THE RED QUEEN: A SIT-DOWN WITH EMMA RIGBY

English rose Emma Rigby is as beautiful as she is smart. The British import is ready to make her mark on a town that takes no prisoners. Rigby has brought her talents for taking on complex roles to Hollywood. With a starring role as the ruthless “Red Queen” on ABC’s anticipated Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a spin-off of the fantasy series Once Upon A Time, we caught up with this dynamic artist to find out more.

BRITISH IMPORT: EMMA RIGBY

THE RIGBY FILES

HOME SWEET HOME: Wherever there is love, my ‘un weekend a Paris’ candle, a yerba -matte -tea, some sort of animal onesie, the -complete Alan Partridge Series and a copy of A Street Car Named -Desire.

DESIGNER CRUSH: Since I was in nappies, I have long wanted to be the face of Dior or Chanel. I used to practice saying the last line of each advert in French. Still today, you can’t really go wrong with these two houses.

BEST FASHION FIND: I adore Gucci evening gowns and I bought one last year— it is divine!

IF I COULD RAID ANYONE’S CLOSET, IT WOULD BE… Sharon Stone’s “Ginger,” in Casino.

TOP 3 -BEAUTY SECRETS… Water, sleep and laughter.

LATEST OBSESSION: Orcas…FREE TILIKUM! Watching the documentary BlackFish will elucidate.

THE GREAT ESCAPE: South Africa.

FIRST -AUDITION: My first -audition was an Ethel Austin’s commercial/campaign. Needless to say, it
has since gone into administration— I decided to perform a Grade 3 Modern routine for the casting director. I got the job.

BEST ON-SET SHENANIGANS: On set, I become incredibly serious when actually working, although due to natural goofiness I also manage to amuse most people with my general demeanor. I always like to make people laugh. It is my dream to be here, where I am and acting, so I might as well love every minute of it. I have one terribly embarrassing story, which would typically happen to me (yes I have so many), I will save that for a later date though.

THE INFLUENCER: Marion Cotillard and Daniel Day-Lewis— they are exquisite in every possible way. I respect them both so highly for their talent, hard work and ultimate class. They act! They believe!

DREAM DINNER GUEST: Marilyn Monroe, so we could recreate scenes from Some Like It Hot.

SATURDAY NIGHT, I’D FIND YOU… Watching a European film in one of my -silk -robes.

WORDS TO LIVE BY: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”–Mahatma Gandhi. I’m inspired by all his teachings, his accomplishments and life.

EMMA RIGBY AS ‘THE RED QUEEN’ ((ABC/Bob D’Amico)

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: What was growing up across the pond as they say, like for you?

EMMA RIGBY: Culturally, I think the United Kingdom and the U.S. are completely different. We both speak the same language and are highly westernized societies, yet there are stark contrasts on so many levels. For me, I grew up with very little (knowing never to ask for anything) other than my incredibly dedicated mother, who taught me morals and hard work embedded with love and laughter. Faith was a huge part of my upbringing and still is. My life across the pond was always about music, films, dancing, performing, watching ballets, trying to make people smile, and learning.

HM: Was performing always the dream?

ER: Absolutely. My manager always says, ‘You were doing this even in the womb!’ I walked at eight months and have not stopped since. From three years-old, I used to impersonate people and would watch old musicals repeatedly, performing each one for my Nana who encouraged me tirelessly each day. She used to call me “Luscious Lips” and said, ‘One day, you’ll be a star’. I still have so much hard work to do before then, but for me, performing is my life… acting is what I live for.

HM: What has the transition been like for you, playing in the Hollywood whirlpool?

ER: I am incredibly fortunate that I came over to Hollywood after finishing a British film at the beginning of the year. I was very lucky with booking my first two American jobs and so I began working on them right away. So I feel like I have not yet entered the Hollywood whirlpool but with this industry, wherever you are in the world, it is about hard work and dedication— and that never ends no matter how successful you become. For me, I have so much more to do and I am fiercely determined and devoted to fulfilling my dreams. After I complete filming the show in February, I would love to live in LA. I am not sure I’d survive the whirlpool, but I would be good at the hot yoga [laughs]!

HM: Let’s talk about your new role on ABC’s Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, based on the novel Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Firstly, how would you describe the ABC adaptation of the famous fable?

ER: What ABC and the creators of Once Upon A Time In Wonderland do spectacularly is put on a real show. This adaptation is accessible to all and enables the famous fable to really come to life. It is a visceral and visual modern approach to the classic with some adult storytelling.

HM: Tell me about your character, the Red Queen. She’s a bit of a nasty piece of work…

ER: In the traditional novel, Through The Looking Glass, the Red Queen’s character is a form of controlled fury— she is almost like a governess in manner… meticulous to the nth degree. In the ABC
adaptation, the Red Queen is a variant on that character with, what I would say, a lot more grandeur. One thing is for sure, she definitely has the best wardrobe! As every Queen should.

HM: What was your approach to playing her?

ER: With the Red Queen, my approach is to simply have fun and be ever so slightly fabulous. I want to bring humor and sparkle to the show. I want to entertain the audience and for them to hopefully enjoy me. I am not taking myself too seriously. The Red Queen oozes casual menace whilst behaving like a movie star from back in a different era. For me, getting to play dress up every day and being the real life version of a Disney animation is pretty awesome.

HM: You are one busy lady! You just wrapped the Shana Feste film, Endless Love, alongside Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde. It’s a Romeo and Juliet themed story about forbidden love. Tell me about it and the character you play.

ER: My character, Jenny, was not in the original Endless Love film. In Shana Feste’s Endless Love, Jenny is David’s (Alex Pettyfer) ex-girlfriend who cheated on him and still feels like she has ownership over him, even after being with her on and off boyfriend for so many years. When Jade appears in
David’s life, Jenny is hurt and jealous. Throughout the film, there is great rivalry between Jenny and Jade. It isn’t really difficult to be jealous of Gabriella— you only need to look at her legs for a starting point!

I had to dye my hair and become a brunette for this film due to both me and Gabriella looking similar. So again, I look quite different in this film— I am tanned and have gone to the dark side for this role. It is wonderful to get the opportunity to change my appearance and play an American in my work.

HM: You also star in Philipp Stölzl’s The Physician, a German drama set in the 11th century, based on Noah Gordon’s novel by the same name, also starring Ben Kingsley, Stellan Skarsgard and Tom Payne. Not bad company to be in! Tell me about the film and about your role.

ER: This film is special to me because it is my first leading role in a film and I had to really become the
character in this role. It is a period piece and quite epic. I play a very young Spanish Jew who is being transported across the desert to be married to a wealthy elder in Isfahan. On the way, I fall in love with the central character and become a part of his personal journey throughout the film. The story is a
hugely popular and loved novel in Europe and I feel like the film will have an unusual tone and innocence.

The role enabled me to experience very different emotions and actions, reacting to much more basic and raw surroundings. I made a dear friend in Sir Ben and often speak to him for guidance— he is such a knowledgeable and exceedingly talented man, and I feel so fortunate to have met and worked with him. I had been a fan of his growing up.

HM: You also cameo in the highly anticipated The Counselor, starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz. What was that experience like?

ER: Yes, I am an enormous geek for saying this, but that was the best day of my life! Ironically, I will probably be cut out of the film as it is the tiniest of cameos. But it is certainly one brilliant script. I play a gangster’s girlfriend from Miami and was spray tanned, wearing a hair piece and the tiniest leopard print dress. It is a very funny little part. I got to do a scene with Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and Toby Kebbell. The whole day, I could not stop smiling!

One of my favorite films is Jamon, so working with Penelope Cruz was very exciting. She is just as majestical in real life and such a beautiful, smart woman. Michael Fassbender was absolutely
brilliant to work with. He was captivating in Hunger and I greatly respect him as an actor who has worked incredibly hard for years to ascertain his now widely respected status. He was the nicest man and so kind to me— he said I reminded him of a really young Ellen Barkin (it must have been my chiseled jaw!). As for Ridley Scott, it was such a joy and honor— he is so calm, precise and a true master. I am surprised I wasn’t escorted off the set for loitering and enjoying myself too much [laughs]!

HM: When you get some downtime, what do you indulge in?

ER: I honestly rarely stop working or thinking about work ever. At this stage, I am just beginning so it is important I do all I can to progress. One day, I would love to indulge in learning to speak French fluently. I am a huge Kristen Scott Thomas fan and would love to be competent enough with the language to do some French cinema. However, I have so many years of language mastering to do before that. Any free time I have I usually watch films— I adore movies and often try to watch and learn.

HM: What’s your master plan?

ER: Team Rigby Global Domination! This is my code name for my personal aspirations. I would love a career of longevity and versatility in film, working with people of tremendous talent and creativity—enjoying myself for every single moment, which is why I do this in the first place… it is what comes naturally. One of my dreams is to perform in A Street Car Named Desire on Broadway (I wonder if you can guess which part I would like to play?). And also a guilty pleasure would be to do Chicago— I have been practicing the role of Roxie for a very long time!

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND PREMIERES ON ABC ON THURSDAY, OCT. 10, 8/7C

IMAGE 1 COURTESY OF ID-PR

CHARACTER IMAGE COURTESY OF ABC/ BOB D’AMICO

 

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