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March 2014 / People / by Liz Skone James

Living The London Dream

Pictures: Ram Shergill

With a new series of Da vinci’s demons scheduled soon, Laura Haddock’s star is in the ascendant, but when LA comes knocking, she has a hard time leaving London behind…

She may have dreamt about acting since watching Pollyanna when she was tiny, but when work takes Laura Haddock away, she can’t help missing her favourite city. “I really mourn London. I daydream about what I’ll do when I get back,” she muses. It’s a small sacrifice, though, if it means she’s doing the job she loves. A job which, she believes, has the power to change your life: “you could get a phone call at any moment, saying, ‘we’d love you to play this part,’ and it could be your dream part,” she enthuses.

Right now, that role is as Lucrezia Donati in David Goyer’s steamy Renaissance fantasy, Da Vinci’s Demons. So was she star struck upon being approached by Goyer, he of Batman fame? Not so much, she admits, but perhaps because she didn’t really know a great deal about him; it took male friends, and husband (fellow thespian and Hunger Games heartthrob Sam Claflin), to persuade her that the director was actually something of a genius. With two series of the show now under their belts, Laura describes David as a good friend and confidant. “He’s so brilliant, and so ambitious, still, even though he has already achieved so much. So, yeah, a very inspiring person to be around.”

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There’s been talk of a third series, but as yet no official confirmation, so in the meantime Laura is enjoying a break from the hours spent driving up and down the M4 – much of the filming took place in Swansea, because, somewhat surprisingly, on a sunny day, “Wales’ beautiful castles, quarries and beaches are uncannily like Italy.” 

Sadly sunny days have been a rarity of late, so a holiday is definitely on the cards. But timings can be tricky with the unpredictability of not one, but two acting careers to take into account: “hubby and I have to look at schedules,” Laura explains. Until they manage to find that magical window, the newlyweds make the most of what time they do have together. “We keep our heads down. We stay in and have friends over. When Sam is in town we host lots of games nights and dinners – we don’t go out too much.”

After a “mental year” in 2013, her schedule is certainly still looking busy. Da Vinci’s Demons is set to air early next month, and the summer will see Laura star in the hugely anticipated new Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy, alongside Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. Also screening this summer is a London-based project called SuperBob, something the actress is hugely excited about. “It’s by a great friend of mine, Brett Goldstein – we’ve done a few things together now. It’s a little film about an exhausted superhero named Bob, who just really needs a day off. It’s all set in London. It’s just very sweet, very honest, very funny. It’s quirky.”

And SuperBob isn’t alone, Laura believes that it’s currently a really great, boundary-breaking time for screen and stage in Britain. “There’s lots of work being done at the moment – on film and TV, and in theatre – that I think is really, really exciting. One of the best things I saw recently was a five man play called Mojo that’s just come to an end in town, with Ben Wishaw and Rupert Grint. It was so fun, it looked like they had a whale of a time – absolutely incredible. You just have to look at the award nominations to see just how exciting the industry is. I think it’s great. I’d never turn down the opportunity to work in Hollywood, but I love it in London.” 

So given the choice, would she opt for stage or screen? It’s a tricky question: “both are brilliant and exciting,” she says, “so it’s really good to have a balance and do a bit of both – if you’re lucky enough!” she concludes. But having been working largely on television and film projects recently, she is keen to find a short running theatre project. “The West End will always have that romance and buzz about it. There’s something really special about theatre in this country, and I hope it never goes away. It’s what makes the acting scene in England, and London particularly, quite unique – when you’re in the West End you feel like you are part of a big old acting family.”

After making it big in coming of age flick The Inbetweeners Movie, Laura dyed her blonde hair brunette and lopped it off in an attempt to avoid not just typecasting, but recognition. But the more roles she takes on, the harder it is for her to go unnoticed here in the Capital, particularly since marrying Sam. While Londoners are a bit more respectful – happy to walk on by – holidaymakers can be a whole different matter. “They don’t care; they’ll just come up to you and chat. En masse it can be a bit scary. That said it’s really great when people are positive about something that you’re in, and they take the time to come over and say hello, and to let you know that they liked your performance.”

So how would the actress spend her perfect, uninterrupted day off in London? At the moment she’s “diving into” discovering markets. “I’d pop out with my dog Rosie and explore Portobello Road, wander around Notting Hill. I go to Borough Market quite a lot. I think it just has the most amazing fresh fruit and veg. The vibe there is fantastic – I actually want to live there!” In fact, food is one of the things that most excites her about London. “Recently I’ve discovered this amazing girl, she has a blog called Deliciously Ella, and she adores cooking, and is incredible at it. She’s a Londoner, and puts up some really inspiring stuff about restaurants to go to, and going and buying organic foods at the different markets. She’s my new girly cooking crush,” she laughs.

Right now, Laura is off to whip up a batch of Ella’s “insanely good” sweet potato brownies, with date, ground almond and cacao, but what does the long term hold? Well, there’s no fear of her giving up acting, for her this is “a forever job.” She’s looking for a really strong role, something that she’ll read, and think, “oh yeah, this is going to be good.” So is there anything in the pipeline? She thinks for a moment, then declares, “I’ve read a couple of things that have made me think that. I’m probably not allowed to say what though – so watch this space.” 

Da Vinci’s Demons season 2 starts 4April at 10pmon FOX