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Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

t’s the ac­tor’s para­dox: play a char­ac­ter poorly and you’ll never work again, or play it so well you be­come syn­ony­mous with the role – and au­di­ences can’t imag­ine you do­ing any­thing else.

Claire Foy knows it well. After her multi-award­win­ning per­for­mance as young Queen El­iz­a­beth in Net­flix’s run­away hit se­ries The Crown took her from hardly known to glob­ally lauded, news dropped that she was swap­ping a ti­tle and tiaras for tat­toos and biker boots. Im­me­di­ately, the Bri­tish ac­tor was deemed “too prim” to play Lis­beth Sa­lan­der in the lat­est in­stal­ment of The Girl With The Dragon Tat­too film se­ries.

Foy her­self snorts with laugh­ter at the sug­ges­tion that she’s too proper. “I don’t think I’ve ever been de­scribed as prim in my en­tire life,” she tells Stel­lar over the phone from Barcelona, where she is pro­mot­ing the new movie (called The Girl In The Spi­der’s Web) at a film con­ven­tion. “Peo­ple think I’m the Queen of Eng­land and there’s not a lot I can do about that.” She pauses be­fore adding with ad­mit­tedly crisp, al­most regal re­straint: “I’m not, is the only thing I can as­sure peo­ple.”

It would have been easy for 34-year-old Foy to back up play­ing the Queen with a com­fort­able pe­riod drama or an au­di­ence-friendly block­buster. In­stead, she’s veered to­ward the gutsy and gritty by tak­ing on Sa­lan­der, a vi­o­lent and dam­aged vig­i­lante al­ready played con­vinc­ingly by Noomi Ra­pace and Rooney Mara in pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions. Even her three-year-old daugh­ter Ivy Rose hated the cropped hair­cut she had to adopt.

But “easy” is not in Foy’s lex­i­con.from a child­hood chal­lenged by ill­ness and her par­ents’ di­vorce, through to an adult­hood bruised by her hus­band’s brain tu­mour and their sub­se­quent sep­a­ra­tion, Foy has rarely known com­fort and qui­etude. In that sense, she’s per­fect to show­case Sa­lan­der’s un­rest.

“It’s im­por­tant to me to keep learn­ing and keep chal­leng­ing my­self, and tak­ing risks that push me in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and make me un­com­fort­able,” she says. Foy’s per­for­mance is al­ready be­ing com­pared to that of a “fem­i­nist Bat­man”, though she is quick to note she ad­mires the work of Ra­pace and Mara. She just wanted the char­ac­ter to live on, par­tic­u­larly since the new movie ad­dresses the death of Sa­lan­der’s par­ents.

“The thing about Lis­beth is, in or­der to un­der­stand her and ad­mire her, you have to look at why she is the way she is and what she went through in or­der to be so aloof, con­fi­dent and dif­fi­cult. She marches to the beat of her own drum and is the em­bod­i­ment of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.”

Foy could be speak­ing about her­self. While her up­bring­ing as the youngest of three chil­dren of a Xerox sales­man bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to Sa­lan­der’s, or cer­tainly the Queen’s, the ac­tor emits a still­ness and stee­li­ness that an­chored The Crown. Stephen Daldry, who di­rected her in four episodes, has re­vealed her com­po­sure was mag­netic. “[She] has a very pow­er­ful abil­ity to do very lit­tle and speak vol­umes,” he has said. “When in doubt, I just put the cam­era on Claire. Even in si­lence, she can say a mil­lion things.”

The role made Foy a house­hold name around the world, won her a slew of awards – in­clud­ing the Golden Globe and Prime­time Emmy for Best Ac­tress – and cat­a­pulted her onto Hol­ly­wood’s A-list, earn­ing her sou­venirs such as a let­ter of ad­mi­ra­tion from He­len Mir­ren, her­self an Os­car win­ner for play­ing the enig­matic royal.

THE ROYAL TREAT­MENT (below, from top) Claire Foy with co-star Matt Smith in Crown; Ac­tress award at the 2017 Golden Globes; in her role as Lis­beth Sa­lan­der in next month’s The Girl In The Spi­der’s Web.

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