Despite being only 18-years old, Hammersmith local, and Game of Thrones and Les Miserables actress Antonia Clarke has already made her impact on screen, says Will Gore
For actors who have been perfecting their craft for any decent amount of time, the concept of the failed audition will be a familiar one. Except for the very lucky ones, rejection comes with the luvvie territory and one young actor, Hammersmith born and bred Antonia Clarke, learned all about this painful truism at the start of her career.
At the age of 15, when Antonia was a pupil at Berkshire boarding school Downe House, she failed to make it into the cast for that year’s school play. Yet rather than simply move on to something else, she instead decided to take matters into her own hands.
‘Up until the age of 15 I hadn’t really been interested in acting, but then when I didn’t get into the school play it really made me want to pursue it in my own time,’ she tells me.
‘I really didn’t know anyone in the business and so just went to an open audition that I found when I was flicking through The Stage magazine. There was an open casting call for this new agency, so I went and did a monologue and they signed me up.’
What was it about acting that got Antonia, who is now 18 and left Downe House last year, so fired up that she pursued a professional career at such a young age? ‘The reason I like acting is that you get to experience emotions you wouldn’t normally experience in everyday life, and I’ve always been interested in people and thought about what it must be like to be a different person,’ she explains.
Her acting ambitions were also inspired by a number of trips to the theatre, including many visits to The Lyric. One production at the Hammersmith theatre has particularly stuck in her mind. ‘I saw The Three Sisters there with Romola Garai playing one of the lead roles. I fell in love with the production and really love that play now. When I saw that show I already wanted to be an actress, but it just made me want it even more.’
Antonia has already got a number of film and television appearances under her belt. Spots in TV shows such as Holby City and Skins have been chalked up. Most excitingly she had a role in the big-screen version of Les Miserables, performing as part of the chorus in a scene alongside Anne Hathaway.
‘I had finished filming a Holby City episode and went straight onto the set of Les Mis so the contrast was huge,’ she says. ‘It was scary because I’ve never really done any dance or theatre before and it was much more theatrical than what I was used to. A lot of the other cast members had done the stage show or had been in different productions in the West End, so I was a bit out my comfort zone but a good experience.
‘I never thought in a million years I’d get that part, so I was really glad to be part of it. To get to see Anne Hathaway, warming up for the scene and everything she did to prepare herself, was amazing.’
Although Antonia says she normally hates watching her performances back, she couldn’t resist taking friends and family to see the film at one of her local cinemas, the Vue in Westfield. ‘They loved seeing me in it, but then it’s such a good film anyway. When my name popped up at the end they all cheered!’
This year looks set to be another good one for the young star. A futuristic film called Mindscape, that she recently shot with Mark Strong and Brian Cox, is on the horizon, and you can currently catch her playing a leading role in the ITV series, Lightfields, a period-shifting drama in which she performs as both a young girl and her ghost.
Playing a supernatural character was an exciting challenge for her. ‘It was cool because I’ve never played a ghost before. It’s easy when you do play one to go for that stereotypical spooky presence but I was lucky with Lightfields. I really got to know the character before she was a ghost by playing her when she was alive too.’
Although Antonia’s career is currently very much in the ascendancy, she says her two older brothers help keep her feet on the ground. After the excitement of Les Miserables and Lightfields she is now spending time hanging out with her friends in Hammersmith, who are either students or on their gap years. She is also braving the audition circuit, in the hope of hunting down her next job. If Clarke’s career so far is anything to go by, she won’t be hunting for too long.