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Gemma Arterton embracing stage challenge as she takes on Nell Gwynn role

Published 09/02/2016

Gemma Arterton is taking on the role of Nell Gwynn
Gemma Arterton is taking on the role of Nell Gwynn

Gemma Arterton said working on films could be "frustrating" and described her Bond girl days as "a distant memory", as she prepares to play one of Britain's most celebrated actresses on the big stage.

The star is appearing in West End play Nell Gwynn which charts the rise of an unlikely heroine from orange seller to celebrity.

Arterton will play the cheeky, charming and clever Nell - one of the first and most acclaimed women to appear on the London stage and who also won the heart of King Charles II in the 1600s.

Although she is an established film star with a number of movies due out in future, Arterton, 30, has a soft spot for theatre, admitting that she often finds film "quite frustrating".

She told the Press Association: "I guess with theatre, you are the captain of your performance. You're going out there every night and doing it, and it's always different. And the audience are different."

On the subject of film, she said: "And for an actor, I think, often I find it quite frustrating with film that you do your performance and then you give it to somebody else, and then they kind of cut it and decide what's good and what's not, and how they want to see it."

Asked about how the exhilarating feeling of live theatre compares with the life-long excitement of having been a Bond girl - she played Strawberry Fields in Quantum Of Solace in 2008 - Arterton said: "If I'm really honest with you, it feels kind of abstract all of that film stuff to me, because it's done.

"Often by the time that a film comes out it was like two years ago that you shot it so it's like a distant memory, whereas when you're doing a play, you're living it and it's happening, and then it's gone and that's it, then it's done, it can never come back.

"If people saw it, they saw it, and if they didn't then they will never see it again. Whereas with a film it's sort of just sort of always there and following you around for the whole of your life. It's a weird thing. Sometimes if I see myself in a magazine or something I just think 'well that's not me'."

She likes to think her current role as Nell Gwynn is fate as she shares a birthday with her and grew up on a street named after her.

"When I started researching her, that was the first thing I saw - that her birthday was the 2nd of February. She's 366 and I'm 30. Our birthdays were last week. It's believed that her birthday's on that day because someone did her birth chart," Arterton said.

Asked if she thought it was fate that she would one day play this character, she said: "I don't know. I mean, I like to see it that way because it gives me strength when I go out in front of 1,000 people every night playing her. But you know, I guess it's coincidence."

Arterton hopes to make good use of her time before going to the theatre every evening, and specifically wants to do more work with her production company.

She wants to get Brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan on board for a project in the near future, and joked: "Well we hope we can still have her now that she's this huge Oscar-nominated actress, but she's a good friend, and she's perfect for the role and she loves it. So hopefully we can get that going."

:: Nell Gwynn runs at the Apollo Theatre until the end of April.

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