For the last several years, Agyness Deyn has been one of the world’s most recognizable fashion models.
The stunning 29-year-old from Lancashire, England – best recognized for her short, bleach blonde hair – has been featured on the covers of Vogue editions around the world and appeared in ad campaigns for Burberry, Giorgio Armani, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and many more.
Two weeks ago, she “officially” retired from full-time modeling.
“I’ve not done any for a good long while now,” Deyn told the U.K.’s The Independent. “I think it was about four years ago when my feelings were changing towards the industry. I didn’t hate it, but I was yearning to do something different.”
Deyn has now set her sights on Hollywood and, although she appeared as Aphrodite in the 2010 film “Clash of the Titans,” the aspiring actress makes her leading lady debut in the new movie “Pusher,” which is now open in limited release.
A remake of “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 cult classic, “Pusher” is the story of a drug dealer named Frank (Richard Coyle), whose carefree life of cocaine-pushing comes crashing down when a deal-gone-wrong leaves him deeply indebted to his boss. Deyn plays Frank’s doting girlfriend Flo, a sweet, drug-addicted stripper who takes a backseat to her boyfriend’s life of danger.
I recently caught up with Agyness to talk about the new movie, breaking into the “business” and being naked on the big screen.
David Onda: Tell me a little bit about how you got involved with this movie.
Agyness Deyn: I read the script, I loved it. And I saw [director] Luis Prieto’s work and really loved it. And I’ve seen Nicolas [Refn’s] work and I respect him as a filmmaker and he was a producer on it. I just thought it would be such a great thing to be involved in, so I auditioned. I auditioned originally for the role of Danica, which is a smaller role. And when I got there, Luis asked me to read for Flo, and it was… [laughs] nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time, because I thought I was reading for somebody else. But then I had fallen in love with Flo, and I was excited that I was being given the opportunity to audition for her.
Onda: Have you found that people doubt your ability to make it as an actress more because you come from the modeling world?
Deyn: I can’t say I’ve thought about it. But my thing around this is that, if I go to work and I deliver and I do my best in the moment – like, this is what I’ve got today, this is the best I’ve got today – I’m OK with that. I can’t fake doing this job. I have to deliver and that’s what I wanna do. I wanna deliver, I wanna create, I wanna learn and grow. I’m excited to do the next thing.
Onda: Have you seen the original “Pusher”?
Deyn: I hadn’t. Obviously I had heard about it, but I had not watched it. And then when I got offered the part, Luis asked us not to watch it, which I think was a really smart move, because I hear – I’ve not watched it yet – but Flo in the original is so different to this one.
Onda: How did Flo get mixed up with Frank? What draws her to him?
Deyn: I think his inability to love her. Her life is not something that is like – “Poor Flo, she’s a stripper. Poor Flo, she’s in this relationship.” She’s not a walk-over. She’s a smart girl that has integrity. She’s chosen to do that job. She could do any job. And she’s choosing to stay in this relationship. She gets some safety from him and I feel like it’s safe for her that he doesn’t love her. I think she’s afraid of that, even though it’s the thing she wants the most in the world.
Onda: Flo doesn’t have as much screen time as Frank, but you really humanize the character. Our hearts break for her.
Deyn: Yeah. I know. Even when I saw it – I watched a clip at the Toronto Film Festival – and even I was like, “Oh, Flo!” Even though I knew what was happening, it was like, “No, don’t do that!” She has a profound effect on me, during it and even after it.
Onda: In one scene, Flo has a single tear roll down her cheek. Were you able to conjure that up yourself?
Deyn: Yeah! [laughs] It’s really funny, because we did [the shot] from the front. And then I turn around and, obviously, it’s a different shot, but it totally matches up with the front. Even Luis is like, “How did you do that?” And I was like, “I don’t ****ing know!” And it’s not like it was planned. I was trying to be as truthful as I could to her. I had created as much reality in everything that she does and is, and I was just trying to be truthful to how she would feel and just do it.
Onda: What was the hardest scene for you?
Deyn: I think the first scene that I did. I’d been offered the role and I was on set and it was like, “Ok, now I’m doing this.” It’s that leap of faith. I think that was the hardest thing. But I was excited as well. It was that jumping off the end of the diving board moment.
Onda: And on top of being your first major role, you also had to be nude in this film. Were there any concerns about that?
Deyn: I didn’t really think about it, to be honest. And it’s really funny, because someone asked me that in London when we were doing the press junket, and I was like, “Oh, yeah! I was naked.” Every part, every scene, is telling a story and it was all part of it. It wasn’t as if it was like, “Oh, yeah, I have to be naked in this bit.” It was Flo taking a bath. In real life, you wouldn’t wear underwear to get in the bath. It was just, like, of course! I didn’t really think about it. Everyone has a body and…
Onda: And sometimes it’s naked.
Deyn: Yeah! [laughs] Everyone’s naked at some point.
Catch Agyness Deyn in “Pusher,” which is in select cities now. Click here to order tickets on Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.