PHOTOS: Pip Bourdillon
TALENT: Freya Allan
STYLING: Holly White at The Wall Group
MAKEUP: Francesca Brazzo at The wALL gROUP
HAIR: Carlos Ferraz at Carol Hayes Management
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT: Kevin Brown
STYLIST ASSISTANT: Zuli Alao
LOCATION: Holmes Hotel London
INTERVIEW: Jeremy Irvine
PRODUCTION: Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P
SPECIAL THANKS: Premier Personal PR & Independent Talent Group
This feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.17, available soon in digital and print worldwide
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We first caught up with Freya Allan at Holmes Hotel London in September, almost two years after she took over the world with her role as Princess Cirilla “Ciri” in Netflix’s global phenomenon The Witcher. But in a way, she felt completely different about season 2 coming out. As an aspiring actor, the Oxford native was already proving herself to be determined and fearless, as does her on-screen character. Now at 20 years old, her interest in performing has only grown stronger. With The Witcher already renewed for a third season, this is just the beginning for the rising actress and there is more she can look forward to both in the show and beyond the fantasy world.
A few days before the release of The Witcher’s season two, Freya Allan was staying at the Corinthia in London. From there, she reconnected with Jeremy Irvine, with whom she filmed a horror thriller, Baghead, earlier this fall in Berlin. Until we get to see the actress confronting an evil entity that is connected to her family’s past, she tells her Baghead co-star what changed for her between seasons of The Witcher, her ultimate dream project, and the mission statement she is looking to craft to guide her career.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Check out some extracts below.
On chasing her acting goals…
JEREMY IRVINE: Hey!
FREYA ALLAN: Hello, you bold human being. Where is your beard?
JI: I know.
FA: It’s crazy, you look 10 times younger.
JI: [Laughs] I’ll take that as a compliment. Where are you?
FA: I’m in the Corinthia.
JI: You’re in town, right? We could have done this in person.
FA: Opposite [the Corinthia], there is a thing called Kit Kat Club. So, I came back from Berlin and instantly walked out the door. I was like, “It’s followed me here.’’
JI: That’s amazing. I miss it. We had too much of a good thing.
FA: Yeah [laughs].
JI: So, tell me: how did you get into acting? Because you were quite young, weren’t you?
FA: Yes, I was 14 and I always liked it growing up. But when I joined secondary school, they had an amazing drama department and I was obsessed with being in a musical theater show, like Matilda. But then, I was very ironically too tall at that point. So, I was like, “I can’t do any of these musicals until I’m an adult [because] as a kid I can’t do that anymore.” So, I [searched] how to get into TV and film, and tried to find an agent. Obviously, I had nothing to show them, but I listed every single school play I’d been in. It’s ridiculous, I remember I genuinely put “mushroom number 3.” Then, they asked to have videos, so I sent some videos of me doing performances and some random monologues that I prepared with my dad.
JI: You took that upon yourself to get after it.
FA: Yeah. I just told my parents, “Oh, by the way, I’ve emailed these agents.” Then, they were like, “Come and meet us in London.” I went there and [that’s how] I had an agent.
JI: Nice. I made up credits when I was trying to get my first agent.
FA: Did you? Clever!
JI: I filmed stuff and then told them it was professional work. [But] obviously, they saw through it, it was so bad [laughs].
On early beginnings in the industry…
FA: How old were you when you got your agent?
JI: I would have been 19, so I was older than you.
FA: Because I was 14, I had a bit of an excuse to have not done work. It’s like I really could get away with the fact that I had just done school plays, because I’d only been in school.
JI: I guess at this age, if you have a bad day, you can [also] probably mess up, misbehave a bit, and get away with it.
FA: I’m trying to remember what it was like. I don’t think I misbehaved because I think when I had a job, I just wanted to do well and please everyone. But it was more emotional breakdowns that were allowed, [when] there were times where the pressure hit and I’d suddenly be feeling stressed out about it. I remember a few memories where I was overtired. You have more that excuse when you’re at that age.
JI: That pressure must have been tough at 14 [because] that’s a lot. I remember the first time going onto a film set, driving, and seeing all the trailers, and all the people. I was like, “Oh my god, there is thousands of people here, and they are all here for me to do that thing in front of a camera.” Were you aware of that or did you just try not to think about that? How did you get over that?
FA: I think I was quite aware of it. I, unlike you, wasn’t just thrown into a massive movie straight as my first thing. I did two short films, and then I did two small TV roles. But it doesn’t make any difference because at that age, any job was massive in my head, whether it was a tiny role on a TV show or whatever. But still, I guess the crew was a bit smaller, so there was less of that whole thing and there was less of that entourage situation. Oh, and did I ever tell you about this role [attached to one of the short films]? I played a Christmas tree — I had to be put in a cardboard Christmas tree outfit, and they genuinely in the scene put me on top of a car, tied me up, and drove off with me on the top of the car, as the Christmas tree. That’s a highlight.
JI: You know, we’ve all got to do [that kind of thing] once to get to the good ones [laughs].
On The Witcher and next expectations…
JI: I think it’s awesome to join a franchise [because] you know that people are gonna see it. And you don’t always know that — you might work on something for six months and no one might see it.
FA: I knew that people would watch it because there was too much anticipation, but still, [as we were] getting to that point where it was gonna be coming out soon, I definitely thought at some point, “It could flop completely, I don’t know if we do well.’’
JI: I love learning fights but if you’ve got a fight that is 50 moves, you learn that and you have to get it also precisely. It’s crazy.
FA: Unluckily for this season — I say that because that’s all I wanted to do — I didn’t ever have something where there was like 50 moves. I kept saying to them, “Can I just kill this person? Can I just kill that monster?” But they were like, “You have to make it realistic that she is just starting learning, so she won’t be killing everyone right now.” But also, like you said, there’s potentially a lot of seasons, so you have to spread it out so it’s not all used up in one season. So, it was more based on Ciri’s training. And I think once they teach you the basic sword work, then it’s a lot easier to learn it. Also, I did dance at school, so that’s helpful.
JI: Walking around with a sword on set, what’s better?
FA: I know. I can’t wait for another season and actually get a proper sword, because this season, I had a wooden sword. I remember them presenting it to me, they were like, “This is your sword for Ciri.” And I was like, “Why is it made of a stick?” [Laughs]
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