Agyness Deyn: top tips for breakout actors
By Danny Kelly
15 January 2015
Following the premiere of new British feature Electricity at the BFI London Film Festival, we met with former model and muse to the fashion world, Agyness Deyn, who has carved a new career in acting with her first feature role. Electricity, directed by Bryn Higgins, tells the story of Lily (played by Deyn) who is searching for her long lost brother following the death of their mother.
Lily is a Northern fun-loving ‘every-girl’- beautiful, a bit daft and a whole lot of fun. She does however, suffer from epilepsy and extreme epileptic fits, which bring vivid visual distortions, strange auras and terrifying visions that we experience vicariously through her eyes. Lily is continually tested in this beautiful and uplifting story of self-discovery and the human spirit, with Deyn’s performance a career-defining turn.
We asked Agyness to share her tips for those looking to break out into acting for film…
Research your character
I did a lot of research for the role in Electricity! I wanted to have as vast a knowledge of the subject as possible before shooting and I really didn’t want to be stabbing in the dark with my portrayal of Lily’s illness. I also spent a lot of time with a specialist doctor on epilepsy and he talked me through the illness on an intellectual, emotional and practical level in terms of how Lily would get on with life. She says herself in the film that she will ‘thrash about, get up and get on with it.’ I wanted to get that determination across. I watched a stack of documentaries and videos and also had the chance to spend time with people who live with the illness and get their feedback on Lily’s story.
Find something about your character that you connect with on an emotional level
Even if you’re playing a really dark character, I really believe that you should understand their motive and connect with them somehow. I was drawn to the kind of rebellion Lily feels in her desire to keep her own identity throughout everything happening in her life. It is very much something that I strived to do when I was younger. I found her story very inspiring.
Bring spontaneity to your role
It was a collaboration between myself and Bryn as to how we approached Lily and her story. Luckily I was given the freedom to bring who I am to the role and how I feel about Lily throughout the process which made it so much more intimate. I was given a lot of license to try things out and get under her skin. There was a point where I was so involved in the role that it felt effortless- that’s where the fun started. The freedom to play, explore and be spontaneous was hugely important.
Find out more about studying Acting at MetFilm School.