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legant grandeur, elaborate gesticulating and a voice like velvety dark chocolate - Parade’s End lovely, Lady Bobby Pelham has arrived. Anna Skellern is a character actress through and through, happiest doing one of the fabulously posh impressions from her extensive repertoire. “‘Dahhling – what does one do here?’” Skellern breaths languidly in the manner of Lady Bobby, holding a very long (mimed) cigarette. Giggling, now in her more regular Aussie-tinged (but still notably deep) tone, the 27-year-old comes back down to earth. Anna, aMUSE discovers, is a something of a comedy geek (albeit a pretty chic one) and our chat swiftly turns to Blackadder, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie: “I just can’t go past Fry and Laurie, I love them. And Brass Eye too, I think those guys are brilliant! I actually met the guy who directed Brass Eye (that’s Michael Cummings) and I was so excited. I kind of withered away and tried not to blush, and got all embarrassed and tongue-tied. Argh!” Make no mistake, however - the girl means business. And a long side a ll the clow ning a nd melodra ma , she is a lso unquestionably striking - one of those annoying people who manage to be thin but also have curves, with naturally red lips, raven-coloured tresses and piercing dark eyes. Following TV roles such as Lexy in Lip Service and Kelly (hot babysitter) in Outnumbered, as well as theatre productions including Holding The Man (Trafalgar Studios, 2010) and films such as The Descent: Part 2, she’s further cemented her acting credentials as Lady Bobby Pelham (best friend to Rebecca Hall’s wayward Sylvia) in Tom Stoppard’s critically revered re-working of Ford Maddox Brow n’s te t r a log y Parade’s End. Furthermore, this month we’ll see her in the Coen brothers’ remake of the 1966 comedy flick Gambit in which she plays the secretary to Alan Rickman’s Murdoch-esque media baron alongside a similarly stellar cast including Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth. “Oh god, Cameron is so beautiful it’s depressing!” she sighs. “And you can just talk to her about normal girl stuff. You wouldn’t think that, because she’s this big star. Though I do think the thing about Cameron is her legs. I mean, wow. It’s hard not to look at her.” Indeed, caught between Cameron’s legs and Colin ‘Mr Darcy’ Firth (fresh from his Oscar for The King’s Speech at the time of filming) it proved one of Skellern’s most star-studded movie-making experiences yet. Surprising adventures, perhaps, for someone born into a family of serious academics; her mother is a former university lecturer and her father a professor of electronics. The latter’s job resulted in a great deal of travelling for the family as Anna and her two brothers (one’s currently completing a pHD at the London School of Economics and the other is a sound designer) were growing up

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- they moved out of Sydney when she was six, and country-hopped across the UK, Australia and the USA). However, following a stint at Sydney university (studying development economics), the call of stage and screen could no longer be ignored, and she upped sticks once more for the bright lights of London’s Guildhall, from which she graduated in 2007. Where did the drive to act appear, then, amidst all the academia ? Skeller n pauses, before replying, “I think I was just a really annoying child who was constantly performing to everyone. I don’t think it was something that suddenly dawned on me, I was just born with the ability to be the bane of my family’s life and to be constantly showing off – which I don’t do anymore because I do it in my job! It was just wanting to make people laugh when things get serious.” But with all the comedy turns, she can still do serious. Not that she’s about to pursue a political career anytime soon but she holds some decisive opinions on current affairs and is ardently pro gay marriage: “What’s happening in America is quite disturbing. But I don’t want to be one of those actors who harp on about politics like they know all about these things.” She is also a feminist, in so far as she feels that men and women should enjoy the same treatment: “I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t call themselves a feminist if they took that meaning.” Case in point, she relished the role of Sexy Lexy, her character in the BBC3 drama Lip Service (about a group of 20-something lesbians living in Glasgow) - a strong but feminine figure: “I found it incredibly liberating and inspiring playing a role of someone who, in their frame of reference, doesn’t worry about what men will think,” she says earnestly. “It shouldn’t be such a (cont. page 111)

‘I think I was just a really annoying child who was constantly performing to everyone’

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