Gemma Arterton, 37, was born in Gravesend and educated at Rada. Aged 21, she made her skilled stage debut at Shakespeare’s Globe and her movie debut in St Trinian’s. The next 12 months, she landed the coveted position of Strawberry Fields within the Bond movie Quantum of Solace. On TV, she has starred in Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Black Narcissus; stage highlights embrace Made in Dagenham, Nell Gwynn and Saint Joan. She now produces and performs the lead position in Funny Woman, the TV adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel Funny Girl, a couple of magnificence queen from Blackpool who strikes to swinging 60s London to interrupt into the comedy scene. Arterton lives in East Sussex along with her husband, the actor Rory Keenan, and their child son.
Adapting Nick Hornby’s Humorous Woman for TV become fairly a saga, didn’t it?
I learn the e book when it got here out in 2014, cherished it and tried to purchase the rights. Clearly they’d already been offered – hey, it’s Nick Hornby! However a couple of years later, the manufacturing firm got here to me and mentioned that Morwenna Banks had written a pilot episode, would I do it? I used to be engaged on a movie on the time and keep in mind studying the script out loud in my trailer, laughing away. It was serendipitous that it got here again to me. It simply felt proper – even when studying the novel, you wouldn’t essentially consider me enjoying it.
Characters I’ve performed earlier than tended to be a little bit extra poised. Robust and switched-on. Whereas in actual life, I’m fairly foolish. My husband watched Humorous Girl, noticed the idiotic issues she does and mentioned: “Yep, that’s mainly you.”
How come your comedian presents have been hidden?
I simply haven’t had the chance, however bodily theatre is the place I began out. We had a trainer with a Complicité background and all the things was about telling tales via your physique. However you then go to Rada and it’s all concerning the textual content and Shakespeare. That was by no means my forte. I’ve at all times approached roles from a physicality angle. That’s at all times been my “in”, greater than a personality’s backstory. Generally you will get too cerebral with performing however really, for those who begin shifting your physique, it triggers issues.
For Humorous Girl, I needed to do some clowning so I labored with this nice motion director referred to as Toby Sedgwick, who educated at Lecoq [the physical theatre school in Paris] and works so much with Danny Boyle. We’d do probably the most random, loopy workouts. Exaggerated actions, numerous stuff with purple noses. Folks falling over or crashing into issues at all times makes me chortle.
Did you base your character, Barbara, on anybody?
Morwenna herself was an enormous inspiration. She put a variety of her personal experiences into the scripts. Barbara Windsor’s in there, too. I additionally watched a variety of Lucille Ball as a result of she’s Barbara’s idol. I acquired the field set of I Love Lucy and was blown away.
How did you excellent your Blackpool accent?
I at all times use this wonderful database of accents that the BBC has. I managed to discover a recording of those sensible Blackpudlian ladies within the 60s, simply chatting about life, and I listened to that continuously.
Didn’t you get grief to your personal accent early in your profession?
Yeah, as a result of it was related to individuals from much less prosperous backgrounds. It’s completely different now at drama college however in my day, we have been instructed to lose the accent otherwise you’d solely play maids or no matter. It’s a disgrace as a result of I did have a robust working-class estuary accent. I really feel a bit unhappy that it’s gone.
Does it come out after a couple of drinks?
Sure! Or round my household. If I’m on the cellphone to my dad, my husband says my accent actually modifications.
Rupert Everett performs Barbara’s agent. Was he a hoot to work with?
He was, really. I’ve identified Rupert since my first ever job on St Trinian’s, so it was particular to get again collectively. He created havoc. Often it was Barbara who was the driving power of scenes however with Rupert, I used to be the one on the again foot, which was enjoyable.
Who’re your individual favorite humorous ladies?
I adored French and Saunders once I was rising up and Joanna Lumley in Completely Fabulous. I do know they’re not ladies however I additionally cherished Robin Williams and Jim Carrey – people who find themselves courageous sufficient to let go and be fairly off-the-wall. There have been a couple of occasions in Humorous Girl once I’d suppose: “What would Jim Carrey do?”
Barbara sings a Dusty Springfield tune in a single episode. Wasn’t there discuss of you enjoying her in a biopic?
Sure, it was referred to as So A lot Love and it was about her time in Memphis. However she’s not as well-known in America as she is over right here, so it was exhausting to get off the bottom. Maybe Humorous Girl was my Dusty second as a substitute!
I hear you’re keen on karaoke. What’s your tune of selection?
I at all times do Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler. It’s acquired a great deal of key modifications and is sort of cathartic. Once you sing karaoke, you’ll be able to’t attempt to be cool. You need to go for drama. Energy ballads are excellent.
Aren’t you an enormous Kate Bush fan as effectively?
Who isn’t? Anybody that doesn’t like Kate Bush isn’t somebody I may get on board with [laughs]. It’s been unreal to see her resurgence this previous 12 months. It means the youthful era have style, which is encouraging.
As a former Bond woman, who would you wish to see as the subsequent 007?
I’d like to see a youthful actor of color. I feel that’s most likely the best way it’ll go. That’s my two cents, anyway.
You have been a vocal campaigner for Time’s Up and #MeToo. Have issues improved?
I feel so. It’s very completely different on the market now. There’s actual solidarity between actresses as effectively. Earlier than, we wouldn’t usually meet each other however it was beautiful getting collectively, feeling that we’re all on this collectively, moderately than competing. Other than that, much more work about ladies or made by ladies is getting made. There are extra ladies in prime government roles at studios. Many of the work that I do now, I’m producing in some capability. We purpose for a 50:50 gender steadiness and folks with the ability to converse up in the event that they really feel uncomfortable. We’re beginning to see that now, so it’s paying off and I’m actually proud.
You’ve a three-month-old son. Do situations for working moms want to enhance too?
That’s tough. Working hours are what’s exhausting as a result of now we have to movie relying on the daylight or on night time shoots. How can we create an area the place it’s simpler?
What’s most stunned you about being a brand new dad or mum?
How one can perform fairly effectively on not a lot sleep.
What’s within the pipeline for you?
The Critic, [a film] based mostly on Anthony Quinn’s novel Curtain Call. The manufacturing design and cinematography is beautiful. Ian McKellen performs the theatre critic and he’s implausible in it. Then a TV drama referred to as Culprits, which is a cool heisty-type factor.
What would you be doing for those who weren’t an actor?
One thing with portray or horticulture. Nonetheless a inventive job however extra hands-on. I’ve moved out of London to East Sussex as a result of I like the outside and wish to get extra into gardening. Final 12 months, we grew all kinds of veg. Subsequent we’re planting fruit bushes. In order that’s my life now. It’s actually pleasurable.