Today: April 15, 2024

Gemma Arterton

Actress Gemma Arterton talks to FilmJuice about her new film Tamara Drewe.

The film is based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, how useful was it having a visual reference for the character to work from?

I found it really useful to have the drawing there. With Tamara, in the book, and in the film, she doesn’t really have any friends or a moment on her own to reflect. In the comic you have these thought bubbles, so Stephen and I did actually make sure we put those in so you get an idea of the real Tamara otherwise it’s quite easy to disconnect from her. It’s nice to have such a detailed baseline to start off with, and then you can go off and elaborate certain bits and make them richer, and change bits. The ending is quite different from the book.

You make quite an entrance over the stile, was that Stephen’s or your choice of costume?

I actually went in there and said, “Please can you make me the shortest, most uncomfortable shorts ever. I was desperate to do a role where I wore those type of shorts. It’s in the book and it is a memorable scene in these hot pants, and for the joke, for Tamsin [Grieg]’s wonderful punchline to work they did have to be ridiculously provocative. We had a screen test where I wore various styles of shorts, and I walked along, and they went, “Shorter!” so they became quite short. Now we’ll be auctioning them for charity at the end of the year.

What about being cast to work with Stephen Frears?

Stephen hadn’t seen anything I’d done, and I was grateful for that because I wouldn’t have been in the film otherwise.

How do you feel about Tamara being something of an anti-role model for young females today, because she is always chasing beauty and success?

I wanted to play here because she’s not really the heroine actually. She’s really flawed, but that’s what makes her real, and it’s interesting in the film that these two young girls are obsessed with her and call her “plastic fantastic”, and yet she is probably the most lost. That’s what celebrity culture’s like. These people are made to come across as having the most fantastic lives, and they don’t really, and Tamara is struggling with using her feminine wiles to become successful and it doesn’t actually make her happy. I think that is a very current problem or dilemma: the plastic surgery and things like that. She’s a very modern woman and it was refreshing to play someone written by a woman who is very modern. It’s a very honest portrayal. I remember when we where filming it and Stephen would say, “I don’t know why she does that”. That’s because she’s a woman and sometimes we don’t know why we do things and we’re very complicated. It was good to play someone like that. Often roles are too thought through and too perfect, and this was imperfect and I liked that.

Does all the red carpet stuff tend to impose on the more serious part of your career?

Yes, but you have to do that sort of thing, it’s part of the job. I’d be quite happy not to do it.

What’s your reaction to the finale when Hardiment gest his comeuppance?

That’s an amazing moment in the film because it turns it into a Greek tragedy. It’s in this valley and it’s like a big western, and you see Tamsin running down the hill, and it’s really dramatic. He’s a baddy and it’s good that he gets killed by the cows. Then Tamsin gets to punch me in the face, which is the only moment we get to interact and connect. Then we worked together in a play.

You played Tess of the d’Urbervilles in the TV series, did you see any parallels between Tess and Tamara, both being Hardy characters?

Bathsheba is a very advanced character for that time, and Hardy was very clever and knew women, maybe even better than we know women. I suppose they are both out there on their own, doing things on their own, but they are very, very different, and downtrodden in a way. There’s an argument in Tess that she brings in on herself, and Tamara does sort of bring it on herself in ways, but she doesn’t really know why it happens and why she gets there. They are different characters but I suppose they are both advanced for when they are written.

Did you reference the Far From the Madding Crowd film?

There are so many moments in the graphic novel that are hints of Far From the Madding Crowd; the three male characters are kind of like, but they’re not really. They’re kind of archetypal men, lover figures. And I love Julie Christie, she’s one of my all-time favourites.

How does it feel for you when you go back to your home town, as Tamara did, after leading the glittery life of a film star?

I grew up in a town that’s not that far from London, which isn’t really the countryside, but I went home two weeks ago and went to a restaurant and people recognise you more when you’re from there and it’s kind of weird and they put you on a pedestal, while in London people are too preoccupied with their own lives to care, so it is weird going back. Unlike Tamara, I go and hide in the toilet, while Tamara goes and puts on some hotpants.

Tamara Drewe is out now.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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