'When I was younger, I tried to rub my freckles off with lemon juice. Obviously, it didn’t work!’ laughs Rebecca Ferguson. Half-Swedish, half-British and with naturally glowing skin, the 31-year-old actress modestly fails to mention that she’s Tom Cruise’s new BFF, starring with him in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. A Scandinavian soap star turned Hollywood heroine, she’s landed three major movie roles in 2015 alone (one with Meryl Streep no less). We stole a moment in her on-set trailer to talk riding camels, fighting in heels and accidentally dyeing her eyebrows black...
Let’s cut to the chase: Mission: Impossible is quite a big deal.
‘I was on a camel called Barbie in Morocco when I got the call, and 17 hours later I was in London, meeting Tom Cruise for the first time. We chatted for two hours but after ten minutes and an espresso, I just forgot who I had opposite me. The day I got the part, I flew to London and was driven straight to the gym to train for six hours!’
OK, we need to know more about Tom.
‘The way he works and moves, the way he meets people, is a lesson in itself. I’m happy I got to study him for eight months. It was so intense, in a way I’d never worked before.’
He’s known for doing all his own stunts. Did you keep up?
‘On the first day of shooting, we were leaping off a rooftop in Vienna and I had vertigo. The director said I didn’t have to do it, but I thought: “Fuck it! I want to do it.” They didn’t tell me about the 120ft free fall that was coming up.’
Pretty impressive! Did that work in a dress?!
‘Hell, yeah! I’m in a gown, man. I’m running in heels. But both Tom and I said: “Shall we take the shoes off? Let’s fight without shoes,’ because we wanted my character to be quite raw. The more bruises I had, the more I felt I’d worked. I came home thinking: “Wow, that’s a semi-blue leg.”’
What do you think of today’s bare-faced looks?
‘I love the androgynous purity of the make-up. The drawn-on freckles were incredible. I thought I was going to look like Pippi Longstocking, but it was actually really subtle. It looked like me, but sun-kissed.’
So you’re not into heavy make-up?
‘When I come off the set, I take all my make-up off. I just love washing my face; I have a thing about it, splashing it with cold water so it wakes up. Then I use a lot of coconut oil from Whole Foods Market and Kiehl’s Refreshing Mist on my face. I love Elizabeth Arden lip balm as well, and use it everywhere, even on my eyelashes.’
Any beauty horror stories?
'A friend of mine dyed my eyebrows when I was younger, and she left the colour on a tad too long, so they were completely black. I couldn’t do anything about it. I didn’t want to bleach them so they stayed like that for ages.'
Speaking of hair dye, you went blonde for a bit...
‘On the morning of the read-through for The White Queen, I was standing in my pyjamas with no make-up on, and the producer said: “Your day starts now. We’re going to bleach your hair.” I got used to it, but I love my natural dark hair.’
What would you do if you were queen for a day?
‘I’ve always wanted to do the royal wave. I’d probably go around in my carriage with lots of friends in it, and have a massive picnic, just because I could.’
This year is looking pretty exciting. How do you chill out?
‘Well, I own a windmill, which I’m renovating, but it’s not livable-in right now. When I’m at home, I’ve got a hammer in my hand and the walls should be scared!’
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation lands in cinemas today!