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The magnificent seven

11 February 2007   |   Written by Niche Lilia Diu & Kate Salter

They’re the new generation of British actresses – and we think they’re going to be BIG. But just remember who introduced you to these starlets-in-the-making …

It’s a beautiful January morning in Mayfair when seven of Britain’s hottest young actresses arrive for the Stella shoot. In a matter of minutes the room in buzzing with the snap of stilettos, the purr of hairdryers and excited debate over make-up styles and the merits of Manolos.

These girls are the next generation of British women in film and – thanks to the success of Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet – everyone no knows that’s a class to be reckoned with. Today, dreams of following in the footsteps of this remarkable trio are wistfully aired, and these seven may well stand a chance. Sophia Myles looks pure Hollywood as she poses, siren-like, for the camera; Jaime Winstone and Claire-Hope Ashley are still flushed with the thrill of their films’ BIFA and Oscar nominations. And next year’s projects are already underway. Turn the page to meet seven girls you should definitely know about.

Sophia Myles, 26: The English Rose

She’s the vicar’s daughter who went from being spotted in a school play to sharing a bed with Johnny Depp in barely three years. Her first lead role, in a BBC production of Nicholas Nickleby, gave rise to a much-publicised affair with Charles Dance, and was quickly followed by turns in Underworld and Underworld: Evolution, with Kate Beckinsale, and as Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds.

But 2006 proved to be the breakthrough year for her. Myles went straight from a title role in Tristan & Isolde to Art School Confidential where she found herself on set with Anjelica Huston and John Malkovich. It was also the first time she consented to nudity – and she promptly put on weight for the occasion. “I wanted to be on screen looking like a normal girl” she says. See more of her in Hallam Foe and Outlander, both of which are out this year.

Dream dress: A cream-coloured, Grecian-goddess dress
Dream dinner: Eggs benedict and a glass of champagne at the Four Seasons in Prague
Favourite film: The Neverending Story