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