Meet 2018s Breakout Stars InStyle's Annual BAFTA Rising Star Portfolio

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10 Feb 2018

These are the names you will be name-dropping this year…

The break out acting talents of 2018 hit the InStyle EE Rising Star Party so we caught up with them to talk new projects and have their portraits penned by illustrator, Charlie Herman all to celebrate the BAFTA EE Rising Star Award.

Josh O’Connor: “Let’s f**king nail them – its our generation’s job to build a new future!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Starring in a queer film landed Josh a nomination for the BAFTA EE Rising Star Award but he isn’t stopping the campaign for adequate representation on screen there…

You’ll know him from: After starring in ITV’s The Durrells as Lawrence, and a small yet scene stealing appearance in Florence Foster Jenkins, Josh O’Connor took on the role of Johnny in God’s Own Country. Johnny numbs his life with binge drinking and casual sex until a migrant worker arrives and an intense and racy relationship ignites.

However when it came to accepting the role, Josh wasn’t thinking about accolades, “I never approach a project wondering how it will further my career. When it came to God’s Own Country I honestly hadn’t read anything as good for a really long time. To see a queer film set in Keighley was amazing. Both are under represented in cinema generally and as an audience member I wanted to see that film!”

The impact of the film and the weight of responsibility doesn’t escape O’Connor’s attention, “ultimately our responsibility in any art form is to further the conversation in whatever it is. You can’t always do that and sometimes I don’t do my job good enough to do that. Hopefully we have shown that an LGBTQ film can be commercially successful and the audience is hungry for more.”

His gut wrenching portrayal of the troubled farmer led to his BAFTA EE Rising Star nomination, something he still can’t quite believe, “I never expected or planed to do anything commercially viable. I just did my job and people responded – so I am just very confused! It’s the best – I am going through a recovery process right now.”

Up next: Josh will be lending his vocal talents to the TV adaption of Les Miserables alongside Olivia Coleman, Domice West, David Oyelowo and Lily Collins playing Marius Pontmercy.

Josh wants to award a BAFTA to: “Daniel Kaluuya– I love him. He can have best actor and I can have the EE Rising Star award! As far as the rising star nominees, it’s unbelievable to me and Florence (Pugh)- who I have gone on this journey with – that we could ever win anything!”

The role he wished he played:Phantom Thread – I came out thinking that I would love to play a role like that. Then I think, “shut up Josh, you are getting over excited, you are not Daniel Day Lewis.’” But if his early work is anything to go by, anything is possible for this actor.

On Time’s Up: “I feel that I can speak my mind more freely now but the truth of the matter is I am a middle class, privileged, white male who maybe gets away with a lot more. I gain from societies failings by being in that social demographic so I think the best thing about Time’s Up is that those in the industry who aren’t supported, who aren’t privileged and don’t have a voice are given a platform to have one. Let’s f**king nail them – its our generation’s job to build a new future!” YES. KING.

You can vote for Josh to win the BAFTA EE Rising Star Award by clicking here.

Poppy Corby-Tuech: “There isn’t a riot for no reason – I can finally speak my mind without repercussions!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Poppy is everything you want an actress to be: stunning to the point of bewitching (her look is inspired by 1970s photographers such as Helmut Newton), articulate and on the cusp of her biggest role to date in Fantastic Beasts:The Crimes of Grindelwald, she is beyond self deprecating…

You’ll know her from: Poppy has quite the period drama pedigree, having starred in Harlots the 18th century drama centering around a brothel, playing, Marie-Louise D’Aubigne and appearing in Amazon’s mid century drama, The Collection about a family run fashion house.

Up next: Hollywood has summoned Poppy to play Vinda Rosier, Grindelwald’s (Johnny Depp) most trusted followers and even she still can’t believe it, “I found out by receiving a late night phone call from LA and I jumped ten feet in the air. It’s like delving into an unknown world – it’s really exciting but I have no idea what lies ahead, I am bracing myself. People are already dressing up as my character which is mad!”

It’s quite the daunting prospect given her love for Harry Potter, “I am the Harry Potter generation and I resisted it for a couple of years then I reluctantly fell in love with it and read the first book in the day.”  

The actor Poppy raves about: “Most of my scenes were with Johnny Depp as I play his wing woman. There is this continuous sense that he never stops having fun – he’s had a career that has spanned many decades, he’s been on so many film sets yet you never get the impression that he’s bored or playing a game or being a diva. He genuinely just f**king loves his job and it’s always a laugh when he’s on set. If I can be like that at his stage that would be quite wonderful.”

She would like to award a BAFTA to: “I feel that Grayson Perry deserves a BAFTA – he is interested and interesting. His documentaries are incredible, he just adapts to every situation and he’s such a sponge.”

On Time’s Up: Time’s Up and Poppy couldn’t feel more empowered by it, “I feel that I can finally stand up and give my opinion. If you had asked me that question six months ago I would have answered completely differently. It feels like the tides are turning, it’s so refreshing. I feel like it also comes from a sincere place, not one of cynicism  – there’s not a riot for no reason, there isn’t noise for noise’s sake. There is a shift in the industry and that comes from the power dynamics changing. You feel like you can speak as a young woman.”

Joe Cole: “No one comes off Instagram and feels content!”

Words: Susannah Ramsdale

He’s breaking free from Peaky Blinders one punch at a time…

You’ll know him from: His role as brother to Cillian Murphy’s Tommy in Peaky Blinders and Hang the DJ, the freaky season four episode of Black Mirror, all about dating apps and the power of algorithms. It turns out the episode had a big affect on him: “I recently deleted all social media off my phone, it’s sad that it’s come to that, but it’s like an addiction. No one comes off a session on Instagram feeling content and happy with their life, right?”

Up next: Look out for him in A Prayer Before Dawn, a true story about a heroin addict from Liverpool who got locked up in a Thai prison and went on to become a Muay Thai boxing champion. It’s role that nearly landed the 29-year-old Joe in hospital. “I nearly got knocked out by the South East Asian boxing champion,” says Joe. “I was sparring with him and he got me with an upper cut and nearly sent me to space. My makeup artist spent most of her time trying to cover bruises.”

The actor Joe raves about: “Cillian Murphy is someone I’ve massively tuned into, he’s got a great manner on set and his minimalist style of acting is impressive.”

The role he wishes he played:God’s Own Country was beautiful. I would have jumped at either of the two roles. It was a magnificent piece of filmmaking.”

Joe wants to give a BAFTA to: “Daniel Kaluuya should get Best Actor. He’s magnificent.”

On Time’s Up: “The #Me-Too campaign is great and I’m glad it’s all out there. It’s a new dawn. It’s important that it stays in the front of our minds. I’m glad I’ve come up in the game in this era because it’s sickening the stuff that’s gone on in the past.”

Nathaniel Martello-White: “Collateral is about powerful women and it couldn’t be better timed!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Brace! Prepare to meet the next Idris Elba…

You’ll know Nathaniel from: His multi talented persona has lead to him starring in Channel 4’s modern murder mystery Kiri after an impressive West End career that has seen his own plays such as, Torn tear up the Royal Court and Blackta, a satire about the life of British black thespians create major waves at the Young Vic.

Up next: Strap yourselves in for Nathaniel’s latest role as the Clyde to Carey Mulligan’s Bonny in the BBC and Netflix intense AF cop drama, Collateral. There’s a twist however, women rule the Met Police in this rather modern remingination the much loved police drama concept, “there are so many powerful women in this show and it couldn’t be better timed,” Nathaniel tells me. “Carey, Billie Piper and Nicola Walker are so awesome. It’s about depicting a world with all its complexities and rather than creating these false realities that only represent one demographic or agenda.” YES!

Despite the impressive acting pedigrees on set it wasn’t exactly plain sailing during filming, “half way through the shoot there was the London Bridge attacks. But because we had all the police cars and uniforms we had to halt shooting for a few days to not cause any panic – so people didn’t think we were an actual response unit.”

The actor he raves about: The love for his commander in Collateral has transferred into real life, “Carey was pregnant at the time and when she started shooting she had a bump over her bump and then by the time we finished she was more pregnant in real life than her character. She was completely calm about the whole thing. There was only one day when it was difficult, the sun was beating down with heat and we had to get in and out of the DNA crime scene suits about twenty five times – that was pretty grim. For someone so decorated and talented, she’s one of the most humble people I have met.”

The role he wished he played: “I loved Moonlight and Mahershala Ali’s character, Juan – he bought so much humanity to a role that is usually such a gangland cliché. Or, Get Out because it was so awesome and clever.

Nathaniel would most like to award a BAFTA to: “Paul Thomas Anderson (director of There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread) – I am a major fan. He’s also a chain smoking, die hard filmmaker so he would just be so chilled about the whole thing.”

What he wants to be remembered for: As a self confessed ‘slasher,’ Nathaiel hasn’t just got an impressive acting CV his directing and writing work is equally of note, but why take so much on? “When I left drama school eight years ago there wasn’t a boom in TV. On screen there was a lack of interesting roles for black actors to put it quite frankly so started writing to create some. I want actors to be seen as more than just figures who turn up and interoperate material. It doesn’t have to be about rigid power structures any more – it shouldn’t be that everything the director or the exec says is right and should always be about collaboration. Also I hope I show that people from my demographic who are expected to go a certain way are able to be part of this conversation.”

Collateral stars on 12th February on BBC Two and will appear on Netflix soon.

Edward Holcroft: “All men have a responsibility to speak up if they see something wrong!”

Words: Holly Rains

From Kingsman to Netflix, this actor is kicking ass…

You’ll know him from: You’ll probably recognize Edward from his breakout film role in Kingsman, and last year’s big budget sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but it’s his leading role as alienist Dr. Simon Jordan in 2017’s sleeper hit Alias Grace (more Margaret Atwood goodness) that is well worth a Netflix binge. Depicting a raw, sometimes brutal, portrait of power – it’s a timely adaptation that’s especially relevant in a post-Weinstein world.

Up next: He’s playing his cards close to his chest when it comes to up and coming projects, but suffice to say, if 2018 is anything like 2017, you can expect to see him all over your screens, both big and small.

Which Actor Edward raves about: “It was Michael Fassbender who inspired me to get into acting after watching him in Hunger, but really on every set, in each role I play, I’m learning. You just have to be receptive.”

The role he wished he played: “I would love to have a shot at Kenneth Branagh’s version of Poirot. I’d just do it for the moustache.”

Edward wants to give a BAFTA to: “The person who should win a BAFTA, and get the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as well, is Sam Rockwell for his role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He’s never won, he’s never been nominated before, yet he’s one of the best actors out there.”

On Time’s Up: “I think that every man has a responsibility to highlight or to speak up if they see something that’s clearly not right, but I would expect them to do that before the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Maybe I’m an optimist, but most men know what is harassment, so for me, nothing will change in light of what’s happened. I will say something if I see something wrong, as I would have done before. Sadly, I think there will always be some bad eggs. You’ve just got to get them cracked, and throw them in the bin.”

Tom Taylor “I first realized how big Doctor Foster when it featured on Gogglebox!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Post Doctor Foster this young actor is cracking Hollywood…

You’ll know him from: Tom catapulted to fame playing Doctor Foster’s troubled son but the real life Tom is peroxide blonde and, “I am still sixteen so I don’t really know what I am doing.”

Despite the show being recomissioned for a third season he isn’t phased by the fame that comes with it, “I don’t really get involved in it much, as whenever I am home I am just with my mates and its not until I come to events like the InStyle EE Rising Star party or filming that I realize I actually am an actor!”

Unlike many of his generation he doesn’t seem phased by social media either, “I just have one photo of my cat on Instagram – I don’t care about it! I just think when I am acting I am in the camera so I don’t fancy going home and taking photos of myself. I don’t want to be one those people just make loads of money out of it.”

Next Up: Tom turns up to our interview fresh from the set of The Kid Who Would be King, a blockbuster production about a band of kids who embark on a quest to thwart a medieval menace. A childhood well spent then? Tom plays the lead role of Lance, alongside Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson. But working with national treasures, Suranne Jones and Sir Patrick isn’t enough for Tom, “I want to be in the next series of Peaky Blinders – I bought the flat cap and everything – I love all that stuff!”
The actor Tom raves about: “I have learnt a lot from the crew because after I have filmed for eight hours I will say, ‘I am knackered and I want to go home,’ but they are there hour after me. You learn self discipline like, ‘shut up, stop moaning! But in terms of actor I have learnt a lot from angus Imrie who plays a young Merlin in The Kid Who Would Be King. He’s phenomenal the way he gets into it, you speak to him and it’s literally like talking to a wizard. It feels like I haven’t even met the actor yet, as even at the audition he was already Merlin!”

Tom wants to award a BAFTA to: “My Doctor Foster cast – I don’t really watch a lot of TV so I don’t really know how good anyone else is – but I really think they all deserve it.”

Beattie Edmonson: “Don’t let anyone tell you farts aren’t funny – they are hilarious!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Beattie may be the child of Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmonson, but her star turn in Disney’s Patrick sees her firmly stepping out on her own – one lol at a time…

You’ll know her from: This fierce female comedian made her name in BBC Three’s sitcom, Josh playing Kate after roles in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and The Wright Way.

Up next: With Homeward Bound and Beethoven appearing in Beattie’s top film choices, it’s no surprise the certified dog fan jumped at the chance to take the lead (in every respect) in Disney’s latest dog caper, Patrick. Taking the title role is a pug who Beattie’s Sarah ends up having to adopt after a family death.

Landing a role in a Disney film wasn’t the only draw however, “the main reason I wanted to do this job is because I wanted to work with dogs. But he was so professional, he didn’t care I was there which was such a hit to my ego. To get him to look like he liked me they had to put Pate on my face and I am vegetarian so it was a real trauma. He even liked a bit in my life so it was worth it!” Grim, much?

The actor Beattie raves about: With comedy running in her DNA, Beattie isn’t short on advice, “I invited them to my first ever comedy night at university and they were more nervous than I was in case I was really sh*t. My Dad is very liberal with the notes when it comes to my comedy shows so that can be awful but really helpful. When I was at primary school my dad told me ‘don’t let anyone tell you farts aren’t funny – because they are, they are hilarious!’ I want to take that piece of advice with me forever!” Hands down the best response I have ever had in an interview.

Beattie wished she played: “I saw the Shape of Water and I would love to have played Sally Hawkins’ character. From dogs, to sea monsters – it seems the next logical step!”

Charles Babalola: “Acting with Bryan Cranston every night is incredible!”

Words: Chloe Mac Donnell

Charles Babalola is breaking through, one fan boy moment at a time…

You’ll know him from: A string of diverse TV roles spanning Broadchurch, Black Mirror and Bancroft plus big screen hits including Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and The Legend of Tarzan.

Up next: you’ll currently find him starring on stage at The National in Lee Hall’s adaption of Network, a depiction of a dystopian media landscape whilst later this year he appears alongside Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix in the highly anticipated Mary Magdalene.

The actor Charles raves about: “I think Bryan Cranston’s role in Breaking Bad is one of the best TV performances of all time so to get to work with him now every night in Network is incredible. You really feel and pick up on the different audience’s energy and reactions every night. The further we are in the show’s run, the more comfortable I’m learning you get to feel in playing around with that.”

Charles wished he played: “There’s a German indie film called Victoria that I always tell people they need to watch. It’s about a group of friends on a night out in Berlin but it’s all filmed in one shot. So you really feel like you on the journey with them and then there’s this massive twist.”

Charles wants to award a BAFTA to: “Joaquin Phoenix is one of my favourite actors, he really embodies the craft of film and delves into characters. He just feels in so many different ways. Everyone loves him too so he would get a great reaction on stage when accepting it from me!”

On Times Up: “There are so many issues, from gender to race and I think it’s so important that we are finally hearing about them and getting a reaction. We need to continue being heard. It’s such an interesting time.”

Alexa Davies: “There has been a lot of jobs that I didn’t take because morally I can’t stand the pay gap.”

Words: Susannah Ramsdale

Mamma Mia here we go again…

You’ll know her from: Playing Aretha, Caz and Caitlin Moran’s older sister in their hilarious sit-com Raised By Wolves.

Up next: Look out for Alexa in Mamma Mia 2, a breakout role-playing a young Julie Walters alongside Lily James as a young Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irvine as a young Pierce Brosnan. “Playing Julie Walters was terrifying. She’s my hero – she’s the nation’s hero – so I really wanted to get it right. To get into the zone I watched every single interview that Julie has ever done, especially ones from the eighties because I’m playing her as a young woman.”

But what was it like to hang with acting legends, Meryl and Julie? “We have separate storylines. And, I’m so scared of giving everything away, but we did have a day on set together, all together, as our older and younger selves. The older cast were just the most welcoming people. It was so surreal being in a room with Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Julie Walters and it was just ridiculous but they were so lovely and they made it all such a happy experience. They are just the best. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Any plot spoilers, Alexa? “I can’t tell too much because it has a spoiler in it but Pierce does sing in the new film. When Pierce did his song, he was really proud of himself for doing it. And I’ve heard it and it’s beautiful. That night he was going out for dinner with his eighty-something mother and he said: ‘Right, I’ve got to go now, I’m taking my mum for dinner.’ And then ten minutes later he came back and said: ‘I’ve brought my mummy, can you play that song for her?’ And he brought his mum in to listen – it was so cute. He is just the sweetest man, he is so lovely and he just made the effort every morning when he sees you to come over and give you cuddle and a kiss on the head and say: ‘Hello, how are you?’

The actor Alexa raves about: “Celia Imrie has a role in Mamma Mia 2 and she was with us at the very start of our production time. It was a really important moment for us to start the whole thing. She was there with us – the young three girls – and calmed us down by talking to us all the time. I love her.”

The role she wishes she played: “There’s a recurring role that I really want to play and that’s Q in the James Bond films. I want to play the tech geek with cool gadgets – it’s never been played by a woman and I think it should. I’m just putting it out there…”

Alexa wants to award a BAFTA to: “Stanley Tucci for every role he has ever done. He deserves all of the BAFTAs ever.”

On Time’s up: “I’ve always been in female-driven shows. Raised by Wolves was my first regular role, Harlots again was a cast full of woman, a woman wrote the first play I ever did, the first TV show I ever did was directed by a woman and the first film I ever did was written and directed by a woman. Up until recently, I have quite ignorant because I have been so fortunate to be around all of these amazing, talented, brilliant women. I’m really glad that all of this is coming to light because it does mean that people are standing up and I think that is such an important thing.”

Alexa doesn’t stop there, mentioning that she has turned down jobs due to the gender pay gap, “there has been a lot of jobs that I had to leave or didn’t take because morally I can’t stand it. I’m now getting to a point in my career where I do have a bit of choice and there has been quite a few where I just had to walk away from. It’s not fair and I think people finally understand that and people are working towards getting that equality. And that is so important. I just hope we carry on as we are now with this revolution. Even if it means everything getting a bit crazy before it gets better. “

Nell Hudson: “It feels f**king amazing to be out of a corset!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Nell shines in Victoria but her greatest work is yet to come and there isn’t a corset in sight, much to her relief…

You’ll know Nell from: Nell has made quite the name for herself in period dramas, appearing in the first season of Outlander and she’s on the cusp of returning to Victoria for a third season. But why is the show so damn popular? Nell chips in, “people love seeing stories that they think they know, like Queen Victoria but with all the human secrets exposed – it’s kind of like finding out gossip about a famous person!”

Next up: Nell’s acting CV is catapulting into the twenty first century and Nell practically leapt out of her own skin when I asked her about it, “I am getting out of period costume – yay! I have just finished filming a new spy show; Informer for BBC1 and you can see no corset and me with pink hair. It feels f**king amazing to be out of a corset- it’s an object of oppression. I might refuse to just wear one for the next season of Victoria – it’s not necessary, no one knows what we are wearing under the costumes – I could just be naked under there!” Is corset burning the modern day bra burning?

The actor she raves about: It’s rare that a cast from a VERY successful TV show gather around each other’s houses to watch each episode. What’s more each Victoria actor hits the InStyle EE Rising Star Party with their eyes set on one mission, going out OUT with their fellow cast mates. Nell concurs, “we are so close!” But it’s an absent actor she credits with being quite the education, “on series one I learnt a hell of a lot from Eve Myles (Mrs. Jenkins) because she was fearless and so kind to everyone all set. She taught me so much about being a cool professional person.”

Nell wants to award a BAFTA to: “Leslie Manville – her career in general is just amazing, I just adore her!”

What she wants to be remembered for: Nell flashes her nails at me in answer to this question – they have after all, painted in the suffragette colours as her personal ode to the centenary of the female right to vote being passed, “There is a massive pressure for women and indeed men to look a certain way and I want to see normal looking people on screen. I think for me when I see someone who looks like a floored human – I find that beautiful and way more interesting. I would like to add to the diversity of the look. It’s become more homogenized.” Go follow Nell for a zero filter life, because this actress doesn’t understand people who Face Tune at all –“it’s not for me, I grew up on a farm!”

Jade Anouka: “I want to be Spider Man. I can climb up walls – I’ve got the skills!”

Words: Chloe Mac Donnell

This theatre queen is about to break out onto the TV and damn is she excited about it…

You’ll know her from: Known for treading the boards in multiple RSC productions, from Julius Caesar to starring in Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare trilogy at the Donmar Warehouse (which is hitting the BBC later this year after receiving rave reviews), Jade Anouka is a stage veteran.

Up next: 2018 is set to be big for Jade, with two ITV dramas commissioned for later this year. First up is three-part thriller, Trauma, with Adrian Lester; a ‘big step’ for Jade, who credits this as a breakout role on her quest to be seen as a legit screen actor as well as a respected theatre actor, and then the eagerly awaited Clean Break, which enters in to the murky world of insider trading and also stars BAFTA award winner Sheridan Smith.

The actor Jade raves about: “Adrian Lester, no question. He’s so cool, he puts in the work, comes prepared, plus, he’s such a laugh on set. And watching him work, and how he is with the whole cast and crew, it’s incredible.”

Role she wishes she played: “I wish I was in Black Panther. Come on! Also, I’m obsessed with Spider Man… I want to be Spider Man. I can climb up walls, I’ve got the skills.”

Jade wants to award a BAFTA to: “I saw a short film at the BFI London Film Festival called Wren Boys. And when I watched it my heart was in my mouth, I’ve never gone though so many emotions in such a short space of time. I’d love them to get a BAFTA.”

On Time’s Up: “If I see injustice, I always try to speak up, or like to think I would. It’s my ethos, whatever the situation. I don’t like people getting away with things.”

Shazad Latif: “Watching Star Trek was actually the first time I didn’t cringe watching myself!”

Words: Holly Rains

You’ll know him from: He’s had roles in Penny Dreadful, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and, most recently, as a series regular on Star Trek: Discovery (he plays Lieutenant Tyler). “Watching Star Trek was actually the first time I didn’t cringe watching myself acting and I thought, ‘OK, that’s actually quite good!’”

Up next: A digital auditionee native (yes, his last three roles have been won via Skype #agile), his new film Profile, directed by by Timur Bekmambetov is out later this year. In what Latif describes as a stark departure from his usual roles, Profile will see the 29-year-old play a Jihadi recruiter on a mission to lure young girls to come over from Europe. The film, which is based on a real life story, and has a verbatim script, is sure to be a talking point of 2018.

The actor Shazad raves about: “I have watched so many classics and watched so many greats on screen, that at first it becomes a case of imitation until you know who you are as an actor. Bill Nighy was a big inspiration for me, and working with him alongside Judi Dench and Maggie Smith – I learned a lot from them. It’s never once piece of advice though, it’s a collection of everything and letting yourself be relaxed and receptive to that knowledge.”

The role he wishes he played: “Its never, ever one role, I just want to work with great directors and tell interesting stories. Things are opening up now and I’m playing non-specific, as in not-Asian specific, roles but it’s taken a while to get there. People like Riz Ahmed, Dev Patel and every Asian actor before me have been opening doors, you just need the writers and producers to be onboard.”

Shazad wants to award a BAFTA to: “Oulaya Amamra from Divines. All of the women in that film were amazing, it was the best film I saw last year.”

On Time’s Up: “Things have definitely changed in the industry over the last year, the whole world has changed and still is… people are more conscious and mindful of what they do and that can only be a good thing. And the more we can reflect back and assess what we’ve done and learn from it, the better.”

Leonie Elliot: “Call The Midwife is made with so much love!”

Words: Josh Newis-Smith

Call The Midwife! There’s a new star on call…

You’ll know her from: Leonie first came to attention playing Fiona in Black Mirror episode, Hated The Nation which followed a police detective investigating a series of murders linked to social media. But it’s her star turn in BBC One’s Call The Midwife that is really setting Leonie’s career on fire.

“It is intimidating because the actresses are phenomenal,” Leonie tells me. “But it’s made with love so you just slot in perfectly. I definitely had a pinch myself moment of, ‘oh my goodness that’s Judy Parfitt and Linda Bassett!” Playing the show’s first West-Indian nurse the actress certainly had her work cut out for her with an entire new accent to master, so to stay in the zone, “I did stay in character between takes and I improvise a lot with Jennifer Kirby before we start.”

Not a Call The Midwife fan? Well you should be, Leonie protests, “the show pulls out so many issues that are relevant today and that’s why it’s so powerful!”

Next up: “I would love to go into film – I am about to start filming the next series of Call The Midwife – but I just want to play a badass now. I want to show that I am versatile!” You have been warned: watch this space people!

The actor Leonie raves about: “All of the Call The Midwife cast bring magnificence to the screen so I have learnt so much from watching all of them. I think the most important thing is just to listen, as they are such generous actresses so you can’t help but learn. Judy Parfitt told me to really pay attention to language which is important especially for character who is Jamaican.”

The role Leonie wished she played: “Naomie Harris’s character is incredible in Moonlight. As an actress she is incredible – Naomie has done so many amazing projects. Her mum actually helped me with my accent for Call The Midwife as she’s a dialect coach so there is a connection!”

Leonie wants to be remembered for: Given her character’s tricky race story lines, set in the backdrop of 1960s East End London, Leonie insists she is, “very proud to be shining a light on the race issue because it’s very close to my heart. I feel these women need a light shone on them because they are unsung heroes!”

Leo Suter: “The Victoria cast watch every episode together!”

Words: Susannah Ramsdale

This dashing actor set hearts aflutter in Victoria but he’s not stopping there…

You’ll know him from: The second series of ITV’s Victoria in which his character, Edward Drummond, has a gay relationship with Lord Alfred Paget (played by Jordan Waller). “It was an interesting avenue into the prejudices that we still have today, and to portray them in the past, when it was perhaps a more extreme prejudice. To portray that sensitively, delicately and faithfully was really important to me.”

But what is it like being on such a huge show? “As cast, we watched very episode together as it aired. So obviously you film this stuff ages ago and you don’t film it in chronological sequence so you can forget how an episode comes together. So we shared that experience that a viewer has of watching each episode bit by bit. And we’d go around each other’s houses for every episode and we would cook. I tried to make burritos but I had put in too much spice and I blew everyone head off. But it was fun we all enjoyed each episode. It was lovely being on the show and it was lovely to watch it with the cast. On the episode that my dad was killed, the day after on the tube in London, someone put his arm around me and said: ‘I’m so sorry that your dad passed away.’ It was very, very sweet.”

Up next: A short film called Devil’s Harmony, about an acappella group that can put people to sleep with a particular chord. And Leo can sing! “I’m actually a drummer but I can also sing,” he says.

The actor he raves about: “I can’t help but be in awe by the work Jenna Coleman puts in. She carries the show and she is what the show is about and does this amazing performance which we can all see play off.”

The role Leo wishes he played: “I would love to be in a Black Mirror episode because they made my brain work and I enjoy it when that happens. “

Leo wants to award a BAFTA to: “Jordan Waller for being a sweetheart.”

On Time’s Up: “As a rising star category we’re not just observers. It was young people in their early twenties who had people much older than them using their power against them. So my age group is the time where all that kind of sh”t happens. So, I’m very grateful that this movement is happening, disgusted that the behavior happened in the first place and really positive that we are currently live in era where this sort of thing won’t be acceptable.”

Tallulah Rose Haddon: “I really want to play a cow boy!”

Words: Chloe Mac Donnell

From alien abductions to stunt training, this rising star is out of this world…

You’ll know her from: Tallulah made her big screen debut in the Indie flick Spaceship, where she played a blue haired teenager who fakes her own alien abduction. Plus last year she starred in BBC’s gripping drama, Taboo.  

Up next: She’s bagged the lead in the forthcoming Netflix series Kiss Me First. Fusing computer-generated virtual world sequences alongside a live action narration, the series is said to explore the disparity between appearance and reality in the social media age.

The actor she raves about: “My co-star Simona Brown in Kiss Me First. She is really inspiring. It was quite intense to work on a Netflix series. I had a lot of stunts to do in the show, which freaked me out at first but I eventually got good at them. In one scene I had to dive into the sea and stab someone. I don’t like deep water so that was hard.”

The role Tallulah wishes she played: “I loved Westworld. I think I would have loved to have played a cowboy. That would have been fun.”

She wants to award a BAFTA to: “Juliette Lewis. Although, I think she already has lots of awards. Maybe I could just give her a kiss instead!”

On Time’s Up: “It has directly affected my work. Some things I’ve been working on have been re-altered. It’s gone through the chain of command, and in terms of how I’ve been presented some things been changed in a positive way. I think it’s our responsibility to speak up.”

Simona Brown: “Growing up I didn’t see many women I could really identify with on-screen”

Words: Chloe Mac Donnell

Netflix stardom calls for this British actress…

You’ll know her from: Simona appeared in the harrowing TV drama Murdered By My Boyfriend plus the BBC spy series The Night Manager.

Up next: You’ll find her acting alongside fellow rising star Tallulah Rose Haddon in Kiss Me First, which challenged her swimming fears. “I had to dive into zero degree water in Croatia whilst filming in April. So going into water and then into shock was a lot to deal with.” Simona isn’t stopping there, she will star alongside BAFTA EE Rising Star nominee, Florence Pugh in BBC drama, The Little Drummer Girl. Set against rising tensions in the 1970s Middle East a tale of espionage unfolds in what is set to be THE TV show of the year. 

The actor Simona raves about: “Ben Chaplin. He plays my psychiatrist in Kiss Me First. He came onto set and just had this really lively and playful energy. Sometimes you can get inside your actor head and think you’re not good enough, whereas he arrived on the first day and had lots of fun. So I took that positivity from him.”

The role she wishes she played: “I would have loved a role in The Handmaiden. Maybe I could have played a creepy Auntie, as I loved the creepy uncle. He had a really interesting character so that would have been fun to explore.”

Simona wants to award a BAFTA to: “Daniel Kaluuya. I love the way he is unapologetically himself. He seems grounded in this industry and props to him for being able to cry so well on cue. He has a real skill.”

On Time’s Up: “It’s a really exciting time. I don’t feel actors are just actors, like we’re not just props on a stage or in a film. I feel we come with our own voice. I have my own voice and I’m learning to use mine. Growing up I didn’t see many women I could really identify with on-screen so I hope girls watching me feel inspired or encouraged in some way.”

Margaret Clunie: “Can I be in the next series of The Handmaid’s Tale?!”

Words: Susannah Ramsdale

From Victoria to acting opposite Benedict Cumberatch, 2018 is Margaret’s for the taking…

You’ll know her from: ITV’s acclaimed period drama Victoria, where she plays the Duchess of Sutherland alongside Jenna Coleman. The will-they-won’t-they love story between Margaret’s character and Prince Albert’s older brother Ernest had the nation gripped.

Up next: A TV show called Patrick Melrose, starring the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch, which will air later this year. “I had a couple of scenes with Benedict and he was so lovely.”

The actor Margaret raves about: “Doing a show like Victoria is amazing because there’s a whole ensemble of amazing actors. Anna Wilson Jones, who plays the other lady-in-waiting, is my total girl crush. She’s been in so many amazing films and shows and she just knows the score! Working with a broad spectrum of people is always exciting because everyone has different experiences they bring to the table.”

The role she wishes she played: “I loved Get Out, and Allison Williams played an amazing part in that. She was evil, f*cking evil. Playing the baddies is always really fun.”

Margaret wants to award a BAFTA to: “I loved The Handmaid’s Tale. I’d give a BAFTA to the ensemble for that. Can I be in the next series?!”

On Times Up: “It’s horrific what Weinstein is alleged to have done but great that people are talking about it in this way and moving forward with it. Things are starting to be done to stop predators. I’m just so thankful all these amazing women said: ‘Me too.’ It’s been a revolutionary few months that needed to happen. If anything happened to me in the industry, I think I’d feel more confident in coming forward and talking about it, thanks to all the women who have come forward.”

Phil Dunster: “We all have a huge responsibility to be more introspective!”

Words: Susannah Ramsdale

This actor took a trip on the Murder On The Orient Express and is making the most of his one way ticket to Hollywood…  

You’ll know him from: 2017’s mega movie Murder on the Orient Express. The best part of being involved in such a huge film? Meeting the brilliant Olivia Colman. “She’s just the nicest. I’ve idolized her for years and meeting her made a huge impression.”

Up next: Save Me, a gripping search and rescue series, coming to Sky Atlantic at the end of February. “Suranne Jones plays my step mum,” says Phil. “Suranne is everywhere and yet she turns up on set and is so interested in everyone else. She remembers conversations you’ve had, is so lovely and professional. She’s also so inspiring; she commands respect and is on the money every day. She’s fierce. She’s fire!”

The actor Phil raves about: “Nina Sosanya (you’ll recognize her from Teachers and W1A), who I starred with in Strike Back, brought so much tension and fire to her performance. It was a huge lesson that every line counts.”

The role he wishes he played: “Josh O’Connor was transformative and beautiful in God’s Own Country. He had to lose a lot of weight for it and I think any role that’s a huge distortion on who you are is impressive. I loved it. I saw it twice.”

Phil wants to award a BAFTA to: “Daniel Kaluuya. I want to be him.”

On Time’s Up: “We all have a huge responsibility to be more introspective. Particularly as a male it’s important to look back and question your behavior. A large part of the culture, which came before, was born out of arrogance and entitlement. It’s a cultural revolution.”

All interviews took place at the InStyle EE Rising Star Party.


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