Shows like Downtown Abbey have created a new appetite for British drama and English actor Lara Pulver is one of the hottest new exports. Now located in Hollywood, Pulver is being kept busy by big channels commissioning UK-based dramas. “British talent is really thriving right now,” she says. “Americans find British programs fascinating because it’s a world that’s so far away. Having the fantastical escapism of something like Downton Abbey or an epic British drama like Sherlock frees people’s imaginations.”
While the name may not ring a bell, fans of the stupendously successful drama Sherlock will recognise her face – or at least her body – after she famously went nude in a scene opposite Benedict Cumberbatch as the temptress Irene Adler. She has also starred in hit shows including Robin Hood, True Blood and Spooks, and she’s just wrapped filming Fleming, the hotly anticipated biopic of the English writer behind James Bond, which is set to hit the small screen later this year. It sees her play alongside a string of other prominent British stars including Dominic Jones as Fleming; Annabelle Wallis as Muriel, a young girl who catches Fleming’s eye; and rising English actor Rupert Evans as Fleming’s brother. Pulver plays Ann O’Neil, who many describe as the real-life inspiration for the writer’s Bond girls.
She seems to specialise in playing strong women: “I have an on-screen presence that has a strength,” she says. “I know who I am and I have a belief in that. I love playing vulnerable as well but even my vulnerability seems to have a strength to it. This leads to trends – Reese Witherspoon is always going to be the girl next door, you would never see her playing an Angelina Jolie-type character.” Her latest project, which explores the early life of Leonardo Di Vinci, sees her play another strong female lead. “The main difference between Irene Adler in Sherlock and Clarice Orsini in Da Vinci’s Demon is that Irene did things for effect or to create a response where Clarisse is so comfortable with who she is – she can say so much in very few words.”
Will she be returning to the UK any time soon? She says LA is keeping her busy for now. “Will it be where I live forever? I don’t know. But it’s such a lovely, exciting chapter in my life.”
Da Vinci’s Demons airs at 10pm on Friday 19 April on FOX.