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“I was put up for these ditzy girlfriend or best-friend roles. People would look at me and start talking about wanting a new Cameron Diaz. That just wasn’t me” fixed it. “I can change oil, swap tyres, the whole works,” she says. And she drove to LA. The happy ending didn’t happen right away. For three and a half years, she slept on the floor of a shared flat and worked four jobs as castings came and went. “I took on waitressing jobs so I could get food,” Alexander says. “I worked at Abercrombie & Fitch and got discounted clothes, and I worked at a gym so I could train. Apart from that, I went to as many castings as I could. I was completely focused, and even though I was hitting wall after wall, I wasn’t going to give up.” Now, looking back, she says she sees why she didn’t fit. “I was put up for these ditzy girlfriend or best-friend roles. People would look at me and start talking about wanting a new Cameron Diaz. That just wasn’t me.” Ask her to describe herself back then and she shakes her head. “A punk. I was so defensive. I liked working in bars and restaurants, but I felt uncomfortable in the agents’ offices and castings, and it showed.” In Abercrombie & Fitch she was spotted by fashion photographer Bruce Weber. “What he wanted was a girl who looked strong and could do martial arts,” Alexander says. “Bruce saw beauty in my strength, and it clicked something inside me. I realised I should push myself as an action actress, like Angelina Jolie. And then things just took off.” In 2011, Kenneth Branagh cast her as the warring

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Alexandre Vauthier gown £1,850

goddess Sif. “It was the biggest deal in the world to me, but I didn’t know how to handle myself,” she says. “I had a screaming fit at Ken when a scene went wrong. I got angry and upset, because I knew I was in the wrong. He was so gracious and kind to me, he absolutely got me. He also taught me so many lessons in expressing myself properly and just trusting.” She pauses. “Can you believe I had no clue who Branagh was? I once confessed to him I’d never been to the theatre. I thought he’d be horrified, but he just said, ‘Darling, you’re lucky. You’ve no idea how many tedious evenings you’ve saved yourself.’” But the real game changer for Alexander was falling in love. The year she filmed Thor, she met actor/producer Peter Facinelli (Twilight, Nurse Jackie) when he cast her in his movie Loosies. “I thought he was a great guy. I thought he was safe because he was married [to Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Jennie Garth] and I was dating someone else,” she says. “Plus, he was 10 years older than me, so I could be myself with him. I came away thinking he was a good man.” Eighteen months later they met again, at a sci-fi convention in Australia. “I was really ill,” she says. “I’d flown in from Africa, and I got sick as soon as I landed. Peter was amazing. He looked after me, took me to the zoo. He was incredibly kind.” Back in LA, they continued to see each other. He was going through a divorce, and her relationship had also ended. “We’d go out on dates, split a blue-cheese burger and go to a comedy show,” Alexander says. “I met his sisters. I wasn’t too sure what was going on. I thought he was too good to be true. He has three daughters, and loves his kids. I was always thinking, There has to be a catch. Most guys I’d dated before were either trouble or ones I could walk away from. We spent a year where I had one foot out of the relationship, and he just patiently, consistently, lovingly hung on in there.” Her olive-green eyes fill up. A few months ago she moved in with Facinelli, and it’s only now she admits her feelings out loud. “I’m totally in love with that man,” she says. “Everything in my life has gone from dark to light.” When, later on, she talks about what makes her happy, it centres around hanging out with his girls (Luca Bella, 17, Lola Ray, 12 and Fiona Eve, seven) cooking dinners, and cuddling up to watch TV. “The girls have become part of my life, and I get to see a man who really loves his children. I’d never known that before. I get to be part of that.” Through falling in love, Alexander has learned to love herself. She has also relaxed into her femininity. “The fact that I’m different is what makes me special,” she says. “Women are different; we shouldn’t try to look the same. I love Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley, who have their own style, their own body shape. My definition of beauty is strength, individuality and confidence. Beauty definitely comes from within, because it’s only recently I’ve started to feel beautiful. It’s taken me time to get here.” HMN Louise Gannon writes for Elle, Grazia and The Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine

Profile for Harrods online

Harrods Magazine October 2014  

This month, the fashion team travelled to mysterious Mongolia to shoot the bold patterns, textured fleeces and tapestry ponchos in the autum...

Harrods Magazine October 2014  

This month, the fashion team travelled to mysterious Mongolia to shoot the bold patterns, textured fleeces and tapestry ponchos in the autum...

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