Ellie gave an interview to Women’s Wear Daily talking about ‘Les Misérables’, which is coming to American TV this weekend on PBS.
Ellie Bamber has been shuffling back and forth between various points in history. Up until recently she was in Bath and Bristol, filming Sixties-era bioseries ”The Trial of Christine Keeler.” In between filming, she revisited the 19th century and her role as Cosette in a new adaptation of “Les Misérables,” which premiered in Britain at the end of last year and is being released Stateside on April 14.
It wasn’t her first time portraying the iconic character from Victor Hugo’s iconic 1862 novel.
“I actually played Cosette in the school musical,” says the 22-year-old British actress, a frequent face in the front row at Chanel, who shares most of her screen time in the series with costar Dominic West. “She’s really this iconic representation of hope.”
While many viewers are familiar with the musical version of the story, the miniseries presents a more fleshed out adaptation of the book’s various characters and plot lines. “I mean, the book’s massive. There are so many stories and little details that most audiences haven’t seen before because they’ve just seen the musical,” says Bamber.
There’s been a literary through line in Bamber’s career thus far. Her first major on-screen role was in Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals,” an adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Susan,” and she also starred in a 2018 adaptation of Tao Lin’s novel “Taipei.” For the voracious reader, it’s been an opportunity to delve deeper into character study.
“I’m always reading. I’ve loved reading since I was young, and I’ve always loved sinking my teeth into a different world, especially one that you begin to create in your head,” she says. “I had the privilege to do that with ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,’ and with Cosette,” she says. “I feel like the books that I’m reading at any given time will really help me with my work, because it’s just more characters, and you see new people while you’re reading,” she says.
Despite her busy shooting schedule, she recently finished Sally Rooney’s “Normal People,” and is onto Elif Batuman’s “The Idiot”; both are coming-of-age stories. And yes, she read the entirety of Hugo’s tome, all 1,400-ish pages.
“I actually broke the book into sections to make it a bit more manageable, which I’ve never done with a book before. It’s probably not a good thing to do, but I was trying to carry it around while I was traveling,” says Bamber.
The show is similarly broken up, into six hourlong episodes. “Hugo goes so far into Cosette’s backstory — it’s unreal. I mean, the amount of information I had to play with was such a big portion of how I then created Cosette, because I really wanted her to be as faithful to Hugo’s novel as I possibly could, and obviously there’s a script, but we can work with both of them. It’s a real gift to have a book to work alongside with.”
While still very early in her career, Bamber has taken on several challenging roles, and her next projects, which take cues from real events, are no exception. In “The Seven Sorrows of Mary,” her character is tasked with escaping a violent kidnapping situation abroad; for “The Trial of Christine Keeler,” which she wrapped in early April, she portrays Keeler’s friend Mandy Rice-Davies. The upcoming BBC miniseries explores the Profumo scandal and its implications from the women’s point of view: That they were used as scapegoats for the wrongdoings of men in high power.
“The interesting thing about that is that they were living in a time where men were allowed to sleep around, but women, if they did so, were accused of being prostitutes and named all kinds of awful names,” says Bamber, who attributes a shift in public perception — and certainly a different perspective on the situation when considering it in 2019 — to the two women.
“I think now when people see ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler,’ I just think and hope it will mean that people aren’t so quick to judge and put labels on these two young women,” says Bamber. “And try to understand the situation they were in, because they were both so young. Mandy was 18, and to be thrown to the lions at that age is an incredible thing to have to go through.”
And like Cosette, Bamber views Rice-Davies’ path as ultimately representative of hope: She leveraged the media attention for success and fortune.
“So she takes this horrible situation where she’s named a prostitute and a poor girl, and she just kind of drives on,” adds Bamber. “And it’s just amazing to see like a woman who wasn’t defined by that one situation and who just then lives her life afterwards.”
In addition to the interview, Ellie’s new portraits were made for publication. The photos were taken by Olivia Thompson and you can see them by clicking on the photos below;
Ellie gave an interview to the Evening Standard where she talked about ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler’. Read the interview below.
Rising star Ellie Bamber has said she was “drawn” to the complex female roles in her new drama about one of the great scandals in British politics.
The Les Miserables actress, 22, finished shooting The Trial Of Christine Keeler, a six-part BBC One drama about the Profumo Affair, this week.
It also stars James Norton, of McMafia and Grantchester fame, Silent Witness star Emilia Fox and Sophie Cookson, best known for her role in the hit Kingsman movies, who plays Keeler, a 19-year-old model who had a brief affair in 1961 with prime minister Harold Macmillan’s secretary of state for war, John Profumo. It sparked a political crisis for the government in 1963.
Bamber plays model and showgirl Mandy Rice-Davies, the friend who introduces Keeler to Profumo’s wealthy set. The actress said: “I don’t think the story of Christine and Mandy has ever been told from a woman’s point of view. This [drama] is definitely from that side. I think it’s really important because they weren’t prostitutes, they weren’t whores, they were just two very, very young women who were totally manipulated and called names that they definitely weren’t.”
Bamber, who gained recognition for her turn in Tom Ford’s Oscar-nominated film Nocturnal Animals, in which her character is brutally raped and murdered, also recently completed filming a “really harrowing” crime movie, The Seven Sorrows Of Mary
She had to wear a hairpiece for the role in the Keeler drama, meaning she could walk down the street unnoticed. “My hair is a lot shorter and I have my fake fringe on when I’m playing Mandy, so I have to walk around in that sometimes,” she told the Evening Standard shortly before filming ended. “I haven’t really noticed it [fan attention] at all. I’m just really enjoying the work.”
Bamber, whose profile rose on winning an Ian Charleson Award for her 2017 performance as Hilde in Ibsen’s The Lady From The Sea at the Donmar Warehouse, is keen to return to the London stage. She said: “I really, really, really want to get back to the stage soon … I don’t really have one particular role in mind, but I would just like to be stretched and to find a few interesting female characters who go on a real journey throughout the play.”
From this week, Bamber’s portrait will hang alongside stars such as Natalie Dormer, of Game Of Thrones, in J Sheekey, a restaurant in Covent Garden. The exhibit, shot by celebrity photographer Chris Floyd, “recognises the new wave of talent” in the capital. Bamber said she feels “really honoured” to be included.
Les Miserables and Nocturnal Animals star, Ellie Bamber goes speed dating with GLAMOUR’s @JoshSmithHosts and reveals some surprising facts about her. Ellie reveals what crisp flavour she would be “Spaghetti Bolognese” (NICHE!), sums her character in contemporary dance and that her dream role would be Britney Spears in ‘Britney Spears: The Musical.” Who else is praying that might actually happen IRL?
See the screen captures by clicking on the thumbnails below.
Ellie Bamber gave an interview to the website (whimn.com.au) to talk about Les Misérables that debuts this month in Australia.
The screenwriter Andrew Davies is known for adding much-needed doses of raunch to all your beloved period dramas.
It was Davies after all, blessed man, who told Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy to dive into that pond at Pemberley, white shirt and everything, and it is Davies who has put a little frisson of sex into his latest project: a six-part dramatic adaptation (meaning, no singing) of Les Misérables airing on BBC First this month.
In the first episode alone Dominic West, whose Jean Valjean is miserly and crooked until he meets Fantine (Lily Collins), exposes his bare bottom in front of Javert (David Oyelowo). And then later in the series, Marius (Josh O’Connor, soon to be seen as the Young Prince Charles in season three of The Crown), besotted at the sight of the ethereal Cosette (Ellie Bamber), falls to his knees and kisses her feet as a sign of his undying devotion.
This, it turns out, was the scene given during the Les Misérables audition process to 21-year-old Bamber, the Chanel muse and ingenue plucked from school to star in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals as the daughter of Isla Fisher and Jake Gyllenhaal. (“Australia’s most gorgeous, funny woman,” Bamber enthuses. “I love Isla so much.”)
A roster of Mariuses were given the stage directions to kiss Bamber’s feet in the audition room, but only O’Connor was game enough to follow through. “He fucking went for it,” Bamber says, a huge grin on her face. “It was really amazing, and I thought, “Okay, this seems legit, let’s keep going,” she recalls. It was a sign of connection and intimacy between the two young actors that would only grow as the production went on. Besides, Bamber adds, “It was only the bridge of my foot, so it was okay.”
The two have an instant, zingy chemistry that translates offscreen. At the press launch for the series in London, Bamber spies O’Connor in a dapper-looking suit over my shoulder and flips him the bird. “You’re suited!” she laughs incredulously, before rolling her eyes at me. “That’s our Josh.”
That there should be more than just a hint of sex in Les Misérables will come as no surprise to those who know the original novel well. Written by Victor Hugo, a man so beloved by the local Parisian prostitutes that when he died the brothels shut their doors for a day in mourning, the story is essentially one of the first fuckboy in literary history. Fantine is spectacularly led astray by Felix, a man who has no intention of doing anything right by her, and by the end of the first episode she is left to fend for herself and her infant daughter Cosette all on her own. (To Felix, Cosette’s ne’er-do-well father, we would like to say thank u, next.)
But the beating heart of Les Misérables’ romance are Marius and Cosette, whose wholesome, swoony love story runs as a counterpoint to the roster of men who took advantage of Fantine right up until her death.
There’s been a lot of sex onscreen this past year, especially in Bamber’s ex-boyfriend Richard Madden’s television show Bodyguard. (The pair split in January.) No doubt there’ll be more in Bamber’s next project, The Trial of Christine Keeler, a BBC dramatisation of the scandalous Profumo affair, as seen on season two of The Crown. (Bamber plays model Mandy-Rice Davies in the series, which also stars James Norton and Sophie Cookson.) In Les Misérables, however, the sex is every day implied but never declared.
“There’s something to be said for some sex [on television],” Bamber says, “but this isn’t graphic.” So there’s no ripping of corsets? “No!” she says, emphatically, laughing. “Cosette has been sheltered in a convent her whole life, she doesn’t know what love is. So when when she meets Marius she can’t identify these feelings… I think her love is so pure because she feels it so greatly.”
But it is also a love story about the relationship between a father and daughter as Cosette teaches Valjean how to open his heart up to the world again. “It’s so nice that there is such romance at the heart of it,” Bamber says. “I’ve always seen Cosette as a representation of hope and love.”
On the set of the miniseries in Belgium Bamber spent most of her time with West listening to trap music. “I love telling this story because it was such a shock for me as well,” she grins at me. “One morning I said ‘Dominic I hope you don’t mind if I play some trap music,’ and he said ‘No, I love trap music’ and next minute we’re both dancing around the truck. We had a real laugh.”
According to Bamber, it’s that ebullient energy that makes Les Misérables metaphorically sing. “If you think about all of the bad things that are happening in this world,” Bamber says, it’s no wonder that the time is ripe for an epic period drama. “[The BBC] are so good at it because they bring magical stories to life. It’s escapism.”
Les Misérables is on BBC First and is available to stream on-demand from Foxtel.
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