HANNAH MURRAY explores greener pastures after portraying Cassie Ainsworth from Skins. From shrooms and weed, she branches out to Westeros and Maine characters—shedding old skin, turning words into flesh, and squeezing a vegetarian diet in between as she breathes life into The Numbers Station and George R. R. Martin and Tim Burton fantasies. Hmm… we smell blood and roses.
STUCK AT HOME SYNDROME
She’s thin. She’s blonde. She says “wow” a lot. It’s been five years since Skins, where Hannah Murray burst onto the scene and into everyone’s wallpapers and Tumblr accounts as pill-popping Cassie. Though playing an anorexic, Hannah embodies the character’s trademark line—“Lovely.” Every Skins fan will probably agree, but if the TV show is a reflection of Bristol’s youth culture and true Brit grit, Hannah is all that and more.
While busy with a flurry of work after Skins (Hannah revealed her acting chops in That Face, Womb, and Chatroom), she was studying English at Cambridge University. Hannah also got a role in HBO’s Game of Thrones as Gilly, the pregnant daughter of Craster. “Nina Gold, Game of Thrones casting director, had cast me in Chatroom so she knew about me,” Hannah recounts. “I just went to audition. I met her and [series creators] David Benioff and Dan Weiss. I read one scene once, and they were like, ‘Okay.’ I left the room not knowing if it had gone really terribly or really well.” Obviously, it’s the latter because David mentioned how Hannah brought a “wonderfully damaged quality” to Gilly—a trait that might just be similar to Cassie’s and her role as a hippie in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. “Tim just made everything very easy,” Hannah says. “He was really encouraging, kind, and gentle. I thought he was enjoying what everyone on set was doing.” Having finished school and being cast for more roles, she officially moved to London to focus on acting.
“I’ve read scripts that have full nudity, loads of violence, full of everything. But when it’s written in a clever way, it really works.”
Noon rises as Hannah preps for our interview in London. I panic on the phone with a friend who’s arriving late to pick her up for the shoot. I imagine Hannah cussing as she waits, instead she greets the team without any pretense—in her shirt, jeans, and tousled hair.
Hannah arrives at the city’s ghetto end, downs a bite of vegetarian pizza, and shares her recent dinner with a bunch of the Skins cast. “We’re all really close. I just love it,” she says. “They’re really special friends. I think, ‘coz we went through that experience together and for most of us, it’s our first job, it will always feel like they’re the people who properly understand what it’s like to have the same memories.”
You could say Hannah’s becoming known for landing on a string of disturbed characters, but that’s what makes her special. “I do not know if I draw the line when it comes to choosing roles. I think I draw the line in terms of what I’d let my parents watch,” Hannah laughs, remembering her intimate scenes in Skins. “I’ve read scripts that have full nudity, loads of violence, full of everything. But when it’s written in a clever way, it really works. So I don’t have a set idea of things I would never do and things I would do,” she says. Hannah believes it’s about trusting the people you work with.
“I still feel a bit awkward watching myself on TV,” she snickers then tells me repeatedly how she used to hate it. “On the second season of Skins, Chris Martin, who directed my episode, was like, ‘You’re being ridiculous. You need to learn how to watch yourself ‘coz it’s really useful for an actor to look at what you’ve done and be able to correct it.’ He would try to show me scenes, and I would run into a corner to hide. I’ve tried to get a bit better at watching myself, and I think of it more as a tool to see what I’ve done… I try to be a little less emotional and neurotic about it.”
Hannah could avoid watching herself as much as she wants, but she can’t really do much about the world watching her. “Oh, God,” Hannah laughs. “When I was doing That Face, a guy was waiting for me outside the exit. He was very sweet. He’d drawn a portrait of me, framed it, and he gave it to me. He put so much effort into it, and it was a very technically good drawing… bBut it didn’t look very much like me. I took it backstage and showed it to the rest of the cast, and they were all like, ‘This really doesn’t look like you’ or ‘I don’t recognize one feature.’ So I felt bad ‘coz the guy tried really hard, and he was a good artist.”
“I try to be a little less emotional and neurotic about watching myself.”
When it comes to image—drawn, photographed or sculpted—Hollywood worships divas who are as fake as their racks, but Hannah keeps it real and keeps everything intensely private (Note: She doesn’t have Twitter. Believe me, I’ve tried stalking. She just doesn’t see why people would want to know her every move). “I always felt a bit weird about having to go to events for a screening of a film or something,” she says. “I’m not very good at the whole dressing up and being glamorous. I get quite nervous in interviews. And when some are very swanky and very sophisticated,” she starts waving her hand like she’s at a red carpet. “I tend to feel a little bit like an outsider.”
Despite her inhibitions, Hannah admits her acting projects incited her interest in people. “Before I started out, I thought I was very much a loner. But when you’re on set or doing a play, you’re around people constantly. You have to think about people all the time. I realized that I love that—being on set, and being in a busy, social environment.”
As for future plans, Hannah is all pajama-ready to read the rest of Game of Thrones while she waits for The Numbers Station, her upcoming movie with John Cusack and Malin Akerman. I ask about a Skins movie. “I think the idea is a seventh season,” she says. The seventh season is a reunion with recurring characters from the past five years. But will Hannah reprise her role as Cassie? She should, unless E4 fancies a riot of fans outside the office building. “One thing I think I’d like to do,” Hannah continues, “Well, I really like singing, but I only ever sing in the privacy of my own bedroom. I don’t ever do it in front of people,” she laughs. “But I really enjoy it; it makes me feel very happy. Maybe if I was forced to do it, I’d be quite interested.” I’m about to force her to sing for the record, but the cab arrives to bring her home.
The sun sets as Hannah leaves Roehampton, but London after dark is still quite bright with young, shiny things—that includes strobe lights, glittery ticker tapes, and Hannah Murray—obviously.
Story by Reena Mesias
Photographed by David Sheldrick
Styled by Chad Burton
Makeup by Chloe Han
I love her with brown hair! I had no idea she was in Dark Shadows. I hope Hannah really break out, she is such a great actress. Cassie still remains one of my favorite Skins character, along with Chris.
What a chameleon, I agree she looks great with brown hair.
More good news, glad her star is rising, I thought she was terrific on Skins. Game of Thrones watchers, how was she this past season?
Hannah Murray Replaces Elle Fanning In 'God Help The Girl'; Emily Browning Joins The Film
It was perhaps inevitable that Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian was going to move into filmmaking. For anyone who has followed the band over the years, you know that each album has usually arrived with an extensive story build around it, with appropriately theatrical artwork to go with it. Well, following a Kickstarter campaign and with the support of "Rushmore" producer Barry Mendel, the pieces all came together this spring for "God Help The Girl" with Elle Fanning and Brit actor Olly Alexander nabbing roles, but it looks like with production set to get underway, some changes have been made.
Bleeding Cool noticed (on the now disabled) site for Troika Talent that "Skins" star Hannah Murray has apparently replaced Elle Fanning -- who is tied up at the moment shooting "Maleficent" -- in the role of Cass and will be featuring alongside Emily Browning. The role of Cass is described to be a girl who recently moved from Glasgow, "or the far south of England (you decide)" as the official site says, so the switch from an American actress to a Brit should be fine. As for Browning, she likely nabbed the part of Eve, whose nationality was left open during casting, so she'll fit quite easily into the film, and having already delivered some her own songs for the "Sucker Punch" soundtrack, she'll have the pipes need for the role that requires the most singing.
The film, said to be inspired by the French New Wave of Truffaut and Godard, the early post-punk movement in music, pop musical movies of the 70's and 80s, and the films of John Hughes, Bruce Robinson and Bill Forsythe, follows James (Alexander), a cynical guitarist who accompanies Eve's singing and becomes a mentor to Cass, a teen who tags alongside the duo as she learns to play the guitar. The movie is based around the album of the same name released in 2009.
Production is set to get underway for three weeks this month, and we presume more official word will be arriving shortly. But the cast looks strong nonetheless, and the music is sure to be great and we're just glad things are continuing to move forward on the project.
That sounds like such a cool movie.... can't wait to see Hannah in the film. And HeatherAnne, I think Hannah played her character on GOT very well. She's not on the show a ton but still, she was good in the role. She has a sweet relationship with one of the other characters, Sam, which is nice to see.
__________________ http://miss-rumphius.tumblr.com/ "It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable." Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery