Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton

Born Gemma Christina Arterton in the town of Gravesend in Kent, England, she was one of two daughters born to her working-class parents. Arterton's early years were marked by procedures to correct several birth defects, including a sixth finger on each hand and an ear that required surgical repair. Despite these setbacks, Arterton and her sister Hannah enjoyed happy childhoods marked by their parents' encouragement to explore their artistic side. Arterton quickly gravitated towards acting and began studying with theater companies.A theater award in 2004 led to a grant that gained her acceptance at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she specialized in both accents and stage combat. Three years later, she made major inroads towards becoming a professional actress, making her London stage debut in a production of Shakespeare's "Love's Labours Lost" in 2007, while also landing her first on-screen role in "Capturing Mary" (2007), a BBC Two drama which starred Dame Maggie Smith. She beat out Sienna Miller to win her first feature role that same year in "St. Trinian's," which cast her alongside an all-star cast that included Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Lena Headey and Russell Brand. Arterton played the school's head girl, who gets involved in a wild scheme to help save St. Trinian's from bankruptcy.Arterton's film career was running at full steam by the following year, with roles in no less than three feature films, including Ritchie's "Rocknrolla," and two major TV productions. "Lost in Austen" was a four-part miniseries for ITV which cast her as Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Austen's heroine in "Pride and Prejudice," while BBC One's production of "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" marked her first starring role as the doomed central figure in Thomas Hardy's period drama. Though Arterton was quickly gaining a name for herself in the British film and television industry, she was still an unknown quantity in the international market. That status immediately changed when she joined the cast of "Quantum of Solace." She won the audition thanks in part to the fact that she shared an agent with Daniel Craig, but her talent and rising status helped her land the role of Agent Fields over 1,500 other hopefuls. Fields' character helped to ground the new film in the long-running pantheon of Bond movies with her 1960s inspired hair and fashion, which paid tribute to Diana Rigg's appearance in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1967), among others. The storm of international press that flurried around Arterton as a result of the Bond picture helped bring her to the attention of other producers, and she was soon cast in Richard Curtis's "The Boat that Rocked" (2009), a comedy about the U.K.'s infamous pirate radio stations in the sixties. Arterton next appeared as a princess in need of saving by Jake Gyllenhaal's adventurer in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" (2010), a feature film based on the popular video game series of the same name. A supporting role in the big-budget remake of "Clash of the Titans" (2010) was followed by the title role in a more intimate film, Stephen Frears' romantic comedy "Tamara Drewe" (2010). Arterton co-starred with Saoirse Ronan in Neil Jordan's atmospheric horror film "Byzantium" (2012), followed by a role supporting Terence Stamp in the musical comedy "Unfinished Song" (2012). A return to big-budget fantasy films came with "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" (2013) in which she starred opposite Jeremy Renner. The female lead in the gambling drama "Runner Runner" starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake was followed by another leading role in director Marjane Satrapi's dark horror comedy "The Voices" (2014). After playing the Duchess of Malfi in the historical drama "The Mysterious Mr. Webster" (BBC 2014) and its sequel "The Duchess of Malfi" (BBC 2014), Arterton returned to the big screen in the title role of the romantic comedy-drama "Gemma Bovary" (2014).