Ellie Bamber Talks Chanel And Nocturnal Animals

Ellie Bamber Talks Chanel And Nocturnal Animals

MEET THE RISING STARLET THAT HAS EVERYONE FROM KARL LAGERFELD TO TOM FORD TALKING

MEET THE RISING STARLET THAT HAS EVERYONE FROM KARL LAGERFELD TO TOM FORD TALKING

Photography: Casper Sejersen

Styling: Donatella Musco

Text: Katharine K. Zarrella

Ellie Bamber is a triple threat. She acts, she sings, and she can twirl knives like a street fighter. The 19-year-old acquired that last skill while working on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Burr Steers’s recent film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, which sees the Jane Austen classic set during a zombie apocalypse.

“When I heard the title of the project, I was a little shocked,” admits Bamber, who plays Lydia Bennet. “But my dad persuaded me to give it a chance. It’s actually very clever because it introduces this younger audience to the world of Jane Austen.” To learn how to fend off the walking dead, Bamber trained relentlessly, honing her combat skills with castmates Lily James and Sam Riley in a barn outside London. “One day [after rehearsal], I went into London with these fake green knives in my bag, and I remember thinking that I actually felt really protected. Obviously, they were plastic swords, but I had been training for quite a long time and I felt ready to conquer the world.”

Lately, Bamber has been doing just that. When I spoke with the British talent, she was just back from Chanel’s Paris in Rome Métiers d’Art show, which was held last December in the Eternal City’s famed Cinecittà. (For those unfamiliar, the iconic 1937 film studio has been used for everything from La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday, and Cleopatra, to Gangs of New York, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Zoolander 2.) As Chanel’s newest ambassador, Bamber had a front row seat to the festivities, for which the fashion house created a fantastical fusion of French and Italian culture. And while the poised young actor speaks with a maturity and sense of self that is far beyond her years, a childlike glee sneaks out as she recalls the runway spectacular. “Oh, wow, it was incredible,” she coos. “It was my first big show and it bombarded my senses. You had the set, the smells when they started cooking food—they had a fromagerie and a boulangerie—and the clothes were so beautiful. Each piece had such attention to detail. It was amazing because it was a combination of fashion and cinema—two things I really love.”

Chanel’s opulent défilé struck a chord with Bamber not because of its grandeur, but because fashion plays a large role in her cinematic career. “Along with music, fashion and film really go together. Fashion is really important to my process when I’m developing a character.” This has been the case since Bamber’s stage debut, when she played the lead in a local community theater’s production of Annie. “My grandmother has a picture on her fridge of me all dressed up with my rags on, and it’s funny—it always reminds me of how it all started.”

Indeed Bamber, who has been acting since she was 11, has come a long way since her turn as everyone’s favorite little orphan and her latest role might just be her biggest one yet. After sending in an audition tape, Bamber landed the part of Helen in Tom Ford’s forthcoming film, Nocturnal Animals. “I play Jake Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher’s daughter,” Bamber says. “Tom is a totally different director from anyone I’ve ever worked with. He creates the film entirely, from the acting to the fashion. It’s wonderful how detailed he is, and I think it’s a very harrowing story, as well.” In fact, the script, which is based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel, Tony and Susan, brought Bamber to tears. “I read it in about a half an hour flat. I was in a café, I ordered some food, I had the script in front of me, and I remember sitting there crying and reading. The waiter came over and was like, ‘Are you still eating?’ And I hadn’t even started.”

Nocturnal Animals was partially shot in the Mojave Desert. “I’d never been to a desert before, and I’m so pale that it sort of didn’t compute,” laughed the fieryhaired (but naturally blond) English rose. Bamber has been traveling quite a bit these days, between the trip to Rome, frequent visits to L.A., and bouts filming in far-flung locales. She’s currently on the hunt for a flat in London, but her family’s home just outside the Big Smoke is never far from her heart. “My mum is my manager, and my family is really important to me. I honestly couldn’t have done this without them.”

This story is taken from V101, our Fashion & Film issue out May 5. Click here to pre-order your copy now.

BAMBER WEARS CLOTHING AND JEWELRY CHANEL FROM THE PARIS IN ROME COLLECTION
BAMBER WEARS CLOTHING AND JEWELRY CHANEL FROM THE PARIS IN ROME COLLECTION

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