Hayley Atwell

I love actors. My last novel, Waiting for Sunrise, features an actor so I’m deeply curious about the profession and its mysterious lifestyle. The thing I value more than anything else, which I think is the magic of acting, is naturalism. In Restless the actors are pretending to be spies in 1940, saying my lines, yet it looks like they’ve just made up the lines themselves.

There’s something about Hayley Atwell — she’s a very beautiful young woman but there’s something about her in that period look of the 1940s that makes her like Vivien Leigh or Ava Gardner — a classic movie star of the past. She’s got that kind of beauty — the severity of the hair and make-up seems to suit her unbelievably well. I was stunned at what a perfect Freya she was (Logan Mountstuart’s wife in Any Human Heart) and so when we were thinking who could possibly be Eva Delectorskaya, I had but one thought in my mind.

She has to jump out of windows and stab people in the eye with a pencil and seduce American politicians and fall in love with this charismatic spymaster, so it’s an incredible rollercoaster of a journey for her. She’s really versatile as well as having that magnetic factor X that all stars of the screen have to have.

Hayley would fit to a T almost any female role I’ve written — she would be a fantastic Hope Clearwater in Brazzaville Beach. Let’s get her fighting some chimpanzees.

Restless, based on William Boyd’s novel, is on BBC1 in December. 


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