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A date with dynasty for acting royalty, Daisy Bevan


Daisy arriving for the 2013 British Fashion Awards in December

Daisy arriving for the 2013 British Fashion Awards in December

Daisy Bevan

Daisy Bevan

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave

Daisy Devan, Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave


Daisy arriving for the 2013 British Fashion Awards in December

Daisy Bevan can't quite decide if her family name will be an advantage or disadvantage to her career. A fourth generation Redgrave, she offers an endearing, somewhat juvenile, wisdom on the shadow of her legacy.

"I know I'll never get work because of my family name. For example, the whole of last year, I was auditioning a lot and I didn't get anything. And I knew I would only get a part if I was right for it, regardless of my family or my name, no one would ever give me a role because of where I come from.

"The way I look at it," she adds, "if there is a family-run grocer or generations in one family of lawyers or teachers, they'll face the same kind of pressure.

"I feel incredibly lucky and excited to be doing what I want to be doing. I'm just so grateful."

Lucky, excited and grateful. Three words the 22-year-old aggravatingly leans on throughout our chat, a comforting, reassuring mantra. They reappear on cue when the nerves kick in, when faced with a question she doesn't quite know how to answer or confronted with accusations of nepotism. It's going to happen again and again. Hopefully she'll learn to deviate from the script.

A mystifying mirror image of her mother, actress Joely Richardson, Daisy shares the same intense blues and willowy poise. This regality and structure was in turn inherited from grandmother, Vanessa Redgrave. Luckily for the newcomer, a bounce of dark brown curls offers some form of individual identity among a lineage of golden tresses. It frames and accentuates the family features. Like a black sheep, as it were.

Enchanted by the bright lights of the industry from her earliest memory, Bevan grew up on film sets, sitting on her mother's lap in the make-up chair. She was oft rewarded with little walk-on roles, from 'Elizabeth' (produced by her father, Tim Bevan's production company, Working Title, home of 'Four Weddings' and 'Love Actually') and playing a young Joely in French revolution epic, 'The Affair of the Necklace'.

And while her parents, who split when she was five, were keenly aware of their young daughter's ambitions, they forbade any pursuit till she graduated from the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in Manhattan.

"They were both really firm and in retrospect, I'm glad they were. It was always said to me, 'Finish school and preferably some studies and then you can do what you want afterwards'. You can't argue with that."

Now the lithe beauty is reaping the rewards of this dutiful compliance with her first significant film role in sumptuous noir drama, 'The Two Faces of January', a tale of intrigue and deception set against the crumbling façade of Athen's ancient Acropolis. A credible debut, she plays Lauren, a naïve American heiress smitten by Oscar Isaac's shifty con artist who introduces her to a charming yet morally questionable couple (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst).

A pivotal first encounter across a dinner table between all four leads calls on Bevan's best laid interpretation of wide-eyed awe and disbelief.

According to the actress, there was little acting involved. "For my first film it was a pinch yourself moment," she explains in clipped, chipper tones. "The whole process was a pinch yourself moment. Sitting across from Oscar and Viggo and Kis and realising you're part of this ensemble is hugely overwhelming.

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"It was surreal, like stepping out of your body. And we were in Istanbul and Athens, it was all so heightened and so surreal, and so exciting."

She obviously grew close to Kirsten Dunst, referring to the reportedly tetchy film star with a cute nickname, 'Kis'.

Daisy pauses to respond. Her voice quivers with panic. "I ... I don't know if that's her nickname," followed by an awkward titter. "Did I say that?"

She coughs and laughs a little too loud again and continues to effusively offer why the film was 'exciting' and 'surreal.' It's oddly uncomfortable.

Bevan finishes her sentences too quickly. Twenty words per question seem to suffice. She's genial, so I chalk it down to giddish nerves. Or the result of media training from her mother and particularly, her grandmother, who so often comes across rather guarded in interviews.

Has she, perhaps, received a wealth of advice doled out by the insightful members of her family?

"They are constantly giving great advice but I don't have one or two absolutes. I don't really have any pearls of wisdom to pass on because there's been so much."

Daisy can't recall one or two pieces of counsel. Or simply doesn't want to?

"Well there aren't really rules with acting. Whatever works for you! And you never stop learning about it or discovering new things. That's the thing about acting – there aren't really any rules."

"I guess," she relents, "what they did tell me was just to keep your feet on the ground as much as possible; have a sense of self and try to not let the exterior world of it get to you. And be firm in your beliefs about it. I think that's a really solid thing."

Has Uncle Liam Neeson, married to her sadly departed aunt, Natasha, who was killed in a freak ski accident in 2009, given his take on her fledgling steps towards Hollywood?

"Again like ... I don't ... he," Daisy splutters, "I'm just incredibly lucky my family is so supportive and constantly giving so much advice. I saw [Liam] and my cousin lots when I was living in New York but I don't really have these little phrases that will stay with me forever because they always have been so supportive and given such great advice."

Always in a courteous timbre, it's still difficult to figure whether she's utterly ill-equipped for press interviews, or prematurely prickly towards enquiries about her fascinating dynasty?

I test the waters by asking whether the new actress was perturbed by the current marketing campaign in place for the recent West End theatre production, 'Dorian Gray'. Paired alongside Jack Fox, himself a descendant of the venerable clan sired by greats, Edward and James, the advertising poster proclaimed: 'This spring, two theatrical families team up ... '

"I think it was inevitable that there was going to be that spin," she says. "But you can't, as hard as it is and easier said than done, you can't let that kind of thing engulf everything and you have to stay true to your excitement of it and how lucky you are to have work as an actor. And try to stay true to the roots of why you're doing it and not to get phased by anything else."

Still living with Joely in West London, there's a boyfriend; a fellow creative whom Bevan predictably won't go into detail about. And there are future work commitments that she inexplicably won't go into detail about.

"Nothing concrete as yet but hopefully something will come up soon," she replies.

Isn't there a romantic drama with former 'Eastenders' actor, Ray Panthaki, called 'Nothing Like This' released later this year?

"Oh yes! It's an independent romantic comedy. And again I play an American, which is a lot of fun. It's quite weird coming back to London and the work I get is American. But I'm not complaining."

To conclude an incongruously awkward interview, I ask Daisy – who certainly boasts the skills and outward beauty for a successful career, but may still need a little tune-up when it comes to promotional duties – does she hanker after a project that will bring all three generations of her family together?

"Oh, I would love to! If the right thing came along, it would be an amazing experience and hopefully something we can work towards further down the line. Right now, I just want to see where this journey takes me.

"And I'm excited and lucky and feel grateful for what's to come."

  • 'The Two Faces of January' is in cinemas now

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