Rebecca Hall - a Chat with Noelle McCarthy

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Rebecca Hall's portfolio makes for some rather impressive reading; her latest projects include works by Sha...
Rebecca Hall's portfolio makes for some rather impressive reading; her latest projects include works by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Woody Allen and more. It's a weighty, well-respected list. One that suggests the willowy 26-year-old brunette is somewhat selective when it comes to choosing her projects. Perhaps a bit precious even. The type of actress who might pronounce the word "theatre" in three syllables. But as the British-born actress comes on the phone, taking time out from technical rehearsals at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [BAM] in New York, any and all such notions are forgotten as she begins discussing her backside. "I've been wearing a pregnancy suit all day," she explains, in a less-than-posh English accent. "It's brought me out in hives all over my behind." She's not worried though, she laughs. "No one will see that on stage and I've switched suits now, so it should be fine." The 26-year-old will arrive in New Zealand next month with the rest of the Bridge Project cast - including Ethan Hawke, Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Richard Easton - to perform two plays: Chekhov's Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes. Part of the Edge's International Arts Season, the project is a transAtlantic collaboration between London's Old Vic Theatre and BAM, featuring a cast of American and British actors. After opening the season in New York in January, the company are touring Singapore, Auckland, Spain and Germany, before taking up a three-month residence at the Old Vic in May. It's a large undertaking - including rehearsals, the project has required nearly a year-long commitment from its cast. Which is a lifetime in Hollywood years. So just why did Hall, whose star is firmly on the rise after a Golden Globe-nominated turn in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, sign on? "I know that my agents probably want to kill me," she laughs. "But, you know, I'm in it for the long haul. I don't want to be a flash-in-the-pan and I don't really believe in capitalising on a moment. Because there shouldn't be a moment." Hall signed on to the project more than two years ago, after working with Mendes on her feature film debut, Starter for 10. Mendes was the executive producer and approached Hall with the offer to play Varya and Hermione in the two classics. "I just immediately said, 'Yes, sign me up'. It was nice in a way because I thought, 'Okay, I don't need to worry about doing any theatre until then. I'll just concentrate on doing films'." Many actors would have tried to wheedle out of the deal in favour of the lucrative film offers flying Hall's way. But Hall had made a commitment. She skipped all the Hollywood award ceremonies - including those for which she had been nominated - to rehearse with the rest of the cast. "There was no way I could have missed a show. And I wouldn't miss a show anyway. It would be bad for the company if I just waltzed off and said, 'Going to an awards ceremony is more important than this job'. I was sad not to be there but I had another commitment," she says simply. Besides, she jokes, the theatre stint has probably saved her from doing "some dodgy action movie that I don't really want to do". The chances of that seem unlikely. Hall's film profile to date is a near-flawless who's who of Hollywood. Allen, Christopher Nolan and Ron Howard have all directed the English beauty, as she starred opposite Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Frank Langella, Scarlett Johansson and more, in films like The Prestige, Frost/Nixon and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. "I've had such a lucky run of it in films," she says modestly. "I've been able to pick great projects and work with such good people." Of course, it's not just luck. After giving the standard actor answer, in which she claims there's no such thing as choice when forging a career, she finally reneges and admits she is, actually, quite selective. "I'm sort of beating around the bush. I think the truth of it is, I am a little bit picky. And when the chips are down, I probably do make sacrifices in order not to do something that I don't believe in. I do think that's important. I don't want to do things for the sake of doing them."