Luck of the Drewe; She's One of British Cinema's Hottest Young Things and Her Latest Film Looks Set to Cement Her Reputation as a Smouldering Sexpot. but, Finds Rob Driscoll, Gemma Arterton Has a Lot More Going for Her Than That
AS entrances go, Gemma Arterton's arrival as the title character of her new movie Tamara Drewe is a memorable one - dressed as she is in a tiny pair of denim shorts which leave little to the imagination.
Then, having sashayed along a country lane in the rear-hugging cut-offs, she is then required to climb over a stile - much to the fascination of a handful of goggle-eyed local yokels.
The scene is both sexy and hilarious - and will undeniably send 24-year-old Arterton's rating on the radar of her adoring male fanbase hurtling even higher.
But how keen was the fastrising British actress to sport such a revealing ensemble on the big-screen? "Oh, I actually went in there and said, 'Please can you make me the shortest, most uncomfortable shorts ever?'" smiles Arterton, her tongue wedged in cheek.
"No, it's in the book, and it's a memorable scene, those hot pants. And for the ensuing joke, the wonderful punch line delivered by Tamsin Grieg, (which we can't really repeat here), they had to be ridiculously provocative. "So I actually had a screen test, where I wore various styles of shorts.
"As I walked along, they went, 'Shorter, shorter!' and so they became quite short.
"We'll be auctioning them for charity at the end of the year."
This is proving to be Arterton's break-out year. Granted, she's previously been a Bond girl, but already this year we have seen her in two spring/ summer blockbusters, Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia.
She's proved herself more than capable of holding her own opposite Hollywood hunks like Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam "Avatar" Worthington, but her latest effort is something else entirely.
It's this joyful, yet often dark and raucous, rural comedy based on Posy Simmonds' fondlyregarded comic strip (or graphic novel, in current parlance), that will truly cement her reputation as the new "It" girl of British cinema, while Arterton herself sees the role as the closest to herself yet.
The film, a big hit at Cannes in May, is set in a sleepy Dorset village, where Arterton's eponymous prodigal heroine returns after many years, having re-invented herself as a successful London journalist, to renovate and sell the family home after the death of her mother.
Having left the village as an awkward, ugly duckling teenager, Tamara returns as a smouldering femme fatale, complete with a sleek nose job, kicking up a storm of envy, lust and gossip, and stoking up the ardour of several men whose paths she happens to cross.
These include her one-time teenage boyfriend, handyman hunk Andy Cobb (played by Welsh actor Luke Evans), resident author and serial philanderer Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), and rock drummer and teen idol Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper), all of whose attentions invite the burning question: Who will woo Tamara Drewe? "I wanted to play Tamara, because she's not really the heroine, she's very flawed but that's what makes her real," says Arterton, who was born and grew up in Gravesend, Kent.
"It's the closest role to me, I suppose, that I've played.
"She's a modern girl, sort of charming, she makes snide and witty remarks and I like to think that's like me!
"It was also so refreshing to play someone who was written by a woman, who is very modern.
"What I really love about Tamara is that all the time she's playing at being so confident and charming, but deep down, she's a total wreck," she adds.
"She can be rather promiscuous and thoughtless in her actions, and she doesn't always think how they're going to affect anyone else and that's a modern thing as well.
"It's a very honest portrayal, I think.
"The insecurities that she has, I'd say, are very relevant to what happens to girls now - this whole need to fit in, the need to look beautiful, to be successful, and doing anything in order to get like that. …