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The RCYAL Myles

15 August 2007   |   Written by Siobhan Synnot

Sophia plays an Edinburgh girl with creepy stalkers in Hallam Foe but in real life she’s ‘madly in love’ with Scots Dr Who star

GORGEOUS actress Sophia Myles has revealed she has a new set of admirers joining her fan club since starring in Scots film Hallam Foe.

And she’d rather they kept their distance.

Londoner Sophia is cast as a Scot who is the object of desire of Hallam Foe, played by Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell.

And before the end of the film, he and several other oddballs are stalking her character – something Sophia, 28, relived after the film had a few screenings.

“I have this line in the film, ‘I like creepy men’ and all the boys seem to like it,” she laughed.

“One twitchy guy came up to me and asked, ‘Do you like creepy men?’ I said, ‘No, my character likes creepy men. I like normal, well-adjusted men’.”

Sophia’s well-adjusted other half is, of course, Doctor Who star David Tennant.

The pair met on the set of the BBC series when Sophia played French aristocrat Madame de Pompadour in a bittersweet episode of the series two years ago.

“When my agent called and said I’d been offered Doctor Who I thought, ‘Brilliant, I’m going to meet the Daleks’. But no, I’m in a corset in Versailles,” she said.

“I used to watch Doctor Who when I was a kid, so to be in it is such a privilege. It’s a job you can’t say no to. It’s a bit like being called to jury service – it’s not cool to say no.”

Although the Daleks were not in the picture, love was soon in the air.

The vicar’s daughter had just finished a relationship with Jewel In The Crown actor Charles Dance, 30 years her senior, while David, 36, had parted from actress girlfriend Keira Malik – daughter of Art Malik, who also appeared in the same ITV series as Dance.

The actress, who played Lady Penelope in the big-screen version of Thunderbirds, said she had to hound film-maker David Mackenzie for the part after being impressed by the script, pleading with him to cast her.

And, unfortunately, David was in Wales filming Doctor Who when she finally won her role as the seductive Scot in Hallam Foe.

“I’ve been selective about my roles, but it’s rare to find a well-written role for a woman,” she said. “It’s like finding a diamond, so you have to jump for it. When I read it I was, ‘Yes please I want to do this’ and I wrote a letter to David, which I’ve never ever done before – I’ve never begged anyone for a job but I was so passionate about it. I really wanted to be part of it.”

And after playing a string of period roles, from Madame de Pompadour to the medieval Irish princess of Tristan and Isolde, the idea of playing a modern girl for achange was another reason Sophia pushed David for the part.

“I’ve spent a lot of my career playing characters in period costumes, so I’ve been wearing a lot of crinolines. Coming on set in jeans was like doing a film in my pyjamas,” she laughed.

The film wasn’t without its challenges for the Kate Winslet lookalike. First of all, she had to conquer her fears of heights for a rooftop scene.

“Pretending to be scared didn’t involve much acting,” she said frankly. “I was genuinely terrified.

“And I couldn’t help noticing that they’d left all the dangerous stuff until the very end – because there’s always the possibility that the actor might die.”

For Hallam Foe, Sophia also had to find a Scottish accent and Jo Brown, who played Moira Henderson in River City, was her coach. And, although she was nervous about carrying off the sound of a posh Edinburgh babe, she was also thrilled at the chance to stretch her range of brogues.

“My favourite part is taking on an accent,” she said. “When I was a kid, my brother and I used to mimic people.”

But boyfriend David, who has a west coast accent, was no help when she was practising her burr, as her character is an east coast personnel boss of a hotel closely modelled on Edinburgh’s Balmoral.

“I think the biggest help was living in Scotland when we were filming,” she admitted. “Hearing the accents every day means you tune in and that made it easier.”

But while the blonde star manages to conquer a convincing accent, she also had to do some nudity – something she has always refused to do in the past.

To the point of insisting on a no-nudity clause in her contract for the historical epic Tristan and Isolde.

She admits shooting erotic love scenes with Jamie, 21, proved to be a tad embarrassing, but surprisingly she said it wasn’t nearly as embarrassing as having to dance in front of him beforehand.

“I actually lost sleep over that one. I was more worried about that than the rest of the film because I don’t have much confidence when it comes to breaking out moves,” said Sophia.

“I have two left feet and the pressure of having to dance on my own in front of the boy who danced as Billy Elliot was absolutely terrifying.

“The idea of having to do it on celluloid was far more taxing than the sex scenes.

“I have to say, though, that Jamie Bell’s naked bottom is pretty impressive.”

But although they struck sparks on screen, it sounds as if Sophia and Jamie, who is seven years younger, were more like brother and sister on set.

“I fell in love with his performance in Billy Elliot and the fact he was in this film was important to me,” smiled the actress. “We ended up having a good time because we have a similar sense of humour.”

Sophia got into acting by accident after being spotted by a British casting director at the age of 16 in a school play and was then offered a small role in a TV production of The Prince And The Pauper.

During her A-levels, she appeared on TV in Fay Weldon’s Big Woman and turned down a place studying philosophy at Cambridge in favour of an acting career.

Next, she’s off to the US to film a new Joel Silver TV series about vampires called Moonlight. It’s a very different take on the old vampire lore, where Sophia gets mixed up with a very modern bloodsucker who can go out during the day and helps her to solve murders.

Sophia has already made quite a name for herself in the US. She shared a bed with heart-throb Johnny Depp in his Jack The Ripper thriller From Hell and next year releases the all-action Viking adventure Outlander. And her new job means that, if the series takes off, Sophia could be out of the UK for seven years. Yet she leapt at the chance, despite the fact it puts her at the other side of the Atlantic from boyfriend David.

“There’s hardly any work here,” said Sophia, who was waiting, bags packed, for her work visa to arrive when we spoke.

“And I didn’t even have to audition for my role. Joel Silver called me up, said he’d seen my work and was very impressed, then invited me to join the show.”

But even though it means living apart from her boyfriend, she will at least be sleeping with a model while they are apart.

Sophia has a Doctor Who action figure of David and, when he’s not around, she takes it to bed with her.

“I’m still pretty excited my boyfriend has an action doll,” said Sophia, who seems confident they will cope with along-distance relationship.

“I am stupidly in love,” she added. “And it’s all brilliant.”

Hallam Foe premieres at the Edinburgh Film Festival tonight.