The gossip rumour-mill went into overdrive when Annabelle Wallis was photographed dancing down the street with Chris Martin, but there's far more to the English actress than her famous boyfriend. Here's what happened when we met and interviewed her back in 2014...
If there’s one phrase Annabelle Wallis must be used to seeing written before her name, it’s “English rose”. All pale-blue eyes and tumble of blonde hair, she has a CV peppered with period drama roles – from her breakout part as Jane Seymour in The Tudors to her turn as a feisty Grace in Peaky Blinders.
But behind the curls and whalebone corsets, all is not totally what it seems. Annabelle, 31, grew up not in a Kate Middleton-style country dwelling, but just outside Lisbon in Portugal. She speaks four languages fluently (her voice has a faint multilingual twang) and feels more at home in the glam-vamp mix of metallics and shaggy faux fur we've dressed her in than anything too “ladylike”. Following her turn opposite Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders, she starred in Sacha Baron Cohen's Grimsby, before taking a role as Maid Maggie in King Arthur flick Knights Of The Round Table. As the lady herself put it on her Twitter page #BestJobEver.
Annabelle doing Seventies glamour for InStyle
We hear you like today’s Seventies theme...
"I LOVE it. I’m actually very opulent in real life. If I get a chance to dress up, I really go for it. I went to read for a part in LA recently and the casting director emailed me saying, “Annabelle, please come in jeans and a T-shirt, as simple as possible. We know what you’re like!"'
So no sequins for auditions, then?
"No, I’ve learned you should look as neutral as possible. Years ago, I was up for a part in a Woody Allen movie with Anthony Hopkins. It was for a ‘trophy wife’, so I went along in a minidress and fur coat, which ironically made me look about 12. It didn’t work!"
What’s on your shopping list right now?
"Oh, it’s endless. There are these Gianvito Rossi pony-skin, leopard-print, cut-out booties, which are SO cool. Also, it’s expensive but the whole Saint Laurent collection is amazing. I normally mix high-glam stuff, like a great Miu Miu bag or a Prada shoe, with pieces from the high street."
On screen, we’re more used to seeing you in period costume...
"People are like, “Oh, she looks like such a little lady,” but really they have no idea."
Annabelle at the Louis Vuitton Series 3 launch party
You star opposite Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders. Are those eyes as mesmerising in real life?
"Sometimes, when we were doing a scene, I’d be like, “I can’t do this; I keep getting lost in the ocean of your eyes!” He’d be like, “Stop being ridiculous!” I call him “chisel cheeks” because he’s got the most incredible bone structure; it’s like a joke."
How was it growing up in Portugal?
"It was a real outdoor lifestyle – a lot of sports, paintballing and motocross-bike riding with my brother. We travelled a lot, and my mother always encouraged us to be very independent, which has really helped me now."
Richard Harris was your uncle, so acting runs in the family...
"The nice thing is his son – my cousin – lives out in LA and has worked in the industry for years, so when I’m over there he’ll have me round for roast dinners and give me advice on the people I’m meeting, even though it’s way too hot for roast potatoes."
How did you get into acting?
"I moved to drama school in London from Portugal when I decided I wanted to act. When I got cast in The Tudors at 23, I didn’t realise that it was this big network show. I just arrived and mucked in and did my best. I think that initial ignorance really helped."
You speak fluent English, Portuguese, French and Spanish. Which language do you think in?
"I think in English, but I write a lot in Portuguese. It’s a far more descriptive language. You can describe something in one word where, in English, you’d need a sentence and a half. I met with Sacha Baron Cohen in London recently and he was like, “I know a bit of Portuguese,’’ and just started chatting away in it. He’s a bit of a genius."
We bet you had fun doing Grimsby with him...
"It’s nice to do comedy to break up all the heavy, dramatic stuff. When we met up, he said, “I’m writing a new project; let’s talk about it when it’s finished.” I thought he was just being nice, but he stuck to his word."
Annabelle Dolce & Gabbana at the Met Gala
Catch up with Annabelle's Peaky Blinders co-star, Cillian Murphy, here