Ellie Bamber is dressed in a pink Emilia Wickstead dress with splashes of bright-blue paint in her blonde hair, newly dyed for GLAMOUR’s art-tastic shoot. “This is totally my Mad Hatter’s tea party moment,” laughs Ellie. “I love experimenting with make-up colours, using them in unique ways and doing wild things, because on a day-to-day basis, I sometimes feel mad -but in a good way.”
Ellie’s energy, as well as her talent for breaking your emotion with a single glance, is quickly making her one of Britain’s most in-demand actresses. Having been plucked from her school aged 11 to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Aspects Of Love, she landed her first TV role in the ITV drama A Mother’s Son in 2012 and went on to tread the West End boards in The Lady From The Sea. But she is arguably best known for her 2016 role in Tom Ford’s intense-as-hell Nocturnal Animals, where she played Jake Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher’s ill-fated daughter. Oh, and she got to live the Shawn Mendes girlfriend fantasy, when he chased her all over Paris for his music video, Theres Nothing Holdin’ Me Back. Not afraid to take on dark roles, Ellie will hit the big screen this year in The Seven Sorrows Of Mary, the true story of an American exchange student who, after being kidnapped in Brazil, alongside her boyfriend (played by James Frecheville)
endured a brutal gang rape in a tiny van. Ellie confesses that taking on the role was deeply troubling, “I was sent a link after filming to watch it, and I still can’t revisit it, yet.”
After months spent filming horrific rape scenes in the confined space, she says, “I asked if I could torch the van at the end. The emotions were so intense on set and in my head – most people only spoke Portuguese, so l couldn’t speak their language and felt even more apart from everything that was happening around me. I did feel quite lonely at times.” How did she escape putting her body and mind through such a harrowing experience? “I watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians at the weekends; I feel like that was a nice release.”
Away from the cameras, Ellie has always defiantly forged her own path, admitting she’s as happy “riding my skateboard wearing Chanel” as she is, placard in hand, marching through Trafalgar Square on a protest. It’s this empowered attitude that helped her land the career-defining role of Cosette in BBCs recent Les Misérables series. Described in the original 1862 book as, ‘a barefooted adventuress with gypsy blood in her veins’, Cosette is an apt reflection of Ellie’s bohemian 2.0 personality
So, does she see any of herself in these strong, spirited characters who’ve faced hardship, especially as a woman in this post – #MeToo world ? “I ‘m not afraid ou to be me and push my opinions. At school, it always felt like girls were pitted against each other-that’s so awful and sad and something that I never do. It’s about accepting everyone and their choices.”
Part of Ellie’s endearing charm is she’s as self-assured and down-to-earth in her moral code as she is with her beauty routine, admitting in the past that she still goes to her gran’s a former hairdresser- in Essex, to have her roots done. But despite being a new-gen Ginger Spice thanks to her days – and roles as a redhead, Ellie is in fact “naturally this blonde. I had my hair dyed red for Pride And Prejudice And Zombies in 2015, and I’ve only just gone back to my natural colour,” she confesses, swishing her hair. But as a young feminist, how does she feel about the question that will not die: can you be a feminist and be into beauty? “Women should be able to do what the hell they like – unless it’s against the law!” she replies, puffing out her cheeks.
“Beauty is important to me, but I don’t think it defines me”. She has the same no-BS approach to handling life in spotlight, even more so since attention started swirling round her relationship and break-up with Bodyguard’s Richard Madden last year. Her secret? Stay grounded. “It gets dangerous if you change the way you act, if you stop being yourself,” she confides. “I would never stop being me. Everyone has a subjective opinion and I think it’s better not to worry about what other people think”. It’s why you can forget getting into dating chat – AKA the bane of many twentysomethings lives – with Ellie. “I’m so focused on my career,” she says.“I am my own independent woman, so why does it matter who I date?” Destiny’s Child would, no doubt, approve.
The Seven Sorrows Of Mary will be released later in 2019