Congratulations on your role in The Secret Garden, tell us about the premise of the film? Tell us about your character Mary Lennox?
Thank you! The Secret Garden is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and follows a 10 year old girl named Mary Lennox, who travels from India to England to live with her uncle after the death of both her parents. It’s essentially a story of loss, grief and rejuvenation, with the growth of the garden a metaphor for the emotional growth of all the characters. Initially Mary is spoiled, stuck up, rude and mean, but it’s just because she is lonely and feels unloved. As the film progresses, you get to see how she changes into a better person, and learns the value of family and friends.
Where you familiar with The Secret Garden before you got the role?
I was pretty familiar with the novel before getting the role, since I had read the book when I was quite young and loved it so I knew the story well.
What was it like being cast alongside Colin Firth and Julie Walters?
It was honestly a real honour to get to work with Colin and Julie, since they’re both obviously such good actors and so well respected; but even more than that, they were both genuinely really kind and funny people, so I had such a good time just being around them on set.
There are some beautiful gardens in the film, do you have a favourite and do you enjoy nature/gardening in real life?
One garden that we went to film in was called Trebah – it’s this huge subtropical garden in Cornwall, with loads of incredible plants, and even a small beach at the bottom of it. That was probably my favourite location to film in, just because of the sheer size of it, and how beautiful the huge gunnera leaves and tree ferns were. I’m lucky enough to have a really beautiful garden at home, so nature is a big part of my life. As well as this, my mum is a florist, so I’ve always been around flowers and plants, even from when I was very little. Nature is so important, and I think it needs to be protected and preserved as much as possible.
Do you have a favourite memory from set?
I have quite a few fond memories from being on set, but one which stands out is on one of the days we were filming in Trebah. Because of the laws in England, I had to have a tutor on set, to complete my schoolwork. And in Trebah, as I mentioned before, there was a small beach at the bottom of the garden. For a couple of days they set up the tutoring tent on the beach, so we were doing our schoolwork while sitting on a beach in the blazing sun, with our feet in the water – which made maths a lot more fun!
This year, you also appeared in Summerland. Did you enjoy filming alongside Gemma Arterton? What was your stand out moment from filming?
Actually, I think my standout moment from filming was with Gemma, when we were shooting a scene on the beach where I was shouting at her! That was probably the most intense thing I had to film on Summerland, but it was actually pretty fun! And working with Gemma was really great – she was obviously so professional and good at what she did but was also really friendly and fun to be around.
What was it about Summerland that attracted you to the role?
I think what was so cool about the role of Edie in Summerland, and what made her so fun to play, is that she’s so direct and she doesn’t hold back. She always seems to say what’s on her mind and get straight to the truth, which I think is a pretty admirable trait in a person. As well as this, she’s quite the feminist – another commendable quality in my opinion!
You have already had some amazing roles in your career and been named as a Screen International Star of Tomorrow – what role would you like to do next?
Who knows?! I’ve done quite a few things which are period now, which is great, but maybe something more contemporary might be nice, to make a bit of a change. But again, I’m not exactly in the position to pick and choose yet, so I’ll just have to wait and see what comes up!
Which other actors and directors would you like to work with next?
Honestly, I don’t really know. For me, one of the great things about acting is that you never quite know what’s around the corner. Often, projects come up quite out of the blue, and you don’t get to even see the script in the first instance, let alone who’s attached! But even though I don’t have my heart set on working with anyone specific, there are loads of amazing actors and directors that I could get the chance to work with in the future, so who can say?
Interview by Lorenza Calamandrei
Photography by Joseph Sinclair
Styling by Holly White
Hair and Make Up by Erica Schlegel