Jess By October 24, 2016 0 Comments

When I was little there were loads of things I wanted to be. At one point it was an astronaut and then I think I wanted to be an orange – just because I thought I could be actually anything!” says 19-year-old actress Ella Purnell. Thankfully her ambitions changed somewhat over the ensuing years, in large part due to acting workshops that a shy Ella went to as a child to make friends. “When you’re a kid it’s fun, it doesn’t feel like a job. Acting was always just something I did because I enjoyed it.”

Ella’s first role, playing a young Keira Knightley in Never Let Me Go, marked a turning point and all thoughts of astronauts (and oranges) disappeared from her mind. Critics and casting agents alike sat up and took notice, and a then 13-year-old Ella caught the acting bug big time. “It wasn’t until around this time that I thought about acting as a real job,” she says. She clearly had a knack for it, though, because more ‘youngers’, as she calls them, followed – there was a young Angelina Jolie in Maleficent that was filmed days after Ella came out of hospital with appendicitis, and this year a young Margot Robbie in The Legend of Tarzan. So with a healthy CV of ‘youngers’, is Ella now itching to escape the label?

She’ll have to put youngers on hold for the moment though, because next up is Ella’s biggest role to date, the part of Emma Bloom in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, which was – at least according to her brothers – a dream role for her to nab. “They’d read the book and they were obsessed with me getting the role. They wrote me good luck cards for the audition, even though they’ve never paid attention to my work before!” she says. “For me though the biggest pull was Tim Burton; he’s the number one director that I’ve always wanted to work with.”

And it seems that Tim Burton lived up to his reputation – according to Ella there were many peculiarities on set, including the mystery of the five-foot carrot that sat outside the director’s trailer for weeks and caused much confusion among the cast. “Just an average day in Tim Burton’s world!” Ella says, laughing.

Following the film’s release, Ella is planning to dive head first into her acting career, but after listening to her animatedly chatting – about everything from fashion to dance classes at Frame and a renewed love of playing piano – you get the feeling that this is only one of the many strings to her bow. “I’m open to everything. I want to write, I want to direct, I want to make music,” she enthuses. “And I’ve also just set up a charity with my friend, called Educate2Eradicate, so I want to dedicate time to that too. I just want to keep my head down and keep carrying on!”

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