Anna Brewster's

Liya Kebede
Laura Harrier
Jemima Kirke
Caroline de Maigret
Sabine Getty

Speaking on the phone from Los Angeles, Anna Brewster is talking corsets. Not the duchesse-satin kind a bride might wear on her wedding night, but the excruciatingly tight, custom-made sort that she’s sewn into to play Madame de Montespan in BBC 2’s hit period drama, Versailles. “Wearing a corset is both torture and a great way to get into character,” she says. Initially a hellish experience, Brewster “eventually got used to wearing one and learned to work with it.” By the end of shooting the show’s first season, she’d figured out a way to eat lunch and take a nap with her waist constricted.

The television show’s raunchy plot, eye-watering £24 million pound budget, and beguiling cast made headlines when it first aired in 2016, propelling Brewster, who turned 32 in January, to a new height of stardom. Yet the recent role is just one of many in a long list of dazzling accomplishments. In the early 2000s, she made her teen screen debut in British comedy-drama, Anita and Me. Three years later, she cut her teeth alongside Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins in Mrs Henderson Presents. Around 2007, she landed a modeling contract and started appearing in glossy magazines like Vogue Italia and Dazed & Confused. Hollywood came calling in 2015 with the part of Bazine Natel, a spy in the first installment of the latest Star Wars trilogy.

Today, Brewster lives in Paris and switches back and forth between the two career pursuits. Thankfully, she says, the industry hangup that used to exist about models becoming actresses and vice versa is no longer an issue. “If you have what it takes to act, you will be successful,” she says simply. The key to successfully straddling two careers “comes down to how good you are at excelling in both disciplines.” Like fellow It-Brit talents Cara Delevingne and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Brewster appears to have nailed the formula effortlessly.

Operating out of Paris comes with its perks. For one, it’s brought Anna closer to the lavish splendor of the actual Palace of Versailles and countless other opulent chateaus that serve as the backdrop to the namesake television series. Life in the French capital has also allowed her to develop special relationships with certain fashion houses, Chanel in particular. The iconic couturier gave the actress carte blanche to raid the rails of its Rue Cambon boutique ahead of its Spring 2018 runway show at the Grand Palais last autumn. Brewster playfully describes herself as “neo-parisian” and her style is what you might expect of a Chanel-affiliated beauty. Read: classic with a crystal glint and the flutter of a red lip.

The future excites Anna. Buoyed by the success of Versailles, she’d like to land another TV series should the right script come her way soon. Working alongside the same actors day-in-day-out “you become incredibly close and develop these wonderful relationships with the cast and crew,” she reflects on the experience. Another ambition: search out more independent movies and one-off ventures, like this week’s Semaine short with Bahraini filmmaker, Hala Matar. The opportunity to pick projects with people who have “real vision,” says Brewster, is wonderful and inspiring. “With Hala, you enter into another world and start to see things from her perspective,” she enthuses.

The short film, titled L’Ariel, explores the struggles of a young actress desperate to make it in the movie industry. Brewster’s co-star, Karl Glusman (of Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals and Gaspar Noe’s Love fame), embodies a volatile director on the brink of a crisis. Unlike the two characters, Anna has her own methods for safe-guarding her sanity against the common pitfalls of show business: “I pinch myself everyday when I look back at the things I’ve done,” she says before hanging up the phone. “I’ve been so lucky, I don’t take anything for granted."

By Elsa de Berker for Semaine.

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Get the look

Get the look

Garde-robe

If you couldn’t tell by the copious amounts of coloured tweed and well, just the overall chicness in this Get the Look section, Anna is a long time friend of the Chanel brand and judging by this story, we wish we were too... “I had my 31st Birthday in Coco Chanel’s apartment, I went for a cocktail and I was just sitting on the sofa and they brought me a cake and the all sang happy birthday and it was pretty cool…”

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Essentials

Essentials

On (and off) screen essentials

Being an actress can always be difficult, so it’s important to make sure you have the perfect necessities to see you through. Anna’s selection is perfect for you, even if you have no dramatical endeavours.

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Beauty

Beauty

The top shelf

What beauty items help give Anna her on (and off) screen glow? Find the ultimate guide to the glow, below…

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Questionnaire

Questionnaire

Quickfire Questionnaire

Semaine is all about giving you the option to learn a little more about the week’s tastemaker… Which is why we love a good quickfire round of questions… Where else would you learn about Anna’s ex-boyfriend giving her the nickname ‘Penguin’ against her will.

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOURSELF CRY ON CUE?

I can either do it or I can’t and it’s really fucking annoying when I can’t do it!! To be honest when you’re on set you can summon it for one take but then you’re just like, tear stick!

WHOSE FILMS WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE STARRED IN, KUBRICK OR GODARD?

Godard.

WHY IS THIS?

I think Kubrick was probably a nightmare...

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU GOOGLED?

I don’t even know… I think I actually google the name of the other actress I’m up against tomorrow...

WHAT'S THE HARDEST LINE YOU'VE EVER HAD TO SAY ON CAMERA?

Do you know what, the hardest thing to say is “What” it’s really hard, you always have to say it and finding ways to say it, it’s like a question, it’s really annoying.

DO YOU HAVE A GOOD LUCK CHARM?

No, I don’t actually, I’m not really into all that stuff...

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE QUALITIES IN A FRIEND?

Someone who doesn’t judge, just someone who’s really supportive.

WHO IS YOUR HERO?

My Dad.

WHAT IS IT THAT MOST DRAWS YOU TO A SCRIPT?

A strong woman, a real journey and honesty, I think honesty is the main thing.

DID YOU HAVE A NICKNAME GROWING UP?

Yes, my first ever boyfriend called me Penguin, I used to do ballet so I used to always stand in first position, and he called me Penguin. It was really mean… So not nice!

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Playlist

Playlist

Soundtracks

Anna’s favorite assortment of tracks is as eclectic as you’d imagine… “It varies from really good music to really pop quite embarrassing music. The last song I downloaded was P!nk - “What about us?”...It’s undeniably a tune.”

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Travel

Travel

Part-Parisian

“Paris is beautiful. It has its hard times but after 10 years in London everything seems to make a bit more sense there…” See the sights that Anna recommends on your next trip to the city of light, and even pass by Le Bristol, where the film ‘Ariel’ was shot.

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Au revoir!

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