When I ask Ellie Bamber for the names of some of the actresses she admired growing up, her answer unintentionally provokes a giggle. “Definitely Nicole Kidman,” she starts. “Moulin Rouge was one of those films that I watched as a kid and was like ‘Oh my god, that’s what I want to do.’ And I love Emma Stone, I think she’s a really amazing actress.” I pause, waiting for the moment of recognition, then laughing, point out the common theme of red hair, shared also by Ellie. All at once, she’s surprised and apologetic, almost as if it didn’t occur to her. “That’s so weird, sorry!” She nervously laughs. “When I was a kid, I was blonde. I’m naturally blonde. It’s weird how as a kid I was already gravitating towards that – that’s funny actually.”

Real or not, Ellie Bamber is a redhead rising through the ranks, her signature strawberry-blonde hair a striking point of difference from many of her peers. It’s this hair that would have played at least a small part in snagging her career-making role in Tom Ford’s haunting 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals, where she joined a flame-haired acting trifecta completed by Amy Adams and Isla Fisher. After a disturbing, but powerful performance as a daughter on a doomed family road trip, it sparked excited murmurs surrounding the Berkshire-born newcomer. But hair is just one thing. Talent is another.

And talent is something that Ellie has in buckets. She’s been lauded as somewhat of an industry chameleon, seamlessly embodying all manner of roles. Pre-Nocturnal Animals, there was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a comic, feminist, gore-filled riff on the Jane Austen classic which saw her train for two months in martial arts. Last year, she made her much-celebrated Donmar Theatre debut for a modern adaptation of the famous Henrik Ibsen play, The Lady from the Sea. In 2017, after the visuals for Shawn Mendes’ hit “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” were released, fans went into a frenzy investigating the identity of his music video love interest – played convincingly by Bamber, a free-spirit in the early raptures of love.

A stint as Tom Ford’s muse means that her style – which she describes as “a combination of classic, pretty things, and street style” – has also snagged her opportunities such as being appointed as a Chanel ambassador. Casual. She’s also the lead in upcoming project, Taipei (High Resolution), a love-in-the-age-of-social-media tale, about “a couple who takes loads of drugs together, film themselves and put it out on the internet.” Currently, she’s speaking to me over the phone from Brazil, where she’s shooting a harrowing abduction true story, The Seven Sorrows of Mary, which she calls a “tough” but also “really important piece of work.”
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Ellie Bamber attends the Washington Wizards vs New York Knicks game at The O2 Arena on January 17, 2019 in London, England.

See the photos by clicking on the thumbnails below.

Ellie Bamber has a confession to make: she judges books by their covers. “Sometimes – and I know people say this is awful – I do just go into a bookshop and think, ‘Oh, that cover looks nice’,” the actor laughs.

But that doesn’t mean the content of the book need be equally palatable. Her current read, My Year Of Rest And Relaxation, which she brings to breakfast with Stylist, has a quaint, period cover. But Ottessa Moshfegh’s second novel “is about this woman who gets loads of sleeping pills and decides to hibernate for a year because she thinks it might help her,” explains 21-year-old Bamber in a Bloomsbury cafe near her central London flat. “It’s intriguing. The author has a dark voice.”

Another less-than-light read is the reason we’re meeting. Bamber recently devoured Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in anticipation of her role as Cosette in a new dramatisation of the French historical novel. The six-part BBC drama dispenses with songs to stay closer to Hugo’s doorstop of a book. The period piece also draws parallels with contemporary global unrest.

It’s lavish, but it is gruelling. Fans of the novel, the blockbuster musical or this new adaptation on BBC One will know that Bamber’s turn as Cosette comes after several episodes of untold misery. She gets all the nice costumes but she doesn’t escape scot-free. “You see that Cosette is given away by her mother to this extremely abusive family and, as Victor Hugo says, she’s treated like the household drudge by the parents and children.


Marius & Cosette in Les Misérables

We meet the week before Christmas and Bamber is working right up to the break. This is what it’s like when you’re an actor of the moment. She’s just back from shooting a film, The Seven Sorrows Of Mary, in Rio. Currently, she’s juggling work on another British film, The Show (“a comedy shot through an LSD lens”, she laughs) and a second BBC drama. It doesn’t leave much time for rest and relaxation. 

“I was filming two different things all last week,” she says. “So I had a fairly chilled out weekend just hanging out and reading this book.”

Bamber has been in demand ever since she started acting at school, where she won drama scholarships. Brought up in Berkshire and with the support of her parents – her mum is her manager – she was on the West End stage with a part in a prestigious Sir Trevor Nunn play, Aspects Of Love, by the age of 13.

Television, theatre and film work followed but it was playing the daughter of Jake Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher’s characters in Nocturnal Animals that gave her a Hollywood break. Chanel appointed her as an ambassador in 2016. But while Bamber is major red carpet material, she’s much more than outward appearances.

She’s drawn to all sorts of stories, but she excels in dramas that blend her obvious glamour with substantial amounts of grit. It started with Nocturnal Animals. The work of a celebrated designer, Tom Ford’s film looked suitably stylish. But its substance dealt in the knottier, often violent aspects of the human condition. Bamber’s character, in particular, had a grim time of it.

Bamber (second right) on the front row at the Chanel Haute Couture a/w 2018 show in Paris

Her new work, discussed over scrambled eggs and Americanos, also sits on the grittier end of the spectrum. The Seven Sorrows Of Mary is a terrifying-sounding thriller about a tourist couple who are kidnapped and tortured by a gang in Rio de Janeiro. The other BBC drama in the works is The Trial of Christine Keeler, a take on the political sex scandal that rocked the British establishment in the Sixties, written and directed by women.

Bamber plays Christine Keeler’s friend and fellow showgirl Mandy Rice-Davies, who challenged the characterisation of herself as a fallen woman. It’s a meaty role that should seal 2019 as Bamber’s year. She shows Stylist a snap on her phone of herself in character, complete with Sixties’ bob and red lipstick.

But while the actor enjoyed the glitzier side to Rice-Davies, she was drawn to the substance of her story. She read her memoir (Bamber really does her homework) in which the former showgirl proves herself to be more than what the headlines of the time portrayed.

“Mandy was so fun and vivacious, she didn’t hold back,” says Bamber, a woman who clearly likes to look beyond appearances. “But the way these girls got labelled by men at the time… it was a lot.”

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2019 is set to be a golden year for TV and the show’s respective leads. From Jodie Comer’s return as Villanelle in Killing Eve season two, to Ellie Bamber’s new role as Cosette in Les Misérables, these are the fourteen faces set to dominate your screen next year. All you have to do is cancel all social plans in favour of a boxset binge.

#3 Ellie Bamber: Les Misérables

 

Ellie Bamber has been acting since she was young, but her new role as Cosette in BBC 1’s six-part adaptation of Les Misérables is set to make the 21-year-old actress a household name. You heard it here first.

The Signature Entertainment released the trailer for his latest project, Extracurricular Activities, a comedy feature directed by Jay Lowi.

This unique twist on a dark comedy follows the outrageous life of Reagan Collins, a model high school student with “a killer” after-school job that involves arranging “accidents”. When his classmates’ parents become too overbearing, self-obsessed, or just plain inconvenient, Reagan offers to kill them for a price. However, when seasoned police detective Cliff Dawkins starts putting the pieces together, it’s a battle of wits to see if Reagan can keep business booming while the rising body count brings Cliff ever-closer to the truth. A fantastically bold comedy starring Danielle Macdonald (Dumplin) and Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals).

Extracurricular Activities has already received its rating in the British Board of Film Classification and will have its debut soon in VOD. Stay tuned for more information.

See the trailer below;