The End of the Fucking World actress on why she’s not afraid of the shock-factor.

Two turbulent teens run away together. Chaotically, inevitably, they fall in love. Sounds a lot like the plot for hundreds of classic rom-coms, right?

Except, somebody is going to die.

In Netflix’s The End of the Fucking World, that somebody just might be heroine Alyssa (played by Jessica Barden), whose teenage beau James (Alex Lawther) becomes torn between his reluctant feelings for her and a strong urge to shed blood.

Dark, but weirdly relatable and endearing, the show’s first series caused tears and laughter in equal measure with each unpredictable turn. Especially iconic was the capricious Alyssa, whose fierce, no-fucks attitude has been immortalised online in an endless rotation of fan accounts and memes.

It’s a role that has catapulted Yorkshire-born Jessica Barden into a fully-fledged Hollywood success, but the 26-year old is just getting started. In the wake of a long-anticipated announcement for season 2 (Alyssa’s fate remains in question as Jess’ involvement has not yet been confirmed), we caught up with the actress about perseverance, style and saying exactly what’s on her mind…

Images courtesy of Bossy Ldn.

Images courtesy of Bossy Ldn.

Going back to the beginning of your career, how did you get into acting?
I was really lucky that a lot of children’s TV shows like “My Parents Are Aliens” were filmed in the city where I grew up, so I was an extra and then made my way up through the food chain.

Was there a moment when you decided you wanted to make acting your career?
I’d say it was around age 16 or 17. I started working in films and being on sets where the directors would ask for your opinions on stuff, and that was when I decided I’d really want to be an actress.

Are there any actors who have really inspired you?
The main people who have inspired me are people that I’ve actually worked with, where you can see what type of people they are and how they work. I really enjoyed working with Carey Mulligan [Far from the Madding Crowd] – she will always stand out as someone that I felt opened my mind up to a lot of things. I also really enjoyed working with Olivia Colman for the same reason, as well as to seeing how you can stay normal!

Is there anyone that you’re desperate to work with?
Loads of people! I would want to work with Isabelle Huppert. She doesn’t really make a lot of English language films, so it would be a bit of a challenge.

Images courtesy of Bossy Ldn.

Images courtesy of Bossy Ldn.

So how did you prepare for the role of Alyssa in The End of the Fucking World?
I knew about the project for years, so it was something I’d been thinking about for a long time. I let it be very natural and that was especially true with Alyssa as there was so many things I recognised within myself. I don’t really like to overthink acting because then all the fun goes out of it. Acting is supposed to be fun!

What do you see of yourself in Alyssa?
I’m not afraid to be shocking. I really love that in her. Where if you ever feel challenged or vulnerable in a situation, your instinct and first defense is to just be the most shocking person. Which doesn’t really make any sense as you can kind of end up alienating yourself, but that’s definitely what I have in common with Alyssa. Also the fact that she’s very open-minded, she’s quite easy going. I know that she doesn’t seem it on the surface, but she actually is and she just says exactly what comes to mind, which is very much like me.

How would you say you’re different from her?
I’m 26 and there’s lots of things that I just wouldn’t do because it’s just not appropriate. I definitely think I wasn’t really like Alyssa when I was 17, I was a lot less confident than that. I feel like I was like Alyssa when I was 20 or 21.

What did you think when you first read the script?
When I was 19 and I first read it I didn’t really think anything of it, I just thought this is such a cool role. Then as the years went on, I realised that roles like that are quite unique and it’s probably one of the only ones that was ever going to make sense to me. I couldn’t really see myself in a lot of roles – I’m not an obvious choice to be in a BBC period drama, as much as I’m not an obvious choice to be in a romantic comedy. It wasn’t an easy journey and at times it was really difficult. But in the end, it paid off.

Images courtesy of Cameron McNee.

Images courtesy of Cameron McNee.

Were you expecting the show to have this much success?
I’ve just realised that this is the first interview where people know that there’s going to be a second series! I would say that I’m just really enjoying this time in my life and career where people are excited about what I’m going to do, because believe me that’s not all the time. I’m really just trying to enjoy this, stay very neutral about it and be very realistic about it.

What other characters do you want to play?
I would say that the main thing for me is the world you’re doing it in, and the opportunity to learn different things or go to different places. I’ve been in Australia playing a nun and they’re the type of roles that I want to do. I’m just interested in learning different things.

Images courtesy of Cameron McNee.

Images courtesy of Cameron McNee.

Why did this campaign with Ellesse resonate with you?
I really love doing photo shoots and I want to take advantage of the opportunities that come up. I wanted to work with a brand that’s actually fun and wasn’t going to ask me to wear a pencil skirt and look really sexy! That isn’t me. We come from the same world where I’m not trying to take myself really seriously. It just seems like the right brand for me and I loved the photoshoot, it was so fun.

What kind of clothes make you feel confident?
I don’t mind standing out in things, a lot of the stuff I chose here are extremely bright and over the top. I love that, I don’t mind being someone that everybody looks at when you walk into a room. I would consider myself a regular person in their 20s – some days I want to feel really special, some days I want to feel comfortable and maybe invisible as well, it changes all the time. I feel like you get a lot from clothes.

What’s been your biggest fashion faux-pas?
Loads. I didn’t really know how to dress when I was younger, I think I probably dressed way too old. In terms of being put in things, I’ve always been someone who would say no, I don’t want to wear this. And I’d never wear Ugg boots again. Everyone used to wear the fake ones where they’d collapse in the middle, it’s so iconic but awful.

What’s next for you?
I’m in Boston right now making a film with Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell which is really fucking great and everything that you’d want it to be. Every day is a different experience, it’s so fun. I’m in the season of Pinter Plays in the West End, which I do after this. I don’t really know what I’m doing next year, there’s a few things but I’m just kind of dealing with this year right now.

Jessica Barden stars in the new Ellesse My Style Is Who I Am Campaign for AW18. The collection is available now: find out more here.

Bossy Ldn and Cameron McNee
Rosie Byers

Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related →