It’s Hannah John-Kamen’s fantasy world, and we’re just living in it. This incredible actress has found her way into most jealousy-inducing franchises, like Game of Thrones and Star Wars, as well as some of the biggest films in the last few years: Ready Player One and Ant-Man and the Wasp and The Stranger. She returns to screens in Sky and NowTV’s A Brave New World.
Hannah John-Kamen sat down with Rollacoaster to discuss getting good advice, acting in the world of fantasy and her make-up go-to’s, after working with Alex Babsky and Armani Beauty on the shoot. She seems to have an innate ability to make the fantastical so compelling for audiences with her work, while constantly exuding an effortless beauty. Why can’t I do that?
You will next be seen in A Brave New World, on SKY and NOWTV, which is based on Aldous Huxley’s 1932 book about a dystopian future. Can you talk a bit about your character Wilhelmina ‘Helm’ Watson?
I absolutely loved playing Helm, she is an alpha plus, Bernard’s best friend. She is a soma addict – a pill popping hedonist and an artist who creates all the feelies in the world and she is also incredibly fabulous.
Helm is a gender swapped version of the original book’s ‘Helmholtz Watson’, what drew you to the role?
I look for characters that I find interesting that I would want to watch being brought to life myself.
Brave New World creates a whole new universe. What was it like to film?
It was amazing. You just feel like you’re part of something really special. I was blown away by the artistry of it all.
How has quarantine been for you? Has it affected your work?
It has been an interesting time. I have mainly taught myself how to skateboard and got a new puppy called Mowgli. It has also been quite scary and tough at times with changing perceptions of what the new normal has is going be. Yes, it has affected my work, I was go-ing to start filming again in August and that was postponed, but that’s ok because I am back at work now and it feels glorious.
Many of your projects – Ready Player One, The Stranger, Brave New World – were adapted from books. As an actor, do you find it easier or more challenging to portray a character that people have already interpreted before?
I tend not to look at the book to adapt the character because your fellow actors, the set, the costume, hair, make-up, writing and the story tend to create a whole new world that is very different from the book.
Is there something about the sci-fi genre that you are particularly attracted to when selecting roles? e.g. Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance…
What can I say, I like fantasy!
Do you have a preferences as an actor between working on films or television series?
Depends on the length of a series, because you can really create a family on long running television show, but it is nice to know the beginning middle and end of the story when doing a movie
As a more classically trained actor, do you think the learning you’ve done from working in the industry is different from what you learned in school/university?
Definitely. I was mainly theatre trained so it is different to screen work, especially when it comes to the time you get to have with your script and warming up physically, vocally etc for the character whereas in tv and film it is more fast paced with rewrites and scene changes so you have to think on your feet in a different way.
What one trick or piece of advice that’s really stuck with you as an actor?
My dad told me – no matter what happens you are always a John-Kamen and always stay grounded.
What is your philosophy of make-up? Do you thing the industry has changed in terms of representation and how people perceive it in the last few years?
The Armani beauty products are amazing at making me feel the best version of myself. They are timeless, luxurious and emphasise, without concealing. Make-up should be an expression of freedom and individuality to empower women while enhancing their femininity, and I think Armani Beauty has got this so right with their make-up.
What’s one piece of make-up from Armani Beauty you can’t live without?
Luminous silk foundation, it’s so light it doesn’t feel like you are wearing foundation at all.
What’s next for you in terms of goals for the next couple years?
Stay healthy, keep working, keep happy.
Brave New World is on Sky One and NOW TV