Hannah Arterton’s hard work is starting to pay off as her acting career is gaining momentum. She’s the sister of Gemma Arterton (who played Strawberry Fields in the Bond film Quantum of Solace), and talks to essence about singing, acting, Netflix’s new series Safe and her forthcoming part in the film Peripheral.
All photos copyright Gareth Cattermole at Getty Images.
Makeup by Maja Rikner using Lancôme.
Shoot location Grosvenor House Suites by Jumeirah Living.
Q Hannah, your mother ran a cleaning firm and your father was a metal worker, so how did your sister Gemma and you get the performing bug?
A As well as being incredibly hard working, my mother is also very creative. Our house was full of music and books. My mum also trained in scenic art at the Miskin Theatre in Dartford and would take my sister and I along to rehearsals. That was definitely inspiring at a young age.
Q You grew up in Gravesend, Kent. I know the town well, I think you’ll agree it’s not the most glamorous place, but I do remember being amazed that it was the last resting place of Pocahontas – do you have fond memories?
A Yes, definitely. Gravesend has a fantastic live scene for local bands and I began gigging there at the age of 14. It also has lots of amateur dramatics’ societies which are great for young people.
Q You studied at the Miskin Theatre School in Dartford and then went on to RADA where Stephen Poliakoff spotted you. Was that your big break?
A It was definitely an exciting moment. Doing a play at the Almeida with Tracey Ullman was a dream first job and an incredible experience. I’m not sure I’d describe it as a ‘big break’ though. The industry is challenging and actors are constantly having to prove themselves and work hard.
Q Your first role was for Poliakoff in My City with Tracey Ullman. Did you learn a lot from them?
A Tracey is a constant inspiration. When we worked together she really took me under her wing. We’d talk about writing, family, music and she taught me how to knit! We’d sit under the dressing tables between shows, knit and sing along to Joni Mitchell. I remember her saying: “You’re funny, you should write”.
Q When young, you performed in a band and were offered a record deal. Were you more interested in singing than acting?
A Yes, at that time. Music will always be my first love. I didn’t really discover the joy of acting until I went to drama school.
Q Did your singing help in winning the part of Taylor next to Annabel Scholey and Katy Brand in 2014’s Walking on Sunshine?
A Almost certainly, yes! I’d been singing all of those songs for many years in the shower, but also with function bands. Getting to sing my own versions in a musical film was a dream.
Q Annabel Scholey (who played your sister in the film) told us she enjoyed the three months in Puglia, Italy. Presumably you did too?
A Yes, it was absolutely stunning. The scenery, the food, the people! It was an unforgettable experience.
Q How do you handle being well known?
A I’m quite a private person and can actually get quite shy around people I don’t know. I’m also a real homebody and prefer having friends over or going to their houses to going out.
Q Does your family keep you grounded?
A Yes, absolutely. I’m incredibly close to my sister and my mum. We talk about everything and support each other.
Q You are currently starring as a tough police detective alongside Dexter’s Michael C. Hall and Sherlock’s Amanda Abbington in the new Netﬂix series Safe. Is playing that role fun?
A Incredibly. And very rewarding. The writing is so good, it was an absolute joy to play. The cast were brilliant too, we laughed all day.
Profile: Hannah Arterton
RADA-trained actress Hannah Arterton is best known for her lead role in the much-loved romantic comedy film Walking On Sunshine in which she starred opposite Leona Lewis and Annabel Scholey.
Other film credits include Burn Burn Burn, We Are Tourists and short films Otherwise Engaged and At First Sight. Notable TV credits include roles in BBC’s Atlantis and Sky One’s The Five.
Hannah is currently starring opposite Amanda Abbington and Michael C. Hall in the eight part Netflix thriller Safe written by Shameless writer Danny Brocklehurst.
Q You’ll be seen later this year as a literary genius in the film Peripheral with Tom Conti and Rosie Day. Can you tell us a little about the film?
A It’s a sci-fi psychological thriller. I play a young writer called Bobbi Johnson. She’s attempting to write her second book after the tremendous success of her first. Her publisher sends her a huge computer to help with writer’s block and things start to get out of hand. It’s about art, technology and social control.
Q Your character in the film has little human connection. Did you really shut yourself away for some time to get into the role?
A Bobbi is very isolated and often the process of making a film can be very alienating. We shot in Watford for a month and a half and it felt right to immerse myself in the world of the character. Often it takes more energy to constantly flip in and out of the imagined and real world. On that project it felt more economical to stay in the imagined.
Q If you could choose a role, current or past, what would it be?
A A biopic about Debbie Harry would definitely be up there.
Harlan Coben’s Safe is available to stream on Netflix now.Website: www.netflix.comTwitter: @HannahArtertonInstagram: @hearterton