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HUNGER – Rebecca Hall’s decision to drop out of university in her final year to pursue acting may have been a risky one, but the gamble has certainly paid off. Although, with Sir Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and opera singer Maria Ewing as parents, perhaps it wasn’t really that much of a gamble – the stage seems to be in her blood.

In 2008, following a number of theatre roles, and smaller parts in Starter for 10 and The Prestige, Hollywood came knocking and she landed the part of good girl Vicky in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for which she picked up a Golden Globe nomination. Then came Frost/Nixon, The Town and The Awakening, and her BAFTA-winning portrayal of a traumatised mother in Red Riding: In The Year of Our Lord 1974. And last year Rebecca proved that she can also tackle blockbusters when she took on brainy biologist Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3. With a starring role opposite Johnny Depp this year, it looks like she should get used to having Hollywood at her door.

REBECCA, YOUR DAD IS BRITISH AND YOUR MUM IS AMERICAN, DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH ONE CULTURE MORE THAN THE OTHER?

I identify more with British culture because I grew up here, and I went to school and university here. I’m a Londoner and I always have been. It doesn’t mean I’m not very at home in American culture, though. I have an understanding of it, and there’s a part of me that feels fairly American when I go there, but I feel home is home and that’s London.

OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS YOU’VE BEEN LISTED AS AN UP AND COMER, BUT YOUR LAST FEW FILMS HAVE BEEN HUGE SUCCESSES. DO YOU FINALLY FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ESTABLISHED IN THE ACTING WORLD?

It’s hard to define what established is. In this industry success comes in the form of getting parts and there’s always going to be a level of insecurity in that, so I don’t think any actor ever rests on their laurels and thinks, “That’s it. I’m made now.” But for a long time now, there has always been another job lined up for me. That’s as much as I can hope for.

YOUR LATEST FILM IS TRANSCENDENCE. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ROLE?

It was a really extraordinary and original story. I’m not sure how much I can say about it yet! I wanted to work with Wally [Pfister] again, and I support him as a director because he’s just brilliant. I obviously wanted to work with Johnny [Depp] and it was just an insanely brilliant cast, so it was very exciting. There was nothing about that project that I was dubious about.

IT’S PROBABLY EVERY WOMAN’S FANTASY TO STAR ALONGSIDE JOHNNY DEPP. HOW DID YOU GET ALONG AS CO-STARS?

Very well, actually. He’s not the kind of actor who wants to talk about acting all the time, and I think I’m very much the same way, so we spent a lot of the time chatting about books and music. He really enjoys a laugh and he’s quite an Anglophile. He likes British culture, things like The Fast Show, so we’d end up having a gossip all the time and quoting bits of The Fast Show, which is something that I never imagined would happen with him.

THE FILM EXPLORES A WORLD IN WHICH COMPUTERS AND ROBOTS TRANSCEND THE CAPABILITIES OF THE HUMAN BRAIN. DID IT GIVE YOU ANY NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE FUTURE?

Yes, and I keep up with technology a lot more now. When I read the script I thought, “Fabulous story, but it’s all Hollywood chat and invention.” Then I researched it, and I realised that I was so in the dark about what was going on and how people think about the future. The notion that technology advances exponentially rather than linearly fascinates me. Researching was a bit of an eye-opener. Now I’m much more likely to read the Observer Tech Monthly.

YOU’RE FAMED FOR PLAYING CLEVER CHARACTERS. WHAT DRAWS YOU TO THEM MORE THAN OTHERS?

I don’t think I’m particularly drawn to them; people just ask me to do it. They must assume that I’m clever. More fool them!

DO YOU EVER WORRY ABOUT BEING TYPECAST?

People worry about being typecast all the time, but I personally don’t think I have been yet. People do tend to ask me to play similar roles if they think that I’ve done it well in the past, but I tend not to go for them again. It has to be something different and there has to be a new avenue to explore. I think of myself as a character actress, I ultimately pick characters that stretch me.

IT’S STILL ARGUED THAT THERE AREN’T ENOUGH MEATY FILM ROLES FOR WOMEN. DO YOU AGREE?

Yeah, sadly I do. There’s a tendency to assume that women aren’t allowed to be, or expected to be, at the forefront of films that aren’t rom-coms or period dramas, and it’s crazy. I don’t see why we shouldn’t be given equal roles – there are certainly enough stories out there. But I do think it’s changing, I feel that there’s been a backlash, and the tide seems to be turning and creating a new wave of feminism, which is really exciting.

YOU’VE BEEN BRANDED AS A SEX SYMBOL. IS THIS A TAG YOU’RE COMFORTABLE WITH?

Well, it’s not something I’d get on my high horse and scream about! It’s not that bad, is it? If I was being considered a sex symbol because I was constantly getting my cleavage out on the red carpet, then it would be a different story. There’s being a sex symbol, and then there’s being a sex symbol who is considered sexy, but also smart. I’d like to think that that’s the line I’m treading, though it’s a fragile one. I don’t like the fact that women are objectified and that there’s more print time spent on what I’m wearing or not wearing on the red carpet than there is about what I actually do for a living. But I know there’s nothing wrong with being sexy and the last thing I’d want to do is not allow women to be sexy – that’s an objective of feminism.

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