S MAG 'I’ve done lots of different things so I’m not pigeonholed'
She’s back on our screens in Indian Summers but there’s little chance of Amber Rose Revah being recognised in public. That’s partly down to the fact she has cut her hair short and dyed it red but despite nine years in the business, the 29 year old can usually avoid being spotted.
“I love that,” smiles the actress. “I’ve done lots of different things so I’m not pigeonholed. Plus I get so bored and I probably change my look every month anyway, with a different hair colour and style.”
I’ve done lots of different things so I’m not pigeonholed
With her exotic good looks, the London-born actress’s credits range from Mary Magdalene in The Bible to Saddam Hussein’s daughter Hala in The House Of Saddam.
“I play so many different ethnicities and I look so different from job to job,” says Amber, who was also Russell Tovey’s pregnant girlfriend in What Remains, Helena Landless in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood and recently popped up in both Silent Witness and Foyle’s War.
“I feel I’m able to transform myself, but it’s very rare that I get to play a mixed race character and that’s what I love about Indian Summers. I’m often cast as Arabic or Iranian or Latin or Mediterranean – everything under the sun bar what I actually am.”
PH Amber (left) with Jemima West in Indian Summers
At the start of the new series Amber’s character Leena makes a surprise reappearance. Leena is an Anglo-Indian worker at a mission school who had an affair with her married British boss.
“I don’t want to give away too much,” Amber teases. “But it’s a big shock when she comes back because she’s very different to who she was before – and no more saris!” she exclaims.
The actress’s life has changed, too. She’s moved to a house in Harrow and is now engaged to her actor boyfriend Neet Mohan, 30. The couple met when they played brother and sister on a low-budget British film in 2011 called Everywhere And Nowhere.
“No sparks were flying then,” she recalls, “but we stayed friends and a couple of years later we got together. He’s wonderful.”
Mohan is working on the Paul Abbott show No Offence, while Amber is off to Hungary to star in Emerald City, a reimagining of The Wizard Of Oz.
In it she plays a confidante of one of the baddies. So marriage will have to wait for a while. “Our schedules are all over the place,” Amber sighs. “Obviously we need to be in the same country at the same time for it to happen.”
Her fiancé popped out to visit her in Penang, Malaysia, where Indian Summers is filmed. “He only came out for six days, which was a bit rubbish of him,” Amber says with mock exasperation. “But he was really busy and, touch wood, that’s a good thing when you’re an actor.”
New to the show this year is Art Malik, who actually played Amber and Neet’s on-screen father in Everywhere And Nowhere. “It was like this strange kind of family reunion,” she laughs.
Amber laughs a lot and she’s great company.
We meet in a London café and she’s soon telling me about how she lost her cool when she was cast opposite John Travolta in the thriller From Paris With Love. “I turned into a complete blubbering idiot,” she says.
“He’s such a lovely man, so polite and so welcoming, and when we got chatting for some reason I asked him if he danced and sang. He said, ‘I did a film called Grease, you might have heard of it...’ It’s one of my all-time favourite films and there I am going, ‘Er, yes I have heard of it.’”
Travolta shaved his head for the role. “And he had a dodgy moustache, too,” Amber laughs, adding: “I’d certainly shave my head for a role.” She would too. She’s been giving her all to the job since she studied drama at A level and lost a load of weight to play a barren character. “I didn’t make myself ill or anything but I purposely gave myself a gaunt look. I was quite scary looking.”
There’s nothing scary about her when we meet. She’s very friendly and excited about the return of Indian Summers, but adds: “The first series was well-received critically, but the viewing numbers did take a dip. But it had an audience that loved it and it’s nice to be in something that’s critically praised.”
Temperatures in Penang often soar into the mid-30s centigrade. “It’s boiling,” Amber says, wrapped up now for the British weather and sipping hot tea. “The first year I thought I was going to faint a few times, it was that hot.”
Art Malik actually did faint. “It was his first day on set and apparently someone had advised him not to drink too much water because it’s tricky to find a bathroom when you’re filming in remote locations, but that wasn’t very good advice in weather that’s 35-plus degrees.”
Even all wrapped up, it’s clear Amber’s in great shape, which has a lot to do with the fact she’s a qualified personal trainer and puts her friends through the fitness mill.
Like her character in Indian Summers, she’s mixed race. Her mum is Polish and her father (who wasn’t around when she was growing up, though they’ve had a bit of contact since) is Kenyan-Asian. She has four siblings: two sisters, one who is still in school and another who works at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, and two brothers who are ski instructors living in Switzerland and recently numbered Prince Harry among their clients.
Her Polish-Jewish grandfather and grandmother were forced out of Kraków during the war and eventually settled in the UK, where her grandfather built up a successful shipping business. “My gran was able to explore culture so when I was very young I was often taken to the theatre,” Amber says when asked what got her interested in acting.
“I remember going to see Carousel and Fiddler On The Roof and I had this overwhelming sense of emotion. I wasn’t crying out of sadness or happiness, I just start welling up.”
She joined a RADA youth group at 17 and got an agent when she was still at university. “They said they were going to throw me out at one point when I got a film role in Malta but I managed to make it work and got a 2:1.” She smiles. “There was a lot of getting my mates to forge my signature, but it was always my work – no plagiarism.”
Having played a pregnant lady in What Remains, Amber hopes to be a mum some day. “I’d love it but there’s plenty of time,” she says, adding that she did her research for the BBC drama.
“I would stop random people in the street and when I was sitting in Starbucks there was a woman next to me who was so heavily pregnant – she was enormous – and I ended up chatting to her for an hour and a half. It was such a great insight.”