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In conversation with



by Emma Ratnavel
photography | Stuart Armitt | Jan Versweyveld

From a young age, Phoebe Fox was on the trajectory to becoming an actor, “My parents are actors. Not of the Fox dynasty; we’re starting our rival dynasty.” Although she points out that her journey to becoming successful was certainly a humble one; educated at a London state school with an average drama department, Fox says none of her peers were interested in becoming actors and she feels her own ambition stemmed from watching her parents’ careers. She laughs when I tell her that despite my research, Phoebe Fox pre-RADA is somewhat of a mystery. “I did a lot of extracurricular drama stuff, was too shy to go to National Youth Theatre though. It took me three years to get into drama school and in the meantime I went travelling and grew up and did all that normal, life stuff.”

Since then Fox has gone on to appear opposite Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic. She exposes what it was like in rehearsal, “Mark and I were basically up first. We were standing about five feet away from each other, saying our lines and the director eventually said…” (adopting a Belgian accent as best she can) “No no no no, stop. This is a very sensual relationship; you should be touching him, running your fingers through his chest hair. Start again.” Fox needed a few moments behind stage to collect her thoughts, before throwing herself into the scene. “I went really extreme and I came out and I jumped on him and that sort of bore the rest of our relationship! And that stayed in the show.”


“I think it’s quite unusual to find parts in the ingénue which are actually interesting.” She uses Shakespeare’s Ophelia as an example, “you’re there to further Hamlet’s story but Catherine is within her own right, you get to do all the big emotions. I’d never heard of the director, Ivo van Hove, but then when I looked him up I then wanted the job really bad. To me doing a classic play where you sort of tear up the rule book is brilliant really.”


Fox has some pragmatic advice for young actresses, “Feminism means to me wanting to be treated as an equal, wanting the rules to be the same for everyone. I’m definitely a feminist, for absolute sure.” However she goes on to say that, although it isn’t right, aspiring female actresses should be aware that they are not yet seen to be equal to their male counterparts and in order to keep going in the industry, they need to accept the way things are right now.


“There’s definitely a pressure with playing a role that’s been done a lot and the worst thing you can do is look at who has played the role before you. Maybe this is slightly to my detriment but I try and find something new and alter it from a different angle, at least try to give my own version of the character.” Fox reveals that there’s a different kind of struggle when making a role her own through new writing, “it’s so joyful to start a character but it does make you quite possessive. I did a play called The Acid Test and a couple of years after we did it someone said “You know they’re doing it at RADA in the third year, are you going to see it?” and I was like “No! I don’t want to see somebody else do it, especially not if they’re good!”


Having just finished filming Eye in the Sky, starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and Oscar winner Helen Mirren, Fox is keen to tell me about her role in the film, “It’s about a drone attack in Nairobi, it’s the lead up to that attack and you’ve got the chain of command. Aaron and I play the people who actually operate the drone; so he’s the pilot and I’m the Sensor Operator whose job it is to operate the camera and once the missile’s been fired it’s my job to guide the missile to its target.”


After being flown to South Africa for filming Eye in the Sky, Fox divulges that now she’s had a taste, more work abroad is definitely something she’d like to pursue. “I mean, I want to do it all but I want to keep doing theatre as well. I think people get teased away from it; they see the bright lights of Hollywood and never come back. I don’t think I’ll ever do that. My aim is to always keep a firm foot in theatre, I think that’s where you progress and it’s my life form, this is where I get the real joy from doing the job.” 




This article first appeared in the New Wave issue of Auditorium 

Phoebe Fox's portraits photographed exclusively for ©Audiorium by Stuart Armitt

production photos of A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic by ©Jan Versweyveld




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