Born in Torquay, England, Cole's life was changed by modeling, which boosted her confidence significantly. She was sharp throughout secondary school, and straight A's on entrance exams earned her a spot at King's College in Cambridge, where she eventually studied art history. Around this time, her modeling exposure drew the attention of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, who wanted to cast Cole in a project about "Alice in Wonderland" author Lewis Carroll. Instead, she made her film debut in "St. Trinian's," an attempted re-launch of a classic British comedy franchise from the 1950s and '60s. She followed that up with the aforementioned "Doctor Parnassus" as well as two other movies by high-profile directors: "Rage" (2009) by British art house maven Sally Potter; and the short "Passage" (2009) by Shekhar Kapur, in which Cole is a red-clad, tango-dancing object of desire. Both these films took unusual routes to find audiences, with "Rage" and "Passage" being released on mobile phone and online, respectively. As for "Doctor Parnassus," it marked Cole's first co-headlining role as Valentina, the prize in a long-standing contract between the Devil and her father, a theatre performer. Despite her relative inexperience, Cole acquitted herself very well in the role, and critics noticed: Empire's Olly Richards stated that she "defies every rule of the model-turned-actress rulebook by being not just quite-good-considering but a genuinely intriguing new screen presence." In interviews, Cole credited her performance to both her late co-star Heath Ledger -- who had died during filming -- and Gilliam. The next few years allowed Cole to flex her acting muscles. In a 2011 episode of the popular British science fiction series "Doctor Who" (BBC 2005), she played the mysterious Siren, capable of hypnotizing people and making them follow her. She also appeared in the Spanish Civil War drama "There Be Dragons" (2011) and the horror flick "The Moth Diaries" (2011), in which she starred as a Goth boarding school student who may be a vampire. With several fantasy movies already under her belt, Cole soon appeared in another. "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012) was a huge box office hit in which she played the key supporting role of Greta, a beautiful but ill-fated girl who has the youth exorcized from her face by Charlize Theron's evil Queen Ravenna. While her acting star was on the rise, Cole garnered additional publicity for her charitable efforts on behalf of climate change refugees, AIDS education, and endangered species. One of her earliest efforts revealed both a sense of innovation and cheekiness: She made a replica of her bust to auction online, the proceeds of which went to the charity Comic Relief. Cole also enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Environmental Justice Foundation, and appeared in a video for the charity, in which she visited a T-shirt-making plant in India that utilizes sustainable practices. In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Cole admitted that as a jet-setting model, calling on industries to reduce their carbon footprints may sound hypocritical, but pointed out the importance of having dialogues, and making people more aware of the choices they can make.
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