If you haven’t heard of Phoebe Fox already, you are guaranteed to be hearing a lot about her soon. Gracing our cinema screens this year, Phoebe Fox will be starring in The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, the sequel to the adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ novel, featuring Daniel Radcliffe. On the stage side of things, Phoebe has played Lear’s Cordelia at the Almeida opposite Jonathan Pryce, and has worked at both the Royal Court Theatre and the National Theatre in London.
Her performances at these venues were rewarded with a nomination for the 2011 Evening Standard Theatre Award for ‘Outstanding Newcomer’. Having only graduated from drama school one year previous to this, it was certainly not a bad way to start.
With such an impressive resume at only 28, I ask her how it all began. “My parents are actors, so I suppose that desire was always there.” Always around theatres from a young age, the stage clearly has an infectious quality to it for Phoebe: “Spending your childhood back stage at a theatre is a very magical way to grow up, so it’s no wonder that I was inspired to join in!”
For the budding students out there hoping to go on to drama school following Oxford University, she tells me that the difficulty of getting through the audition process is most definitely worth the wait. She attended the renowned RADA in London, however it was no easy ride getting in. “It took me 3 years to get into any drama school. I think that perseverance, and the fact that I was a little older, a little more confident, were key to my finally getting in. I was literally living my childhood dream once I got there, and I think it’s that that saw me through what was at times a very trying 3 years.”
Despite the wait, on finishing drama school she went straight into work. Alongside perseverance, she adds that her general advice for young actors in the profession is “try not to take anything personally.” Easier said than done perhaps, in an industry where one is guaranteed to experience plenty of rejection, but the important thing is to keep going even when things seem difficult.
Phoebe has worked across a variety of media, including television, film and theatre. Though it all comes under the same bracket of acting, Phoebe points out that “there are quite a few differences between them”, and each demand and give different things for an actor. “The most notable difference is the size of your performance,” she tells me. “You can ham it up on stage, on camera you cannot! I enjoy all three, but you can’t beat the exhilaration of playing to a live audience.”
She is soon to be enjoying that thrill again, as she is set to start working on the Young Vic’s production of A View From a Bridge. It is actually a role that she has played before, in 2014, lending different challenges to the characterisation of the part. “I am looking forward to it, whilst at the same time fearing it. I’ve never returned to a job before. Hopefully I still remember my lines!”
Though she loves the performing, Phoebe confesses that her favourite part of the theatre profession is actually the rehearsals, learning the part and getting to know the other actors she is working with. “I love rehearsals,” she says, “mucking around before it all gets very serious. That and the dressing up,” she adds.
I ask her more about the rehearsal process and any particular techniques she has for getting into character. Phoebe’s technique is to focus on the specific facts and details of each character she is playing. “I tend to make lists of everything said about my character, what they say about themselves, and what they say about other people. I make sure I know all the basic facts about them and fills in any gaps myself of things that might be important/relevant.” This way she can create a fully rounded character on stage, based on the personality traits of the character and also how the character is perceived by those around them. In a period piece where she might not be so familiar with the immediate context of the time that the play is set, she says that “I make sure I do research about the time, as it may inform how you end up playing the character.”
All casting considerations aside, I ask her if she has any dream roles that she would love to play at some point in her career. It’s a difficult question given the plethora available: “I don’t really know,” she admits, “but I’d enjoy a crack at Sally Bowles.” The aspiring actress character created by Isherwood would certainly be a fun addition to her repertoire. Whatever Phoebe Fox will be doing next, I am certainly looking forward to it.
Phoebe Fox will be playing Catherine in A View From a Bridge at the Wyndham Theatre from 10th February to 11th April 2015.