These are the kinds of moments that we draw on when we look back. Nineteen-year-old Ellie Bamber already has a few. Part of the UK’s next wave of promising young actors; she—quite literally—kicked ass with her portrayal of a young Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. “We learned how to fight for three months in this barn in the English countryside,” Bamber says on the phone from London, “I remember at one point, me and Lily [James] were ‘battling’ each other and everyone else was looking at Lily and thinking ‘Are you crazy? You’re letting her take you on?’ I, literally, was just flailing around, and was so close to stabbing her in the face.”
Bamber started in theater. She says “It was something that I started pursuing and wanting to do more of as a way to express myself,” it seems her risk has paid off, as she was recently nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre award for her part in Kevin Spacey’s musical High Society, the last production spacey did as artistic director of London’s Old Vic theater.
Fast forward to Bamber stepping foot on her first American set for the upcoming film Nocturnal Animals—Tom Ford’s second film—starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, and Isla Fisher, “I’ve never worked with a director who was aesthetically-driven like that,” she says, “I was blown away with what we could create with the power of his vision.” The iconic fashion designer was not adverse to on-set clowning: “I had these amazing silver boots when I was filming and I used to wear them the whole time—they probably have holes in them now— he’d call me Barbarella."
Note though, Bamber hasn’t skipped out on the good times along the way. Take for example her 19th birthday: “It was the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies premiere and we were all celebrating the launch at a club, then Lionsgate [Films] came out with this massive cake and Matt [Smith] and Lily and everyone started singing ‘Happy birthday.’ It was a massive surprise, and later that night we ended up in carriages.” That’s one off the bucket list.