Interview with Gemma Arterton
Gemma Arterton, your characters stand out not only for being beautiful and seductive, but also for having a strong and combative character. And this is confirmed by your role in The Girl With All The Gifts...
What stood out for me in the film, is that there is no romantic love story with any of the characters. Typically in cinema, a character like Helen would fall for one of her comrades, but here she doesn't. All of the characters have a mission, and that is just to survive. Naturally, I see my character as a nurturing, sensitive and humane woman, the fact that she has to use combat is just a result of her situation. But, yes of course, I am always attracted to strong characters.
What did you like the most of your role and how did you prepare for it?
I love Helen's sense of humanity. I believe she sees the bigger picture, much more than the other characters who are desperately trying to save themselves. She realises she needs to sacrifice herself in order for life to continue. She is a very loving and considerate woman, in a world full of horror and pain. I think this is what makes her incredibly gallant and strong. I was in the middle of shooting a completely different film in which I had done a lot of preparation and a challenging accent, so when I started this movie I was thrilled to just jump into it. There wasn't much preparation to do, which I think suited the shoot. We all just got stuck in and got on with it.
The cast is a mix of experienced actors, like Glenn Close and Paddy Considine, and newcomers, such as the young protagonist. How did the filming go?
The filming was really collaborative. I loved how the fact that our lead actor was a newcomer which meant that the rest of us were supporting her. There was a great energy on set, with everyone playing in between takes and joking with each other. It was a physically challenging shoot for everyone, so these moments of lightness were so important. Really, it was all thanks to Colm McCarthy that things went so well. He was a brilliant captain of the ship and kept us all positive and focused.
Legend has it that you were chosen among 1500 actresses for the role of Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. What memories do you have of that experience?
It feels like like a long time ago now, almost ten years! But my memories are all good ones. I remember feeling like part of a family. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson created a very welcoming film set, which was really appreciated at the time as I was very inexperienced. It felt great to be part of something so inherently British and iconic.
It seems like a paradox, but in the star system perhaps it is not: sometimes great beauty can turn into a trap. Is there a risk to be locked into more stereotyped roles?
I guess for those great, great beauties out there, they can perhaps find it frustrating that people cannot see past their aesthetic appearance. I can imagine that they therefore may search for roles that divert that judgement, in which they can let loose and show that they can play any character.
You are part of a large group of British actors who started on the stage and then moved to cinema and to Hollywood, without many problems.
One of the greatest remaining things about the UK is our theatre tradition. I think that most actors in the UK train primarily for the stage and end up falling into film, almost by accident. I think the benefit of this means that, as an actor, you have more scope and ability to play characters from any period and style of writing. The training is so important if you want a long and varied acting career.
We saw you in a variety of films, ranging from drama to romance to science fiction. Is there a genre you prefer?
I don't have any preferred genres. One of the great pleasures of my work is that it is always changing and I am always surprised by what I am offered. I never go out there with a set objective of what I want to do, and I suppose that is why my work so far has been so varied.Lorenzo Buccella