Justine Waddell in a Chanel jacket and Seven for All Mankind jeans at Santa Monica’s Viceroy hotel.

LOS ANGELES — She may be South African-born, Cambridge-educated and London-reared, but Justine Waddell doesn’t always depend on her good breeding to snag posh roles. <br><br>A week after playing Natalie Wood on ABC this month, she signed...



LOS ANGELES — She may be South African-born, Cambridge-educated and London-reared, but Justine Waddell doesn’t always depend on her good breeding to snag posh roles.

A week after playing Natalie Wood on ABC this month, she signed on to star in the cop caper “Chaos” with Wesley Snipes, Ryan Phillippe and Jason Statham. The shoot started this month in Vancouver, and right before she left Los Angeles for Canada, Waddell checked in to chat about her new action-star status.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“The film is a cross between ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and ‘Narc,’” Waddell says. The story follows a rookie and a veteran cop, played by Phillippe and Statham, respectively, in pursuit of a bank robber. Waddell is the female officer who, as she puts it, “has a past with the veteran and a possible future with the rookie. She’s young, ambitious and good with a gun. She’s also in love, which is quite a fiery cocktail.” Literally. “Most of Seattle blows up in the space of one day,” Waddell adds.

Considering that her past roles in “Anna Karenina,” “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and “Great Expectations,” have led Waddell, 27, to call herself “the PBS poster girl,” “Chaos” is quite an about-face. And it required a pre-production regimen a world away from the usual dialogue-coaching and corset-tying classes to which Waddell was accustomed. “I spent most of last week following an LAPD detective and learning how to fire a gun — but I haven’t killed anyone yet,” she says.

Since the film spans just 24 hours as opposed to months or years, Waddell only gets one or two costume changes at best. “I’m hoping to persuade them to do chic police rather than black leather,” she says, laughing, “but I’m not sure I’ll win that battle.”

— Marcy Medina

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