Born Anna Katherine Popplewell in London, England, she was the eldest of three children born to barrister Andrew Popplewell and his wife Deborah, an immunologist; younger brother Freddie and sister Lulu also acted professionally in "Peter Pan" (2003) and "Love Actually" (2003), respectively. She began pursuing an acting career while still very young, attending drama classes at Allsorts, a drama school which also served as an agency for child performers. Through the school, she began landing small roles in television productions; her first onscreen appearance came in a 1998 TV production of Daphne Du Marier's swashbuckling drama, "Frenchman's Creek." Her first movie role landed her in the cast of Patricia Rozema's acclaimed adaptation of Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park" (1999), which was quickly followed by another book adaptation - "The Little Vampire" (2000), based on the popular children's fantasy novels by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. Popplewell played the sister of the title character, an adolescent vampire (Rollo Weeks) who befriended a young human boy (Jonathan Lipnicki). More small roles in films and television soon followed; she was the younger version of Anna Friel's character in the 2001 feature "Me Without You," and appeared opposite her sister in the miniseries "Love in a Cold Climate" (2001), which also starred Rosamund Pike and Alan Bates. Popplewell later co-starred with "Harry Potter" comic relief Rupert Grint in "Thunderpants" (2002), appearing as the sister of a young man who uses his spectacular flatulence problem to aid the American space program. In 2003, Popplewell was cast as the youngest daughter of Fleming painter Vermeer (Colin Firth) in the drama "Girl with a Pearl Earring." She also auditioned for the role of Wendy in 2003's "Peter Pan," but lost it to Rachel Hurd-Wood. However, it was through her audition that her brother Freddie landed the role of Michael Darling in the film.That same year, Popplewell was approached by film producers about appearing as one of the four youthful leads in an adaptation of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," the first of several fantasy novels for younger readers by acclaimed English author C.S. Lewis. Popplewell was familiar with the books, having read them as a child, and re-read them while undergoing the 18-month audition for the role of Susan Pevensie, the eldest sister of four young English schoolchildren who discover a doorway to another world through the wardrobe at the height of World War II. Popplewell eventually beat out some 2,000 hopefuls for the role and spent some seven months filming with director Andrew Adamson in New Zealand and Prague, where she trained extensively in archery to perfect her character's skill with a bow and arrow. Her biggest challenge on set came during the scene in which the novel's heroic lion, Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), is slain upon a large stone table; the scene involved several mice perform a key role in the scene, and Popplewell, who was terrified of mice, became so rattled by their presence that she required a body double. Despite this nerve-jangling moment and the intense shooting schedule, she maintained a straight-A average after her return to the all-girls' North London Collegiate School. She even penned a journal of her on-set experiences which was later published in a book about the film's production following its theatrical release in 2005. Popplewell later attended Magdalen College in Oxford and appeared in several plays there, including a production of "Five Kinds of Silence," which earned her the Cuppers Prize in 2007. That same year, she returned to the world of Narnia for "Prince Caspian," the second book in the series, which brings the Pevensie children back to the mythical kingdom some 1,300 years after they departed it at the end of "Wardrobe." Susan's role was given more substance in this second film - which was already in pre-production when the first film wrapped in order to complete as much with the current cast before they grew too old for their parts - and she figured prominently in many of the film's extensive battle scenes. Popplewell was attached to the third film in the "Narnia" series, 2010's "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," but made no solid commitment to continuing as an actress. While attending North London Collegiate, she interned in several different fields, including medicine and law; basically keeping an open mind about her future while enjoying her status as a teen movie heroine.
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