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I knew film star Scarlett back in her baby-face days -- Leigh Arnold

Leigh Arnold has revealed her unlikely friendship with one of Hollywood's biggest actresses -- none other than Scarlett Johansson.

The Clinic star (30) recalled her early days studying drama at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York where she befriended the actress before she made it big.

"Her older sister Vanessa was in my class, so Scarlett would often be around too," she explained.

"I couldn't believe it, there she was with this little baby face and Vanessa told us she's just finished doing a movie in Tokyo with Bill Murray. She looked about 12!"

The film was Scarlett's breakout role, Lost in Translation.

And the RTE star admitted Scarlett's "vampish" image was very different from the girl next door she knew in her New York days. "Look at her now, quite the sexy, vampish movie star. That's not the Scarlett I was hanging out with only six years ago," she added.

While Scarlett (25) has gone on to become one of the most recognisable names on the planet, Leigh opted to make it big at home, tempted back to star as Dr Clodagh Delaney on The Clinic in 2004.

She has become one of the most recognisable actresses in the country, but since the show was axed, Leigh can't resist the sound of Hollywood calling. Unlike her Clinic co-star Amy Huberman who said she would never leave our shores for LA, Leigh said she had been thinking about a move and if she found a gap in her schedule, she could well be the next Irish export to try her hand at Hollywood.

"I'm working back to back at the moment, otherwise I probably would have gone out there already."

Although she was devastated after learning of the hit programme's cancellation, she said she was now happy with the state broadcaster's decision. "I'm asked constantly about whether it will come back and I always feel quite bad saying I'm not.

"It was upsetting at the time, but when the dust settled, I think we quit while we were ahead. If we had carried on it might have ended up getting far fetched and it would have eventually lost its credibility," she said. "You have to keep getting out there. Too many actors just wait to be discovered, you have to make your own luck and make your own work."

Leigh is now gearing up for her role in My First Time -- a play adapted from an internet forum where tens of thousands have written in posting their anonymous accounts of how they lost their virginity.