifying as her twin brother Ferdinand – lanky, with a warped elfin face and positively juddering with repressed incestuous passion as he pruriently imagines his sister in the act of sin with “some strong-thied bargeman”.

Being a Bond girl brought her instant celebrity, but it’s been a hard tag to shake off. “Even when the reviews came out for The Duchess it was always, ‘Bond girl tries to do theatre’. I didn’t even have a big part in Bond! I’m proud of it, but it is a bit weird that it’s always brought up.”

Towards the end of 2014 Gemma starred in Made in Dagenham, a stage musical about the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 concerning equal pay for women. It premiered on November 5, 2014 at the Adelphi Theatre in London. “I’ve always loved singing and we always had a musical family,” said the former Bond girl. “But I loved a bit of karaoke. Sometimes I’d go in the daytime with a mate and book one of those booths and sing for four hours.”

Arterton has “always been a singer, but the right thing hadn’t come along. I’ve always wanted to do a musical, but I wanted to do something that was original and that never had been done before. I’ve sung in films but not really, but yeah… So this is the first time in public.”

She’s been outspoken before on the pressures on young female stars to lose weight, but she’s also been burned on a few occasions, and she’s learning to choose her words more carefully. For example, “If you don’t get on with an actor you can’t say they were a twat. You can’t do it. There are people I’ve worked with who I’ve not particularly got on with but you have to be nice about them. I hate it, but it’s about protecting yourself.”

Gemma Arterton played Rita O’Grady, the central character in the show and also the film where the role was played by Sally Hawkins. Arterton’s portrayal of Rita O’Grady was perfectly balanced in strength and vulnerability, making her endearing and her performance extremely demanding. Arterton was supported by possibly one of the most colourful and funniest group of women ever, the blend of characters complement one another perfectly and the language used was, well rather blue but by no means gratuitous. The strength the lead female ensemble have was so powerful it actually made you wonder how the men in power at Ford dared to take them on.

The Kent-born beauty won the Newcomer in a Musical Award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for her musical debut in Made in Dagenham in November 2015. Having been born into a working-class family in which her mum became a single parent, Gemma says she can appreciate how tough it was for women back then. “It resonates with my childhood,” recalls the self-confessed feminist. “The British humour, the very strong women — it reminds me of my mum and her friends. They were like a gaggle of hens together.” Arterton is still “the most proud of that out of everything I have done” and mourns its passing.

In between rehearsals, Gemma still found the time to film A Hundred Streets opposite Idris Elba. A Hundred Streets is an independent film that aims to show the “real London” while raising money for charity. A Hundred Streets is the brainchild of first time moviemaker Leon Butler, a property developer who turned his hand to film-making after being inspired to tell the story of London’s ‘Big Society’. Mr Butler, who lives in Battersea, said: “Everyone lives harmoniously most of the time but mostly everyone lives in a bubble in London, it does have a great community but it has to be forced, really pushed. He added: “You see the many dark kitchen sink films or Notting Hill, Love Actually type films made about London. That is not the real London. Kidulthood and Notting Hill are both filmed in Ladbroke Grove but in Notting Hill you don’t see kids in hoods walking around.” The film, initially called One Square Mile, supported charities School of Hard Knocks, Storm, Bedhead Football Club and Cauldwell Children. A number of fundraising events have taken place alongside in the run-up to filming and youngsters from the charities have been given starring roles.

Arterton has recently started her own production company so that she can be a little more instrumental in restoring some balance into this male-dominated realm that is the film industry. “You need to take it into your own hands and create parts for women, and for female writers and directors. Otherwise, the process can be quite frustrating.”

“I had very bad experiences in Hollywood: it’s a very misogynistic world, crushing for a woman. Being a Bond girl and playing in lucrative films isn’t my goal in life. I created Rebel Park Productions with two friends in order to give more opportunity to women: actresses, screenwriters and comedians. We’ll shoot our first long-feature film in 2015: the story of Unity Mitford, a London aristocrat obsessed with Hitler, whom she met and loved morbidly. The subject is very controversial, but fascinating.”

“We want women in the industry to stop becoming increasingly frustrated. We don’t want to do feminist films, but films with women in them, there’s a nuance.” The first months were complicated: “We prepared ourselves well before we talked to financial analysts about our projects, but their response was always the same: ‘Where is the role of the guy’…”?

“After the musical, I’ll focus myself on producing with other women. There aren’t so many good roles for women out there. Cate Blanchett was complaining about it the other day. Even her! Nevertheless, moviegoers are predominantly female.”

Gemma considers herself a feminist, but, for her, the word doesn’t have the same meaning it had for our mother’s generation. “We don’t see men as oppressors who have to be slaughtered, it’s not the same battle… We want parity. Being a feminist is no longer a taboo! Keira Knightley, whom I dream to work with, is a feminist. That doesn’t prevent her from being sophisticated, feminine and swearing like a trucker.”

Brought up strongly feminist, and proud to call herself such, she has avoided the fate of other British stars, such as Keira Knightley and Kate Beckinsale, who’ve grown thinner the more famous they’ve become.

“I’ve had pressure to be skinny,” she admits. “I’m not interested. I like being feminine. I feel good when I’ve got a bit of weight on me. It’s what I want to portray.”

Admirable body image aside, she has not always been on the right side of feminists, finding her credentials doubted for “wearing heels and make-up and using my sexuality”. It’s symptomatic of a negativity she blames for putting young women off using that particular ‘f’ word.

“I like my sexuality. I love it when I see a hot babe down the street. I’m like: fuck yeah, man! Feminism is about celebrating women,” she argues.

She also says that the film industry is changing for women with encouraging speed: ‘It’s so different from how it was even five years ago.’ She hopes to contribute to this by producing projects of her own with strong female roles. ‘There are great stories that haven’t been told. I’d love to do a film about [silent film actress] Mary Pickford, or the first ever female barrister. And not just historical characters, but also stuff that’s more kind of female-centric.’

Rebel Park, the all-woman production company she has helped to set up, will hopefully launch its first project soon, possibly involving Saoirse Ronan, who Gemma worked with on the 2012 Neil Jordan vampire film Byzantium. Gemma, meanwhile, continues to push herself as an actor.

Gemma Arterton has done Bond, blockbusters and the Bard. And what has she learnt from all this? That bigger isn’t necessarily better.

The English beauty remains down-to-earth despite her fame and her success. How does she deal with that? “I just make sure that I have a normal life outside of work, make sure it doesn’t go to my head, or go crazy. But it’s brilliant, and I’ve been doing other films, and other things in between — smaller projects, which are really important too,” she says.

Gemma likes to challenge people’s perceptions of what she can do. “So many people say, ‘Oh, you’re just a Bond girl.’ And I think, ‘Because that’s all you’ve seen me do.’ They’re not going to think otherwise until I do something else.” Her main interest is to keep her work varied and choose fully rounded and interesting roles.

“I must say that I’ve been very lucky from the beginning. I was offered lots of things and I accepted everything. I followed my instincts. It’s been seven years that I’ve been doing this job and I have never had a career plan. I like to vary roles, to change from one style to another. Nowadays, I choose my characters more carefully. I’ll soon be playing in a musical in London (Made in Dagenham). I love singing. Almost as much as acting. It’s more physical, it comes from the guts. At school, I was always picked to sing, my body is an instrument…”

Gemma Arterton and Stefano Catelli became officially divorced, nearly three years after separating. On August 21, 2015, the actress was granted her divorce at the Central Family Court in London’s High Holborn. The former Bond girl was granted a decree nisi at a brief hearing, which neither she nor former partner Stefano attended. Court papers made public show the couple officially separated on November 1, 2012 and that it was on the date the couple separated that she came to the decision the marriage was at an end. Paperwork also states that a judge found that the actress was “entitled to a decree of divorce, the marriage having irretrievably broken down, the facts being proved being two years’ separation by consent”.

Arterton made four films back-to-back in 2015: A History of Love, The Girl with All the Gifts (a thriller set in a dystopian future), Their Finest Hour and a Half (in which she plays a propaganda writer during the Second World War) and Orpheline. “Before, I was saying yes for the wrong reasons,” she says. “I’m much happier now and really love the work.” Last year, she pushed herself really further with Orpheline, her first film entirely in French, which was directed by Arnaud des Pallières. Gemma co-starred with Adèle Exarchopoulos, Adèle Haenel, Nicolas Duvauchelle and Sergi López.

On February 4, 2016, she made her return to the London stages with Nell Gwynn. She had even been planning a bit of downtime after a hectic 2015. But when she read Jessica Swale’s script it was a “no brainer”. The part of Nell, like the woman herself, was “irresistible”. Swale’s play paints a picture of a remarkable woman. Nell’s mother was a brothel keeper and Nell was almost certainly a prostitute at some point — “Like one in every 10 women of the time,” says Arterton. Yet she became one of the first actresses to grace the hitherto all-male London stage, was praised by Samuel Pepys and won the heart of the king, who gave their illegitimate son a title, the Duke of St Albans, that still exists today. “I think he really did love her: on his deathbed some of his last words were ‘don’t let poor Nelly starve’,” says Arterton. “It’s extraordinary she managed to do all this at that time. She wouldn’t have been able to survive at court unless she was really sharp.” “Everyone thinks of Nell as a prostitute — and maybe she was. But she was also renowned for her wit, and later she was circulating in very high, intellectual circles and became much more refined.”

“If you talk to my mum about what she’s most proud of with her daughters, she’ll say it’s their independence, the fact that we’re both doing what we love for a living and earning money, being able to support ourselves. I’m proud to say that I can do anything off my own back. I’ve got my own production company, I can make my own films, any theatre I want to do I can do, and I’m so proud of that. Which is hard for a woman coming from the working class. There’s not many working class female actresses that are doing queens, duchesses, leading female roles, usually they are playing the wench, or they’re in EastEnders. When I was doing the Bond film, I remember somebody said to me, ‘You need to change your accent, Gemma. Otherwise you’ll only play the maid.’ And I said to him, ‘You can fuck off. I can change my accent for the part. I will not be changing it for my life, because I’m proud of where I come from.'”

In the past she has said she has become thoroughly middle-class, living in Battersea and preferring almond milk, but now maintains that “if you are born into a class, being that in your soul and your guts, you will never be anything else”.

Currently, she shares her time between her homes in south London, “with Brixton five minutes down the road,” and at the Buttes Chaumont (Paris). “When I want to see beauty, I come to Paris. When I want noise, I go to London. It’s an extroverted, coloured, and vibrant city. It’s where I work. London is the city of theatres and theatre is my passion.”

She has an agent in France now and is doing more films in French. She lives mainly in Paris when she’s not working. She loves the French capital, but as a vegetarian she’s not that impressed with the French diet. “I’ve educated my [former] boyfriend in how to be healthy because before he wouldn’t eat until like 4pm. He’d just drink coffee, then he’d have a massive meal in the evening, which would consist of meat and wine. I’d like to open a juice bar there, because there are hardly any.”

Five years ago, she was saying in interviews that she considered the acclaimed French stage and film actress Isabelle Huppert the best in the world. To her amazement, they’ve since been to dinner and now occasionally see each other at parties. Her best friend in Paris is Marjane Satrapi, director of The Voices, and her social circle also includes designers like Christian Louboutin. By comparison, in London, she says, her friends are mainly people she met growing up in Kent or at drama school. “I have a very small group of close friends, and I don’t really hang out with famous people, directors or fashion designers. But in Paris that is sort of who I hang out with.” She laughs, almost embarrassed at how things have turned out. “It’s weird!”

“I love Paris,” she says. “I love being able to speak French and work in French films. Being part of another culture and living in Paris has opened up a new world for me and it has made a big difference in my life. I also love the kind of attitude the French have: they just do their own thing and don’t care.”

Gemma turned 30 on February 2, 2016 and says it’s an age she’s looked forward to for some time. “I’ve been waiting to be 30 since I was about 12! I always felt like I was too old for my body and 30 feels right. I’m excited to see what happens. I’d like to have children, and I’d like to direct something, so we’ll see.”

Gemma Arterton starred as the legendary French saint Joan of Arc in George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan, which was broadcast live, to cinemas around the world, directly from the Donmar Warehouse on Thursday 16 February 2017. “Saint Joan has got a lot of soul and it’s poetic.” However, earlier last year, she admitted: “It wouldn’t have been something that I’d have imagined myself doing, to be honest with you. It’s not as though I’m the obvious choice.” She met with Josie Rourke and asked the director why on earth she had picked her for the Maid of Orleans. “I’m so not her; I guess because she’s religious and pure, and it’s not the type of thing I usually play. My characters have usually got a bit more sass.” Arterton said she felt honoured to be taking on a part she has been familiar with since her days as a student. “Even when I played the Duchess of Malfi, she was this kind of pure character — but still a bit of a flirt — and Joan is not that.” Rourke, though, said that Joan is possessed of a kind of radiance. “When Joan goes into any room, she can make people listen to her. She said she felt that I could play her,” Gemma told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye. Once she’d thought about the French heroine some more, the actress said she realised that, in fact, she’s attracted to playing headstrong women. “I’m drawn to those women who transform during the piece.”

One may expect great things from this talented, unique and vivacious English actress.

— Biography written by Gemma Arterton Online — (last updated on May 23, 2017)