Gemma Arterton: ‘In actual life, I’m fairly foolish’ | Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton as Barbara Parker in Funny Woman.

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 embody Made in Dagenham, Nell Gwynn and Saint Joan. She now produces and performs the lead position in Humorous Girl, the TV adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel Humorous Woman, a few 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 was fairly a saga, didn’t it?
I learn the e book when it got here out in 2014, liked it and tried to purchase the rights. Clearly they’d already been bought – hey, it’s Nick Hornby! However a couple of years later, the manufacturing firm got here to me and stated that Morwenna Banks had written a pilot episode, would I do it? I used to be engaged on a movie on the time and bear 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.

Why not?
Characters I’ve performed earlier than tended to be slightly 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 stated: “Yep, that’s principally you.”

Gemma Arterton as Barbara Parker in Funny Woman.
As Barbara Parker in Humorous Girl. {Photograph}: Ben Blackhall/©Sky Uk Restricted

How come your comedian items 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 pieces was about telling tales via your physique. However then you definitely 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 truly, if you happen to begin transferring your physique, it triggers issues.

For Humorous Girl, I wished to do some clowning so I labored with this nice motion director known as Toby Sedgwick, who educated at Lecoq [the physical theatre school in Paris] and works rather a lot with Danny Boyle. We’d do essentially the most random, loopy workouts. Exaggerated actions, numerous stuff with purple noses. Individuals falling over or crashing into issues at all times makes me chortle.

Did you base your character, Barbara, on anybody?
Morwenna herself was a giant inspiration. She put plenty of her personal experiences into the scripts. Barbara Windsor’s in there, too. I additionally watched plenty of Lucille Ball as a result of she’s Barbara’s idol. I obtained the field set of I Love Lucy and was blown away.

How did you good your Blackpool accent?
I at all times use this superb database of accents that the BBC has. I managed to discover a recording of those sensible Blackpudlian girls within the 60s, simply chatting about life, and I listened to that consistently.

Didn’t you get grief on your personal accent early in your profession?
Yeah, as a result of it was related to folks from much less prosperous backgrounds. It’s completely different now at drama college however in my day, we have been advised 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 powerful 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 adjustments.

Rupert Everett performs Barbara’s agent. Was he a hoot to work with?
He was, truly. I’ve recognized Rupert since my first ever job on St Trinian’s, so it was particular to get again collectively. He created havoc. Normally it was Barbara who was the driving drive of scenes however with Rupert, I used to be the one on the again foot, which was enjoyable.

Who’re your personal favorite humorous girls?
I adored French and Saunders once I was rising up and Joanna Lumley in Completely Fabulous. I do know they’re not girls however I additionally liked 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 instances in Humorous Girl once I’d assume: “What would Jim Carrey do?”

Barbara sings a Dusty Springfield track in a single episode. Wasn’t there speak of you enjoying her in a biopic?
Sure, it was known 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 onerous to get off the bottom. Maybe Humorous Girl was my Dusty second as an alternative!

I hear you’re keen on karaoke. What’s your track of alternative?
I at all times do Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler. It’s obtained a great deal of key adjustments and is sort of cathartic. Whenever you sing karaoke, you may’t attempt to be cool. It’s important to go for drama. Energy ballads are good.

Aren’t you a giant Kate Bush fan as nicely?
Who isn’t? Anybody that doesn’t like Kate Bush is just not somebody I might get on board with [laughs]. It’s been unreal to see her resurgence this previous 12 months. It means the youthful technology have style, which is encouraging.

Alongside Daniel Craig in James Bond: Quantum of Solace (2008).
Alongside Daniel Craig in James Bond: Quantum of Solace (2008). {Photograph}: Mgm/Allstar

As a former Bond lady, who would you wish to see as the following 007?
I’d like to see a youthful actor of color. I believe that’s most likely the way in which it is going to go. That’s my two cents, anyway.

You have been a vocal campaigner for Time’s Up and #MeToo. Have issues improved?
I believe so. It’s very completely different on the market now. There’s actual solidarity between actresses as nicely. Earlier than, we wouldn’t usually meet each other but it surely was beautiful getting collectively, feeling that we’re all on this collectively, quite than competing. Other than that, much more work about girls or made by girls is getting made. There are extra girls in high govt roles at studios. A lot of the work that I do now, I’m producing in some capability. We goal for a 50:50 gender stability and folks having 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 have got a three-month-old son. Do situations for working moms want to enhance too?
That’s difficult. Working hours are what’s onerous 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 mum or dad?
How one can operate fairly nicely on not a lot sleep.

What’s within the pipeline for you?
The Critic, [a film] based mostly on Anthony Quinn’s novel Curtain Name. The manufacturing design and cinematography is beautiful. Ian McKellen performs the theatre critic and he’s implausible in it. Then a TV drama known as Culprits, which is a cool heisty-type factor.

What would you be doing if you happen to 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 timber. In order that’s my life now. It’s actually satisfying.