Before being bestowed with the Chopard Trophy for young talent in Cannes, Sheila Atim has bounced from indie films into the Marvel Universe with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and will next appear in “The Woman King,” opposite Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch and John Boyega. It’s all about building a range.
“Rather than finding ‘a voice’ and sticking with it, I think we have to evolve as people right up until the end,” she said. It’s easy to be typecast when you are a young, female actor. “Sometimes definitions get placed upon you of what you should be, who you should play. I’m really just trying to push myself to see what else there is.”
Being on the “Doctor Strange” set was overwhelming at times, she admitted. “But at other points really kind of magical as well.” Still, that role sent her into the stratosphere and the Chopard award is recognition of that trajectory — one that landed her in Cannes with Julia Roberts. The mega star, “godmother” of the winners, has been very supportive. “She’s been such a wonderful kind of guide through this,” Atim said of Roberts’ encouraging words.
In “King,” she stars alongside Davis and Lynch in the historical action movie directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood slated for September. She calls the new film “epic in the very literal sense of the word.” The film has some big battles of women warriors. “It’s a story that has definitely not been seen before, told in a way that has not been told before. It’s sweeping and grand and detailed and nuanced.”
Davis, who was on hand in Cannes to received Kering’s Women in Motion award, had some words of wisdom on set. “It’s not like from on high, it’s just kind of observations — not about acting but about life. And I found it really valuable,” Atim said. “She’s incredibly passionate about mental health, and that’s real. It’s not a front because it’s a popular topic at the moment. And you can learn from her just by observing. She lives it, whatever she says. She’s the real deal.”
Reading reviews of Jack Lowden’s performances, the 30-year-old has gained a reputation for being brooding and intense. But that only seems to be on screen, as the sweet-natured Scot is self deprecating in person. The stage actor made the leap to film and TV with “Dunkirk,” and “Benediction.”
“As a person I sort of struggle to take things seriously. I really do [intense] between action and cut. I take that seriously,” he said, of his reputation. “But it’s quite cool.”
Lowden credits his stage training in plays such as “Chariots of Fire,” “Ghosts” and other classics. “It just puts you in a place of reliance on yourself, which the film industry doesn’t. [Film] sort of takes your independence away from you to a certain extent, because there’s so much crew and you’re sort of this object.
“There’s British, English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh actors, they all have that in common. There’s a real fantastic tradition on those islands of not taking yourself too seriously when it comes to acting. A wonderful bunch of people work in the British film industry, in terms of actors, who are very chilled compared to others.”
Among them are Gary Oldman, who plays opposite Lowden in Apple Plus’ spy thriller “Slow Horses,” which has already shot its second season.
Lowden might not take it seriously, but he does get nervous on the red carpet. Tux aside at the Chopard dinner, Lowden is a T-shirt guy “and sometimes barely even jeans.”
“I do hate the fact that I’m having to look at how I look, everything has to be right and perfect, which is kind of nuts, but I love it. I love looking good. That’s the horrible irony. Who doesn’t like looking good? So it’s wonderful when I’m getting given all of this gorgeous stuff to wear,” he said. “But it the end, it’s just good fun.”
As for Roberts, who joked that she didn’t want her new protégés to call her, Lowden joked she should expect to see his number come up: “Every day, every single day. I’ll ask her about gardening, cleaning the gutters, you know, anything I need good advice. I’m gonna bug the hell out of her.”
In this case, he might be serious.