Why Gemma Arterton is the Role Model We Didn't Even Know We Had

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Actress Gemma Arterton attends 'Their Finest' Mayor's Centrepiece Gala screening during the 60th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 13, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)
Source: John Phillips/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Greatness often comes from unexpected places, including a lady action star who you might have thought was just another actress trying to become a super star. Actress Gemma Arterton, whose recent studio work includes the deplorable Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and the perplexing Runner Runner, is now starring in The Dutchess of Malfi at the Globe Theater in London. Lucky for us, Arterton's new project has spawned more than a few choice words about why a career in Hollywood is not all it's cracked up to be, especially for a woman with high creative aspirations. 

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Arterton explains how her fourth theater role was born out of creative necessity, and in doing so, highlights a trap almost anyone could fall into in any creative career: being trapped by the gloriousness of a highly visible job. 

"I never thought I’d be a film actor, but it sort of happened," she says. "I went down that track because I thought I should, and I was travelling the world and it was fun ... Looking back, I think I wasn’t the right fit." And she's right. There is a sense, in the glitzy world of international film-making, that bigger is better. The more you travel and the bigger the movie, the greater your success — if you're very visible, you're supposedly doing it right. But Arterton, who started her international film acting career as a Bond girl (Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace) and moved onto roles in Clash of the Titans and Byzantium, doesn't seem to be interested in being visible as much as she is in being taken seriously.

"I’ve had some bad experiences in Hollywood. I was spoken to by some people like I was a silly little girl or that I should be grateful for anything they were offering me," she says, adding that her demeanor was often deemed "too sexy" in a world where sexiness is preferably "contained." The issues continued when she launched her production company Rebel Park, which she told IndieWire was partially created as a way "to create more opportunities for female directors and female writers." After all, she's experienced first-hand as an actress and a producer, that women are unfortunately still deemed lesser in the film industry. "I think there’s a pre-judgment just because I have boobs," she says in the Telegraph

And while Arterton's production company has yet to deliver a film by which she can prove her preemptive judges wrong — these things take time, after all — her outlook is worth commending on its own. She's disillusioned with the notion that a glitzy career is a good one. She's not preoccupied with ticket sales or the bottom line, according to an interview with Buzzfeed. She's determined to make film a better place for women by confronting its sexist imbalance head on. And she's finding intermediate creative fulfillment in one of the greatest theater communities in the world. 

Sure, she's played the token "hot girl" in a handful of action movies and her name isn't likely to be emblazoned in bold, ostentatious letters at the top of a movie poster any time soon. But she's concerning herself solely with finding work that makes her happy and work that furthers women's roles in film (behind and in front of the camera), making her a rare poster child for riding the career roller coaster a few times before figuring out one's personal definition of success. 

While starlets with large followings may be burdened against their will with the term "role model," Arterton is someone who's actually worth crowning with that title. No twerking or sexual stunts necessary. 


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