After widespread acclaim for her role in TV phenomenon Game of Thrones, teenager Bella Ramsey has taken a leap onto the big screen alongside Renee Zellweger in Judy.
The 16-year-old plays Lorna Luft, the daughter of Judy Garland, in the biopic of the star’s run of shows in London during the late 1960s.
“It’s focusing on her family life and her relationship with her children,” says Bella, who was born in Nottingham and is another successful graduate of the city’s Television Workshop.
“When she was performing she really wanted to be with her children – that she couldn’t kind of broke her heart. There’s a scene in which Lorna is asking her mum not to take sleeping pills. It’s almost as if her children were caring for her and she didn’t want that.”
The film, currently making waves at the box office, sees Zellweger – “she is the nicest person” - as Garland during a five week run of shows at The Talk of The Town in 1968, shortly before her death.
“It was shot in London and a great experience, ” says Bella, who attended the premiere but missed the cast screening as she was playing football.
“I remember being nominated for a children’s Bafta for (the CBBC series) The Worst Witch, but on the day of the ceremony I had a football match in the morning. To be honest I was far more excited about playing football and almost forgot about the awards.”
In fact, she enjoys football more than watching film or TV. And as a result she struggles to know who famous actors are.
“Whenever I’m on set there is someone there that everyone gets excited about but I have no idea who they are. I did a film with Ed Harris called The Resistance. Someone introduced me to him and I said ‘who is that?’. I didn’t have a clue.”
The Resistance, which also stars Jesse Eisenberg, isn’t due out until next year but Bella says it’s the one she is most excited about.
“That was the best experience of my life so far. It was filmed in the Czech Republic and Germany for nine weeks. I’d not filmed abroad before.”
It’s the little known story of mime artist Marcel Marceau and the role he played in the French Resistance during the Second World War, helping German Jewish children escape to Switzerland.
Also on her growing CV is voicing the Netflix animation Hilda and playing Billie Piper’s daughter in the film Two For Joy, which also starred the Workshop’s two-time Academy Award nominee Samantha Morton.
“We talked a lot about Workshop,” says Bella. “We got everyone talking Workshop by the end of it.”
“I still go to Workshop now. Why? Because there’s always something new to learn. And it’s a family. I’m very proud to say I’m from Workshop.”
You may see Bella in cropping up low budget short films in between the bigger productions as, she says: “I just enjoy any roles that are interesting, playing multi-layered characters.”
She has also been nominated for Nottingham’s 30 Under 30, a partnership between Nottinghamshire Live, Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies and The Prince’s Trust, which highlights rising stars who “represent the spirit, drive and energy of a thriving city”.
An awards ceremony, sponsored by Nottingham law firm Shakespeare Martineau, is being held on October 7.
As a child, Bella and her older sister would put on shows for friends and family at home. By the age of four she had joined her sister at performing arts school Stagecoach in Loughborough.
As her sister lost interest they would become solo shows. Mum and dad, who run their own business from home, signed her up to a local drama school to channel her energies.
Bella says: “I needed to be doing something performance wise so I didn’t keep annoying everyone at home.”
By the age of ten she was a member of the Television Workshop, a breeding ground for future film and TV stars.
“Although I didn’t think of acting as a career – I just loved doing it,” says Bella.
“I never wanted to act to be famous.”
In fact, the attention from her role as Lady Lyanna Mormont in the final three seasons of Game of Thrones – her first professional job – took her and the family by surprise.
“People were setting up fake accounts on social media pretending to me. One of them had swearing in the bio and people were saying ‘you shouldn’t be swearing!’ But it wasn’t me. That’s why I had to set up official Twitter and Instagram accounts.”
A lot of fan mail has come in to her agent which Bella and her mum – a former PE teacher and now Bella’s full-time chaperone – get given whenever they are in London.
“They normally want a signed photo,” says Bella, who is often recognised in the street and is asked for selfies.
“Most of the time I don’t mind it as people are generally nice. If it makes someone happy that’s fine by me. It’s just that sometimes, when I’m out with my family and friends, celebrating someone else’s achievement, it’s a bit difficult.
“My friends do find it quite cool when I get recognised as they are really supportive but I do apologise before we go out if it does happen.”
Offers for interviews, comic cons and partnerships have come in since Game of Thrones but she has chosen carefully.
“I was bombarded with offers for publicity type things but we decided to just do a select few as we didn’t want to be thrust into the mad world of fame. We certainly didn’t expect it. It took us all by surprise.”
Parents may wonder how Bella has been able to keep up with her school work. For the last three years she has been home schooled using an online tuition programme.
“It’s flexible so I can fit it around my acting work. And as long as I have wifi I can do it. Although it can be hard to come off set and do school work. Sometimes I wear a school inform and sit at a desk so I feel more motivated to do it when I’m at home.”
As far as her acting ambitions go, Bella hasn’t any to speak of other than carrying on enjoying getting varied roles which challenge her as an actor.
“I’m just loving what I’m doing,” she says.
“I want to set up an acting school for children with disabilities in Nottingham at some point. That’s the only dream I have.”
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