A fairy­tale rise

English ac­tor Gemma Arter­ton is on the road to star­dom, write Veron­ica Parker and Elle Hal­li­well

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

HER beauty helped her to land the role of a Bond girl in Quantum of So­lace, but Gemma Arter­ton is out to prove she’s more than just easy on the eye.

The 27- year- old Brit has had her share of suc­cesses and flops in re­cent years, but with ac­tion flick Hansel and Gre­tel: Witch Hunters al­ready show­ing box of­fice prom­ise and more than half a dozen big- bud­get films in the pipe­line, 2013 may just be her lucky year.

Arter­ton is a sexy assassin in the dra­matic fan­tasy film, play­ing a venge­ful bounty hunter bent on killing witches 15 years af­ter she and her brother Hansel ( played by Jeremy Ren­ner) were kid­napped by one.

Now they earn money by rid­ding the world of the craven con­jur­ers in this ac­tion- packed tale that co- stars Famke Janssen as an evil sor­cer­ess and Peter Stor­mare as the lo­cal sher­iff car­ry­ing out a witch hunt of his own.

‘‘ I loved be­ing a bit bad- ass and let­ting that ag­gres­sive side of me come out,’’ Arter­ton says. ‘‘ I trained very hard for three weeks prior to coming on to the set. I worked with top stunt and fight- se­quence pro­fes­sion­als and they really raised my game.’’

While Arter­ton’s first big break came af­ter she beat Si­enna Miller to win the lead play­ing a re­bel­lious teen in Bri­tish com­edy St Trinian’s in 2007, it was her role as doomed agent Straw­berry Fields in Quantum of So­lace that made Hol­ly­wood stand up and take no­tice.

Since then, the BAFTA nom­i­nee has played ev­ery­thing from a Mid­dle East­ern princess in Prince of Per­sia: The Sands of Time to a glam­orous jour­nal­ist in Ta­mara Drewe.

‘‘ I like to mix things up,’’ Arter­ton says. ‘‘ I need to chal­lenge my­self as I was afraid I was in dan­ger of be­ing type­cast and I’ve al­ways been de­ter­mined to prove my­self as an ac­tress.

‘‘ I feel I can play many types of characters and there are so many roles I would like to play as my ca­reer evolves.’’

Although she ac­knowl­edges play­ing glam­orous agent Straw­berry Fields in the 007 film led to her be­ing dubbed a sex sym­bol, it’s not a la­bel she really re­lates to.

‘‘ I’ve never thought of my­self as be­ing par­tic­u­larly sexy,’’ she ad­mits. ‘‘ I’ve al­ways had a cer­tain mea­sure of self- con­fi­dence and I can be rather fear­less, but there’s also a part of me that feels awk­ward and out of place.’’

How­ever, her lat­est role has done noth­ing to shake off her sexy sta­tus, with a leather corset and tight pants the bat­tle at­tire of her cross­bowwield­ing Gre­tel in the fairy­tale adap­ta­tion.

The Lon­don- based star says she left the most dif­fi­cult stunts to co- star Ren­ner.

‘‘ We be­haved like brother and sis­ter off the set and he can be quite fun and in­ter­est­ing to hang around,’’ she says.

‘‘ What’s spe­cial about Jeremy as an ac­tor is he is in top shape and can han­dle all the phys­i­cal stunts like an ex­pert and yet he also has this tremen­dous sen­si­tiv­ity.’’

Arter­ton, who was born to a work­ing- class fam­ily and grew up in Gravesend, Kent, wanted to be an opera singer. Af­ter be­ing ac­cepted into the Royal Academy of Dra­matic Art, she re­alised her tal­ent lay in act­ing.

‘‘ I love act­ing so much that even if I didn’t get the chance to earn my liv­ing from it, I was pre­pared to find some­thing else to do to pay the bills,’’ she says.

FAIRY­TALE FIG­URES: Gemma Arter­ton and Jeremy Ren­ner in Hansel and Gre­tel: Witch Hunters.

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