For­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - | FILM -

koff film for the BBC. In 2008, then still 20, Arter­ton was cast as Straw­berry Fields in the Bond film Quan­tum of So­lace and as the lead in a TV adap­ta­tion of

Tess of the d’Ur­bervilles. The “Bond Girl” tag can be a bit of an al­ba­tross. Many are the ac­tors who fail to cap­i­talise on that sup­posed big break. But Arter­ton dug in. We shall say as lit­tle as nec­es­sary about the St Trinian’s re­vival. She had bet­ter luck with Stephen Frears’s Gemma

Bovery and the ex­cel­lent hor­ror The Girl With All the Gifts. Mean­while, Arter­ton was con­sol­i­dat­ing a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion on stage. In the past year alone, she has played Saint Joan and Nell Gwynn. She also ex­celled in the mu­si­cal ver­sion of Made in Da­gen­ham.

“The theatre has al­ways been my first love,” she says. “I just love it. I love to be able to go out and just do a play. I like to be able to tell a whole story and have it be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent ev­ery night. I love that chal­lenge. I love to take on some­thing re­ally dif­fi­cult and work at it. That’s why I be­came an ac­tor.”

She’s been through the wringer in her per­sonal life. A mar­riage to Ste­fano Catelli ended in 2010 af­ter five years. Other re­la­tion­ships have sparked and then fiz­zled. But, still just 31, she has shown a com­mend­able de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­trol her own des­tiny. Rebel Park, an all-woman pro­duc­tion com­pany she helped es­tab­lish, is push­ing ahead with com­edy, TV se­ries and film. She is set to play Vita Sackville-West, writer, gar­den de­signer and ro­man­tic part­ner of Vir­ginia Woolf, in a film pro­duced by the Ir­ish com­pany Blin­der Films.

“Yes. She is a huge char­ac­ter. I don’t want to do her a dis­ser­vice and she’s never been prop­erly de­picted,” she says. “Eileen Atkins wrote the screen­play and she’s not posh ei­ther, let me tell you. From East Lon­don, not that you’d know it. She saw me in a play and thought I could do it. I was very touched be­cause she has played Woolf many times and it’s part of her life.”

The Bri­tish film in­dus­try needs afew more like Gemma Arter­ton. She has movie-star pres­ence and the wit to shape the medium to her needs. Not that she sees it that way. She still sees her­self as be­ing buf­feted by the winds.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m a coaster,” she laughs. “If it hadn’t worked I’d have found some­thing else to do. It’s so pre­car­i­ous. Things fall apart. It’s mad. It’s not a job for any­body who wants to plan.” ■ Their Finest is out now and is re­viewed on page 10-11

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