Ellie Bamber is no stranger when it comes to the classics. The 21-year-old is set to portray Louise in the upcoming film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, followed by a starring role in the BBC’s six-part version of the iconic musical Les Misérables. And while Ellie’s version of Cosette (played in the 2012 film by Amanda Seyfried) won’t be hitting any high E’s — since the series will not be a musical — the performer is certainly comfortable singing her heart out.
Ellie tells Teen Vogue on the set of the Young Hollywood shoot that her first dip into acting was onstage, in a musical called Aspects of Love. From there, the rest is basically history, since she fell in love with performing. Incidentally, this won’t be Ellie’s first trip to 19th-century France; she also performed in a production of Les Mis when she was in school. However, she adds that Cosette is “a dream role,” noting that this version of the musical will be a totally different experience.
“You’re going to see these characters in different ways because we’re going back to the original novel,” Ellie explains, citing the 1,400-page classic by Victor Hugo. “We’re bringing details that have never been seen before,” she adds, describing elements being included as “very romantic” and “stunning.” The actor notes that fans of the musical are in for a “new and interesting” take on the popular Broadway classic. She starts filming in Brussels soon and has gotten a chance to see some of the wardrobe — which she knows is an essential part of telling a character’s journey.
The young artist’s upcoming projects may take her out of the theater momentarily, but she raves about the lessons she’s learned while working on productions in venues both big and small. She recounts doing the musical comedy High Society at the Old Vic in London and working with Kwame Kwei-Armah, who changed the way she looks at new roles. Ellie describes the experience as being like one big family, thanks to spending countless hours in a close environment, which included plenty of dancing around to playlists brought in by the other performers.
For Ellie, one of the best parts of revamping these classic titles is bringing in new audiences. Even if musical theater isn’t your cup of tea, you might fall in love with this version of Les Mis and want to go see it onstage — and Ellie hopes that’s exactly what happens. “There is really nothing like seeing a live stage performance,” she promises.
Les Mis isn’t the only classic that Ellie gets to bring into 2018. She tells Teen Vogue that The Nutcracker — which will be released in theaters in November — is a “reimagining” of the traditional story found within the holiday-themed ballet. The film also stars Twilight’s Mackenzie Foy as Clara, Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger.
In addition to her passion for telling timeless stories, Ellie cares deeply about gender equality within Hollywood — especially in light of the current Time’s Up movement. She notes that it’s essential to have women behind the camera as well as onscreen, adding that everything that happens behind the scenes “translates to the front.”
“The idea of bringing equality not just to entertainment but to every walk of life, I think it’s very important,” she says. “There should be no segregation. Everyone should be united, and everyone should be seen as equals.”
If Ellie has her way, Hollywood will continue down this path. She hopes that roles will continue to get better for women, and she also looks forward to obtaining more challenging roles herself — ones that would “take me somewhere that maybe I haven’t been before.” Given that she’s already accomplished so much, we’re expecting to see her go to many new places — and continue to shine all the way.
The actress and model, 20, was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award last year for her role in High Society at the Old Vic and is starring in The Lady From The Sea at the Donmar. Next up is the Disney’s live-action version of The Nutcracker And The Four Realms alongside Dame Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley.
Oh, and she’s an ambassador for Chanel.
We meet in a private room at members’ club Library on St Martin’s Lane on a chilly afternoon before Bamber’s evening performance of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea at the Donmar Warehouse.