She's beautiful, talented and married to an Old Etonian banking heir. So why is TV's hottest rising star Britain's angriest (and most right-on) actress?
The actress Romola Garai describes herself as ‘a ticking grenade of gender anger’ — and it would be a brave person who dared to question her sincerity.
On screen recently in the ITV drama Churchill’s Secret, she played the politician’s young nurse. In real life, though, she would surely disdain anything so ancillary.
Publicising the Sunday-night drama, she dismissed most acting work she is offered as ‘really repulsive’, then denounced cinema as ‘violently sexist’.
Romola Garai, pictured, may be the angriest actress in showbusiness, says Alison Boshoff
With such arch-feminist views, Garai, 33, may be the angriest actress in showbusiness.
Like a younger, crosser Emma Thompson, she is, it seems, a little too busy protesting at injustice to enjoy life.
Yet, newly married to a banking-heir Old Etonian and blessed with a young daughter, there is plenty to enjoy.
She shot to fame at around the same time as Keira Knightley, who was in an adaptation of Doctor Zhivago when Romola was a luminous Gwendolen Harleth in an adaptation of the George Eliot classic Daniel Deronda.
But while Knightley has enjoyed the lucrative Pirates Of The Carribbean franchise and a stint as the face of Chanel perfume, Garai has followed a different path.
She has campaigned for supermarkets to ban ‘lad mags’, calling them ‘fanzines for misogyny’, and espoused other right-on causes — fighting for the release of dissident Russian pop band Pussy Riot, for instance.
Her only brush with Hollywood — in a sequel to the film Dirty Dancing — seems to have been a deeply unhappy experience.
Since then she has played a prostitute with hairy armpits and bad skin in BBC drama The Crimson Petal And The White, and a pregnant woman who masturbated on stage in The Village Bike, at the Royal Court in London.
Garai has impressed as Kate Parry Frye in The Great War: The People's Story, pictured, in 2014
Asked last week about her politics, she said: ‘Leftie, liberal, hand-wringing... all that. I’m drinking my own menstrual blood from my moon cup as I speak.’ Crikey!
How unfortunate, given all the above, that six years ago she did an underwear shoot for a glossy men’s mag, posing seductively in stockings and suspenders for the readers of Esquire.
It was a shining example of the kind of come-hither exploitation she now rails against.
To be fair, Romola acknowledged she was giving out mixed messages: ‘I spend my life trying to counter the assumption that because I’m an actress, I must be thick and sexually available.
'So I don’t want to look thick and sexually available — then again, I want to look totally hot in the photoshoot... you can see why men get confused.’ Quite.
So who is Romola and how did she get so angry?xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxRomola Sadie Garai was born in Hong Kong in 1982 to a wealthy expat family. Her father was a banker and he and his wife adopted two children, Ralph and Rosie, before Romola and her younger sister Roxanna came along.
They had a swimming pool, a live-in maid and an enviable lifestyle. But when Romola was seven her father lost his job and they returned to the UK, where he worked as a bank manager in Wiltshire. She has said: ‘It was a change . . . it was difficult.’
Her great-grandfather’s siblings died in the Holocaust.
Romola has revealed that conversations at home tended to be of the deep, global politics variety.
She said: ‘I was lucky. I was very well and expensively educated, so I’m passionate about current affairs, which is better than being passionate about stamp-collecting.’
The actress, pictured right, recently appeared as Millie Appleyard, nurse to Michael Gambon's Winston Churchill in ITV show Churchill's Secret, featuring Lindsay Duncan, left, as his wife Clementine
After leaving the independent school Stonar, near Bath, she went to the fee-paying City of London School for Girls for sixth form.
She says she didn’t meet boys until she was 19 and had the kind of parents who ‘wouldn’t even think to mention’ that she had turned into a stunning beauty — which she had.
Having joined the National Youth Music Theatre in her early teens, she was already acting professionally before she’d finished school.
Her first big role was as the daughter of Judi Dench’s character in a TV film, The Last Of The Blonde Bombshells.
She was so successful, she dropped out of her English Literature degree at Queen Mary University of London to star in a film adaptation of the Dodie Smith book I Capture The Castle.
She later completed her degree and achieved first-class honours. That indicates an earnest streak — and hers is a mile wide.
She told an interviewer: ‘Being successful and well-read can be initially very attractive to men. Give them two years and suddenly they don’t want it so much.’
She rather disdains her profession and did try her hand at writing a novel, without success.
Indeed, almost from the start, she has been embarrassed by the frothy nature of the acting game.
She said sarcastically: ‘It’s life-saving. On a Sunday night, people are reaching for the sleeping pills and then they see there’s a costume drama on.’
I Capture The Castle was followed by her first Hollywood film, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, in 2004. But although she was only a size 10, she was crushingly deemed too fat by executives.
She added: ‘The film-makers were obsessed with having someone skinny. I just thought, “Why didn’t they get Kate Bosworth [the petite star of Blue Crush] if that’s what they wanted?”
‘An actress like that wouldn’t worry about whether the political ideas were being sensitively or subtly dealt with.
Garai also appeared in popular 2007 film Atonement as the teenage version of narrator Briony, pictured
'They’d do the job, smile and look pretty on the cover of Teen Vogue. There I am, 135lb and trying to make art! I was so wrong for it.’
She recalled this year: ‘I don’t really think it was about me being thin. It was about controlling me. That is what the debate about weight and women in Hollywood is really about.
‘If you are lying about what the female form entails — there is no hair, no excess fat, no shape to the body, no texture — then you are a part of a machine that is really damaging to women.’
Dirty Dancing was a deeply unhappy experience which has perhaps defined her. Certainly, she is open about having turned down numerous projects since then that she felt portrayed women in ways she wasn’t happy with.
She starred in the 2007 film version of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and more recently was in BBC drama The Hour and Glorious 39, an overcooked conspiracy thriller.
In 2011, she had a part in The Crimson Petal And The White, which called for nudity — she played a prostitute called Sugar.
‘I didn’t want Sugar to look good,’ she has said. ‘I wanted her to be hairy, her lips to be cracked, and for her to have that dry-skin condition. I fight for those things.
‘You’re playing a powerful character, but she’s naked. Is it a feminist thing to do, to allow her to be vulnerable? I spent most of my time tying myself up in knots about it.’
Soon after this TV series she met Old Etonian actor and director Sam Hoare, whose mother is the granddaughter of the 1st Baron Rotherwick and whose father is a wealthy banker. They had a daughter in 2013 and married in 2014.
She ruffled the feathers of the Bafta crowd in 2013 when she told them: ‘After the recent birth of my child, I had the misfortune of having 23 stitches in my vagina.
'So I didn’t think I’d be laughing at anything for a long time. But tonight’s nominees have proved me wrong.’
Garai also appeared alongside actor Dominic West in the BBC period drama The Hour, pictured
She said afterwards: ‘It felt good to see everybody in the audience saying, “Did she just say . . . vagina?”’
Now she is a mother, the bossy manner she once dubbed her ‘head girl complex’ seems to have matured into an actual combative streak.
She happily admits that she is known for occasionally being hard to deal with on set.
She said: ‘When a male actor goes into a dialogue with a director, he’s treated as a tortured genius; when a women attempts that dialogue, she’s treated as a puppet.
'It’s like, “Just wear the f****** dress.” And if you kick up a fuss or have your own ideas, then you’re a diva.’
She said this week that she has turned down numerous jobs because she knows that she won’t be able to work with particular directors.
She also laments that in the acting industry it’s ‘acceptable to humiliate women’, that shows are sold based on how the female leads look, and that lots of television is ‘kind of porny’.
‘I want to do stuff that I don’t think is really repulsive, which is 90 per cent of the stuff you get sent. I don’t want to get my t**s out.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3479758/She-s-beautiful-talented-married-Old-Etonian-banking-heir-TV-s-hottest-rising-star-Britain-s-angriest-right-actress.html#ixzz42ExoIWHV
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