Coming in from cold

FES­TIVE CHOICE: Rest­less, Thurs­day, BBC1, 9pm.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Friday -

T’S been a busy year for Hay­ley Atwell. She’s filmed an episode of Char­lie Brooker’s re­turn­ing Black Mir­ror, a se­ries called Life of Crime about the po­lice force, and a biopic about Jimi Hen­drix in which she plays his “hell­rais­ing girl­friend”.

All are out next year, but we can see her sooner in pe­riod spy thriller Rest­less, an adap­ta­tion of the Wil­liam Boyd novel of the same name.

Atwell, known for her roles in Any Hu­man Heart and Cap­tain Amer­ica, plays Eva Delec­torskaya, a beau­ti­ful Rus­sian em­i­grant to Bri­tain who gets scouted for the Se­cret Ser­vice by spy chief Lu­cas Romer (played by Ru­fus Sewell) af­ter she dis­cov­ers her brother was killed by the Ger­man se­cret ser­vice.

“At the start of the story she’s plucked from a very vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tion of los­ing some­one close to her and is of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to have a dif­fer­ent kind of life. It’s new, ex­cit­ing and scary,” Atwell says.

Eva soon be­comes pro­fes­sion­ally and ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with Lu­cas but, when a spy mis­sion in the US goes hor­ri­bly wrong, she has to go un­der­ground and on the run.

Boyd, who adapted the book for screen him­self, had a hand in cast­ing Atwell as his Eva af­ter they met on the set of his other adap­ta­tion, the Bafta-win­ning Any Hu­man Heart.

“I had spent time with Wil­liam Boyd and his wife on set and per­haps out of that re­la­tion­ship he thought of me for Rest­less,” Atwell ex­plains. “It did feel that I was his first choice for Eva but of course, it had to go through the pro­duc­ers and di­rec­tor who ul­ti­mately made that de­ci­sion.

“Eva is a fighter but deeply emo­tional so I had to re­tain her emo­tional core as she trans­forms her­self from one iden­tity to an­other. I loved that her beauty is sec­ondary to her skill and abil­ity.”

Rest­less, a two-part drama, looks beau­ti­ful, but Atwell ad­mits the role was chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially as they filmed in the cold of a South African win­ter.

“When you are work­ing in very cold con­di­tions, trekking through wilder­ness or push­ing a car down a ravine, what you really want is warmth and com­fort,” she says. “So I was cold most of the time on set. There were hot water bot­tles on standby. Once I saw the film though, I had for­got­ten much of that and was swept away by the story and its beau­ti­ful vis­ual style.”

Thanks to the magic of tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion, South Africa stands in for the many dif­fer­ent coun­tries Eva finds her­self in, as Atwell ex­plains: “It is an ex­tra­or­di­nary place, dis­guised in the film as Paris, Bel­gium, Lon­don, New York, Ger­many and Al­bu­querque and Canada. It was like the twi­light zone.”

In her opin­ion, Rest­less is the per­fect drama for the Christ­mas pe­riod.

“It’s on at the most mag­i­cal time of year where hopefully most view­ers are well fed and warm and want­ing a story to get lost in. It’ll be a won­der­ful Christ­mas treat,” she said.

PIC­TURE: PA PHOTO/ENDOR PRO­DUC­TIONS/BBC.

GONE TO GROUND: Hay­ley Atwell as Eva Delec­torskaya, the spy on the run.

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