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She is keen to keep her private life out of the spotlight.
But with a starring role in the hotly anticipated revival of Upstairs, Downstairs and a US premiere on the way, can Claire Foy avoid getting the Keira and Sienna treatment? It’s midday in the ground-floor café at the National Theatre and she is eating a slice of lemon drizzle cake so big that it’s a wonder the fragile beauty – brilliantly cast in the leading role of the BBC’s award-winning adaptation of Little Dorrit – has the strength to lift it.
Not because I am trying to protect my identity or anything like that, but because this interview is about my acting not my private life.
We might be seen out somewhere and it will come out, but I am not going to say.
The youngest of three children – her sister Gemma is 31 and her brother Robert is 28 – Claire was born in Stockport and spent her early childhood in the Northwest.
When she was eight her parents – her father David is a sales consultant and her mother Caroline works for a pharmaceutical company – divorced and she moved to Buckinghamshire with her mother, her brother and her sister.
Fears that the hugely popular Downton Abbey – which was rather like an Edwardian country house version of the original series – might steal the thunder of the revived Upstairs, Downstairs are, Claire insists, unfounded.‘They are very different.
There is such an obsession about looks in Hollywood.
Between mouthfuls, the 26-year-old actress explains that she has just finished an audition that had made her so nervous she had skipped breakfast.
‘I really want the part so I can’t possibly tell you what it is because then I know I won’t get it.
Could it be Richard Coyle, her co-star in Going Postal (‘No, he’s happily married with a baby’), or Stephen Campbell Moore from Season of the Witch, or even Christian Cooke, whom she worked with on The Promise (no comment to either)? ” and I said, “Oh, I will get out of the way.”’In her charmed working life since leaving drama school (her four best female friends have not had the same luck but remain ‘fantastically supportive’ of her success), she has been privileged to work with some amazing actors.
‘My secret boyfriend Mr X will find that really funny. Claire pulls a face when I ask what she is planning on wearing to the premiere of Season of the Witch. I have been to a couple of red‑carpet events and had my picture taken, but no one knew who I was – someone had to say, “This is Claire Foy.” One time I was standing there and Katy Perry came up behind me and suddenly the photographers went from saying, “Claire who? Tom Courtenay is a particular favourite, as are Matthew Macfadyen and his wife Keeley Hawes (‘the best couple ever’), and she has huge admiration for their refusal to become ‘celebrities’.
A born show-off (and, she says, the least academic of the three siblings), she took drama and film studies at Liverpool John Moores University, then opted for a postgraduate course at the Oxford School of Drama.