Bombshell: Annabelle Wallis
Story by Christine Tran
Photography by Alex Freund
Annabelle Wallis is well schooled in the art of acting. With her impressive background —she speaks four languages, lives internationally and is the epitome of a British beauty— Wallis is on the fast track to success. She not only received formal training at a drama school in London, but she also carries the distinction of being niece to renowned actor, Richard Harris. And though just a short time ago, few knew her name, Wallis’ recent work on ABC’s Pan Am, a role in Madonna’s film W.E., and her famous portrayal of Jane Seymour on Showtime’s highly acclaimed series, The Tudors, has propelled her to instant fame. This month, Wallis will be starring alongside actors Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman adding to her ever-growing list of accomplishments. So it comes as no surprise, then, that the actress has quickly emerged to become one of Hollywood’s (and even Bollywood’s) newest, most versatile and endlessly fascinating stars.
Can you tell us about your upbringing and what it was like attending school in Portugal?
I grew up in a place just outside of Lisbon on the coast. To grow up with people from all different walks of life and from all different cultures, to learn another language and to be completely embedded in the culture of a Latin country like Portugal was a wonderful thing. I’d love to do the same with my children.
How long did you live in Portugal?
How did you first get into acting?
I decided one day it was what I really wanted to do, and there was only so much I could do in Portugal. I wanted to go back to England to get to know my roots and I wanted to go to drama school, and it happened that I met an agent there and got a job quite quickly. It was something that was really quite organic.
You portrayed Jane Seymour on The Tudors. What’s your opinion on Jane?
She came into a marriage at a time when it was very dangerous to be a woman in a high position and to love a man of such power. The fact that she was able to be a silent storm, a politician in her own life…I always say she’d be the best politician. Women who play the silent, very shadowy figure behind the man…well, you know, they say behind every great man is a greater woman.
All the women here at CITYist would kill me if I didn’t ask you: What was it like working opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Were you two friends offset?
We’re great friends. We had Christmas lunch a couple months ago, but we keep in touch and we’re really great friends, us and all of The Tudors gang. I got a text last night from Max Brown and Henry Cavill saying everyone was going out and where was I. It was a wonderful set, and Jonathan spearheaded the passion in the room. When you work with someone so passionate who gives you so much, you can’t help but up your game. He’s a really funny guy. I was really thankful because I was so young and really nervous, and he made it a wonderful experience.
You play the Huntsman’s wife, Sara, in the upcoming adaptation, Snow White and the Huntsman. Can you tell us a little more about your character?
It’s really through my character that you understand the Huntsman. There’s a backstory that you may not know at the beginning, but once you start to understand it then you understand the Huntsman and his situation. If I tell you exactly what that [situation] is then I’ll tell you the whole story! It was a great film to be apart of. I hope people like it. I’m sure they will.
What was it like being directed by Madonna on the film W.E.?
So great. She’s by far one of the most iconic women of our time and of my generation. To have had the honor of her choosing me and then to be there and watch her be so clear, concise and passionate…it really shows young women what they can achieve: that being a woman is no different than being a man. We’re all equal and we can achieve great things. You can excel in all walks of life. She’s a testament to that.
You play Bridget Pierce in ABC’s Pan Am, a period drama television series set in the early 60’s. What’s your take on 60’s fashion?
We’re going from a kind of classic femininity into a slightly more sexy, rock ‘n’ roll, free thinking, modernistic femininity. Dressing the part is only one of the most vital things you can do for your character. That’s the thing about costumes, especially period costumes, you hold yourself differently and you move completely different. You become a character. You believe it more. You’re coming from an honest place because you feel it.
How would you describe your sense of style?
I could never really commit to one certain style, and I feel that’s due to the experiences I have in my life that are forever changing, forever evolving. I used to love just wearing black, but it photographs terribly! It’s interesting being someone people want to see clothes on. You have to learn the science of dressing.
When do you feel sexiest?
I feel sexiest if I feel confident.
And what item of clothing helps you feel that way?
Great lingerie is where you start, because if you’re feeling sexy, you’re hoping something sexy is about to happen right? [Laughs]. There’s something wonderful about putting on a dress or something that is one piece. It changes the way you feel. It could be a light summer dress because it’s so easy to put on and take off, and there’s something quite sexy about that.
How do you like living in Los Angeles?
I like Los Angeles. I feel very lucky. I don’t take for granted that it’s been kind to me and provided me with work. It’s what you make of it. Not everything is on your doorstep, but you find it.
Any plans for future projects?
I’ll be doing a film. I don’t think I’m allowed to say which. I’ll know in exactly three days. Imagine I announce it, and they fire me! What’ll happen then? [Laughs].
What do you do for fun when you’re away from the set?
I love to travel. Traveling, for me, is really the best thing. You go out of your bubble. [Actors] tend to live a very isolated, nomadic lifestyle, and we’re surrounded by our work and by the people we work with, and it’s hard to get out of that. It’s important to push the boundaries of yourself and go places and talk to people. Let life take over. You learn a lot and take away from that. It’s a great hobby, and it makes you a more well-rounded, more interesting person. Wisdom. You can’t replace wisdom. You can only add to it.