Lucy Punch • Actress
Shooting Star 2006 - UK
by Annika Pham
Since her screen debut in Beeban Kidron’s TV version of Cinderella, the pretty blond and blue-eyed Lucy Punch has had great fun playing the part of the nasty ugly step-sister no less than three times, including in Tommy O’Haven’s cinderella inspired 2004 film Ella Enchanted. Her hilarious performance in the film convinced other directors to use her natural comic talent. Again in 2004, Lucy played an ambitious rising starlet in the international co-production Being Julia by Oscar winning director István Szabó and in 2005, UK director Annie Griffin cast her as a young Jewish stand-up comedian in her award-winning feature film debut FestivalAre You Ready For Love by first time UK director Helen Grace.
Cineuropa: How did your passion for acting develop and how did you get your first screen role?
Lucy Punch: I did lots of school plays, and during my summer holidays I took part in National Youth Theatre productions and just loved the whole experience. I made great friends, had so much fun, and found that acting was something I loved and was quite good at...
My first film role was as an ugly evil step sister in a TV film of Cinderella directed by Beeban Kidron and I remember going to the audition less nervous than usual, as for some reason I have an affinity with this part. To date, I have played Cinderella's ugly sister three times!
You’ve already played against some of today’s biggest stars: Helen Mirren and Clive Owen in Greenfingers, Jeremy Irons and Annette Bening in Being Julia. What have you learnt from those experiences?
Working with Jeremy Irons and Annette Bening was incredible. They are both really focused and disciplined actors. But it took a lot of hard work and collaboration with the director István Szabó to produce their effortless looking performances. Annette tended to stay in character or the same mood of the scene between takes, presumably so she had less of an emotional journey to go when the camera started rolling again. István was fantastic. Working with him afforded us the luxury to try different things out and experiment because we trusted him and his judgement completely.
In Annie Griffin’s celebrated feature debut Festival you play Nicky, a Jewish stand-up comedian. Another comic role…It is just a coincidence or are comedies what you naturally lean towards?
I've always liked watching and performing in comic films. Although I prefer comedy/drama where the performances are real and truthful and the comedy is accidental rather than broad and slapstick. I used to prefer playing comic parts as I liked the instant gratification of making someone laugh and knowing you'd got it right! But in the case of Festival, I was petrified of playing a stand up comedian. A lot of the film was improvised which was fantastically creative and exciting, but stand up is a very different skill. So, I chose to make my character, Nicky funny because of her vanity and brash vulgarity as opposed to her being a terribly clever or witty comedian.
Of course I've played more straight dramatic roles as well, which I love and look forward to exploring more.
What are you currently working on?
I'm about to do a pilot for a new TV show called Class for Warner Brothers. It's written and produced by the creators of Friends. I'm really excited about it.
How does it feel to be nominated as the UK’s Shooting Star 2006?
I feel thrilled, flattered, and very surprised!
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